A problem for many health care workers, business professionals, parents and almost anyone who has a demanding schedule is finding the time to get proper nourishment. It takes planning, preparation, as well as the time to eat.
When I worked as a retail pharmacist, my typical meal was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich sometimes eaten over several hours. Some of my colleagues survived on Snickers bars and diet pop.
We all had the knowledge of better eating habits. It just didn’t always make its way into the workplace.
The first step in improving your nutrition is to review a typical day in your life and decide what meal or snack you could adjust most easily. For instance, eating breakfast, whatever time of day that is for you, is critical in helping sustain energy and having mental clarity throughout the day. Whether your breakfast is at home or on the job, even as little as 10 minutes allows you to have a protein smoothie, scrambled or hard-boiled eggs, Greek yogurt with berries, leftovers from dinner, oats or other whole grains.
To take meals and snacks with you, stock up on small containers so you can prepare a few days in advance. Label your meals/snacks accordingly and make sure your family knows that your pre-packed food is off limits.
Keep a list of foods that you need to replenish to save time when buying groceries. Take a look at your schedule to determine when it makes sense to prepare meals ahead of time. Come up with a general menu and build the rest of your shopping list from this. If you are overworked, use one of the delivery services or have another family member do the shopping. Asking for help is encouraged, especially if you are the type of person who believes you can take on the world and maintain your health, humor and sanity.
Choose a day when you can do some bulk cooking. Grill or roast a batch of chicken breasts/thighs. Fill a slow cooker with chili, soup or stew that can be divided into containers and refrigerated or frozen. Bake a few extra potatoes or cook extra brown rice to go with your protein. Wash and chop a variety of vegetables. Roast some and save some to eat raw as a snack. Hard boil eggs and peel immediately. They’ll stay fresh for several days in an airtight container in your fridge. (I’ve found that hard cooking eggs in the Instant Pot makes for easy peeling.)
Fruit is best washed just before eating rather than days earlier so it doesn’t get mushy. When you pack your food for the day, cutting some fruit may make snacking easier at work or in the car. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice on apple, pear or peach slices to keep them fresh and appealing. Add a frozen ice pack or water bottle to your bag. It’s a good idea to have several in your freezer, especially during the summer.
Take time to eat
This could be the toughest part of the equation. If you are working in your home, set a timer on your phone for your snack or meal breaks. This is also a good opportunity to get up and move or sit down, whatever you need to help you feel energized.
In the workplace, try to have your prepared foods within easy reach in case you are able to steal a few minutes for some nourishment. Sometimes the act of being prepared will pave the way for a break . Wherever your day takes you, drink water to stay hydrated. When you have a day to relax, take time to enjoy your meals and do something that makes you happy.
Carol Slager is a licensed pharmacist, author, blogger and health coach in Northwest Indiana. Follow her monthly in Get Healthy and at inkwellcoaching.com. Opinions expressed are the writer's.