In our final days of National Nutrition Month 2017, it’s important to continue the very important mission of nutrition education.
We are a productive country. It’s the truth. We get stuff done. We work long hours, take short breaks, and forgo vacation days in hopes of a raise. We work hard and play hard.
In a world where busy-ness is commonplace, something has to give. Most of the time, nutrition takes a back seat to all other essential functions. Everyone must eat and we all find a way to get it done; however, sometimes the shortcuts can lead to a path of unhealthiness and chronic disease.
Nutrition always seems like it’s the first thing to get cut. Drive thrus are tempting and vending machines find a way to satisfy all types of hunger in all hours of the day and night.
There is a way to do it all, it just takes a little forward thinking. Nutrition experts are just as busy as everyone else, but we find a way to balance life and health.
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You hear it all the time – meal prep – it is probably a concept that you glaze over with your eyes and would never take seriously. But seriously, it’s important when life gets busy.
Emily Holdorf, dietitian & founder of EmPowered Nutrition, says “When I know I have a busy week ahead, I like to make breakfast items and snacks over the weekend that will last me all week long. For make ahead breakfasts I like overnight oats, hearty muffins, baked oatmeal, or banana breads because they keep well. Then in the morning I either just grab the overnight oats & go or pair the other items with some yogurt or nut butter for lasting energy.
For snacks, energy bites are my go-to because you can make a bunch in no time & they’re easy to bring with you on the go. I also like to make little bags of frozen fruits and veggies to keep in the freezer, that way making smoothies is even easier because everything is measured out & all you have to add is a liquid.” Empowered Nutrition
Prepping food ahead of time can make a significant difference when it comes time to prepare a meal. Taking one hour out of every weekend to prep fruit and veggies can make a huge impact on to-go nutrition.
Jenna Gorham, registered dietitian and owner of Jenna Gorham Nutrition is all about the prep. “Having prepared fruits and veggies on hand is key for me. I like to roast a big batch of veggies early in the week. They’re easy to add to any meal – salad, wraps, quinoa bowls, or as a side or a snack. Taking a few minutes to prep a grain or protein saves time later in the week too. I also like to keep my fruit bowl filled with apples, bananas, or oranges- all easy to grab on the go. Meal prepping doesn’t have to take a lot of time, it’s just about making the effort and planning ahead!”
Not only is a bowl of fruit a good visual and a great snack for adults, it is also a quick grab and go for kids. I will often find myself grabbing a bunch of apples or little oranges and tossing them in my big purse “just in case” – someone is always hungry when we’re short on time, guaranteed.
Roxana Begum, PhD, RD of The Delicious Crescent uses meal prep when preparing food and also uses technology to help her prep with grocery shopping – what a great idea! She says, “I would make larger quantities of recipes that freeze well and portion them out to freeze for later. Also, some meal preparation ideas – cook a variety of beans, chop up a variety of fresh herbs, make smoothie prep bags – freeze all for later. I use frozen vegetables and fruits that freeze well. And I use a grocery shopping app on the phone to note down things as I remember and stay up to date with my nourishing grocery needs.”
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Sometimes, short cuts are the key. However, taking a short cut doesn’t mean taking a hit on good nutrition. Modern conveniences are doing wonders for the busy adult.
Dixya Bhattaraj, registered dietitian and creator of Food, Pleasure, and Health uses a beloved kitchen convenience tool when busy hits a high point. She says, “when I know I have busy schedule ahead of me, I rely on slow cooker meals such as chili and soups. I make a large batch and reheat them throughout the week.”
Most slow cooker soups and stews can simmer on low for 8 hours and if you have a newer slow cooker, there is a setting for “warm”, which means if you’re gone for 9 hours, your food is safe.
A genius way to keep you healthy, happy, and well fed is to follow the philosophy of Bridget Swinney, dietitian, author, and founder of Eat Right Mama. “My favorite way to keep it healthy is Cook Once, Eat Twice. Then I eat easy from my freezer. Chili, soups, beans, pasta entrees, crock pot meals and whole grains–you find all these in my freezer ready to go when there’s no time to cook.”
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Rahaf Al Bochi, registered dietitian and founder of Olive Tree Nutrition keeps her priorities in order when she has a busy schedule. “When we’re busy we often forget to hydrate ourselves. I always try to have a water bottle handy to sip on it throughout the day. Add cucumbers, lemon, or mint for some freshness. Staying hydrated is key for preventing headaches throughout the day.”
Culinary nutrition expert Jessica Levinson has meal planning down to an art. She knows, “meal planning is the key! Spending some time over the weekend to plan your meals for the week is a huge time saver later on. Then make a grocery list based on that meal plan so you have everything you know you’ll need in the house and you can do meal prep in pockets of time you have free. I post my weekly menu plan every Monday on my blog to keep myself on track and inspire others.”
She is so good at meal planning, that one of her most popular weekly posts includes her meal plan for the week. You can find her weekly meal plans on her website Nutritioulicious here: Meal Plan Monday
If you are having a hard time being accountable, follow Jessica’s lead and post your weekly meal plan to your social media outlet of choice. Who knows, you may just inspire your friends to eat healthier too!
Believe it or not, there are some healthy convenience foods that we can feel good about eating when the schedule gets a little overwhelming. The key is to find the food that you like and will grab when the hunger strikes.
Danielle Cushing, registered dietitian and author of The Every Kitchen, states, “there are so many good grab and go snacks these days. I always carry a few options in my bag, like Cuties (the clementines), single pouches of snacking olives, or KIND Pressed bars (the pineapple coconut chia is AMAZING). If I’m carrying something with me, I’m far less likely to spend money and to spend money on not-so-healthy convenience store snacks.”
These nutrition gurus know what it’s like to keep their diets going strong even when the going gets tough and life throws fastballs. Find what works for your lifestyle and stay on the road to health in slow and fast times.