How can one have a well-balanced meal plan, while on the run? Trainers and Practitioners are often seen as the go-to people for tips on fitness, wellness and nutrition. However, practicing what we preach while working odd and demanding schedules (clients at breakfast and dinner times, no breaks between classes or sessions, and long hours without the chance to eat), is sometimes very challenging.
We asked some of our expert Registered Dieticians for their advice. Anyone with a busy schedule should check out the three simple ideas graciously given by Naima Bigby Sullivan below. Look for more ways to sustain yourself and problem solve your personal menu next week from Melissa Petitto and Caitlyn Cade.
Naima Bigby Sullivan:
A little planning can go a long way. Here are some tips that I’ve found helpful. Lately I’ve been thinking about using mobile technology as a tool to help us make healthier choices, you’ve inspired me!
1. Invest in a good breakfast
Stock up on convenient, nutrient dense* foods that you love. Low-fat Greek yogurt is thick and creamy and has around 17 grams of protein in a 7-ounce cup, which will help keep you satisfied longer. Add fresh or dried fruit, granola, and a drizzle of honey and you’ve got a balanced, calcium-rich breakfast in less than 5 minutes.
Oatmeal is another good choice. Instant takes only a minute to cook, but if you have a rice cooker you can make heartier oatmeal while you’re in the shower. By the time you’re dressed, it’s done. Oatmeal makes such a satisfying breakfast because it has so much fiber. When made with milk, nuts, and fruit it’s another quick, balanced breakfast. Whole grain muffins, fruit and yogurt smoothies, and nut butter, egg, or even cheese sandwiches are all completely portable and will sustain you much longer than a doughnut.
2. Schedule a lunch break
It would be a good idea to work a real lunch break into your day. I mean literally write it in your calendar. The benefits of taking time to stop and eat are many and include better digestion, more satisfaction, and less over-or under-eating. If a full (or even half) hour isn’t possible, take advantage of downtime at your computer or between clients, but here’s the trick: Use whatever time you have to just sit and eat. Let calls go to voice mail, hold off on that last email. You’ll get so much more out of your meal and I’m sure you could use a few minutes to relax.
3. Carry snacks with you all the time
You need energy to get through your busy day. Get into the habit of carrying snacks with you whenever possible. These should include some protein, carbohydrate, and fat for a lasting effect. Think nuts, fresh or dried fruit, edamame, whole-grain crackers, nut butters, cheese, and even dry cereal. Look for energy bars that contain at least 7 grams of protein and mostly whole-food ingredients.
Take a few minutes every 3-4 hours and check in (set an alarm if you have to). If you’re hungry, have a snack. If you don’t have something, you can always run into a deli for some fruit or a bar. Eating this way will help prevent the mid-day energy drain and make lunch and dinner less stressful because you won’t feel completely starved. And remember to drink lots of water!
* Nutrient density is a measure of how much nutrition (vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber) are in a particular food. A doughnut is mostly fat and sugar, while a peanut butter sandwich on whole grain bread has protein, fiber, and heart healthy fats. Similarly, a handful of unsweetened dried fruit is high in fiber and antioxidants while a handful of candy is mostly sugar. The bottom line is that nutrient dense foods can also be incredibly convenient.