Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be difficult for busy professionals. Long hours in the office, travel, meals and drinks with clients all contribute to poor eating habits. From grabbing fast food for a quick meal to eating too many rich, fatty dishes, these choices add up to extra calories and pounds fast.
Fortunately, there are many things you can do without dieting to bring your eating back on track and develop healthy eating habits for busy professionals.
Prepare meals ahead of time and plan out snacks
One of the best tricks for healthy eating habits is to prepare your meals ahead of time and plan out your snacks. When you know what you’re going to eat long before it’s time to eat, you can make better choices than when you’re starving and in a time crunch.
Whether you prepare the same meal to eat each night for a week or you make a variety of lunches to grab and go each morning, having meals ready to eat will save time and money while giving you more control over your waistline. By making these meals ahead of time, you can deliberately choose healthy meals that leave you feeling satisfied. Remember to focus on whole foods and protein.
Also, reduce or eliminate sugar and processed foods.
Planning snacks will also contribute to healthier eating. Decide what you’ll snack on and when you’ll have those snacks. Even if your snack choices aren’t always ideal, you can make them healthier. For example, if you plan to have some chips or cookies as a snack, you can put a single serving in a plastic bag instead of eating straight from the package—and eating four or five servings instead.
Keep healthy snacks at your desk or in your car
Snacks are often the downfall of an otherwise healthy eating plan. You go through all the trouble of planning meals, but then you get a little munchy between meals and grab a chocolate bar, ice cream, or half a package of cookies. Instead of leaving snacks to chance like this, keep healthy snacks at your desk, in your car, or wherever else you tend to be when hunger hits.
Keep small bags of nuts, a couple of pieces of fruit, some pretzels and nut butter, or other healthy snack options stashed in your car’s center console or the back of a desk drawer. When the desire for a snack comes, skip the vending machine or convenience store and grab your healthier option instead.
Take advantage of meal delivery services
Many busy professionals complain that healthy eating takes a lot of time. Today, there are several meal delivery services that can make this complaint a thing of the past. Meal delivery services typically provide everything you need to make the meals, from ingredients to instructions. All you need is cookware and dishes to serve it on!
These services provide flexibility as well. You can get meals for just one person or for a whole family. You can choose your meals, so you’ll never get stuck eating something you don’t like just because it came with the subscription. And if you know you’ll be traveling, you can pause your subscription until you return.
If you’re interested in specific diets and dieting, these services often allow you to customize your plan so you can specify vegetarian, vegan, kid-friendly, or gluten-free meal choices.
Eat breakfast every day
How often have you skipped breakfast in favor of getting to work early? Perhaps you only drink a cup or two of coffee and plan to eat something at your desk later. Of course, you never get around to eating? A healthy breakfast is a solid start to a day of healthy eating and it doesn’t require a ton of time or effort.
A couple of hardboiled eggs, some oatmeal with fresh berries mixed in, or some low-fat yogurt with a piece of fruit are all nutritious breakfasts that jumpstart your metabolism and help you make healthier choices throughout the rest of your day.
Drink plenty of water throughout the day
Staying well-hydrated is one of the top ways to create healthy eating habits. When you’re hydrated, you’re less likely to have cravings or choose unhealthy foods. You may also find that when you crave something, drinking a glass of water reduces or eliminates the craving because you were actually just dehydrated.
Drinking more water is an easy way to cut out the extra, unhealthy calories that come with sugary beverage choices like soda, juice, or alcoholic beverages. Additionally, sugary, caffeinated, or alcoholic beverages can promote dehydration. Drinking more water can counter this effect when you do choose to indulge.
The healthy takeaway
Creating healthy eating habits as a busy professional is possible with some preparation and dedication. While it may feel like a lot of work at first, in time, these habits will become second nature—and much easier to maintain than diets and dieting. Once you start to see that your healthier eating habits are resulting in more energy, better mood, and reduced risk for many chronic diseases, you’ll believe the extra effort is worth it.