How to fuel your body with plant-based foods even with a crazy busy schedule!
Do you feel so busy you can barely keep up? Does eating healthy seem impossible because you just don’t have enough time?
I get it. One of the biggest struggles most people face on their health journey is balancing a hectic schedule.
You’re so busy that it makes eating healthy a real challenge. Quick and convenient foods end up taking the place of healthy, nourishing food when you’re on the go, go, go all the time. These less-than-ideal food choices put us on the hamster wheel of experiencing low energy, weight gain, and potential health problems.
What if I told you it didn’t have to be this way? You don’t have to be a slave to your schedule and resort to fast food or processed vegan “meat alternatives” on a regular basis.
It is possible to eat healthy, whole, plant-based foods, even with a jam-packed schedule. It just requires a little bit of pre-planning to ensure success! You’ll feel good about the foods you eat and have more energy because of it.
When you start fueling your body with healthier choices, you’ll probably also find that you don’t have that 3 PM slump or need that afternoon caffeine boost. My clients are always pleasantly surprised by these unintended added benefits of embracing a whole-foods, plant-based diet.
I know finding the right food to eat can be difficult. I’ve included a list of easy, healthy snack ideas to get you started, so keep reading!
Eating Healthy When You’re Not Home
There are plenty of circumstances that will take you away from home and make it more challenging to eat healthy food. Take the time to plan ahead so you can relax knowing your healthy living efforts won’t be derailed by consuming empty calories that only make you hungry again a short time later.1 The key to success here is always be prepared!
Daily Errands and/or Kids Activities
Most of us spend several hours in our vehicles every week running errands, stuck in traffic or shuttling kids back and forth between activities. If we don’t plan ahead, it is easy to fall into the trap of swinging through the closest drive-thru or gas station when you (or your kids) are hungry.
Don’t wait until you’re starving to decide foods and snacks to eat, as this will almost always lead to bad decisions.2 Instead, plan ahead, so you don’t have to rely on your willpower alone to keep you on track. Pack easy to carry healthy snacks and keep them in either your purse or your vehicle. This way you always have healthy choices right at your fingertips.
Just because you’re on vacation, doesn’t mean you should take a total hiatus from your health goals. You can still live a healthy lifestyle on road trips by packing healthy foods to eat in the car. Bring a cooler or lunchbox so you have easy access to snacks while on the road. If you’re planning on stopping at rest areas along the way, pack a nutritious picnic lunch to eat before you head back out on the next leg of your trip. No drive-thru stops here!
Even though you can’t pack liquids in your carry-on bag, there are still plenty of options for what you can bring. You can pack wrapped whole food snack bars, nuts, seeds or even pieces of fruit in your personal items bag. To minimize anxiety, here is a full list of TSA accepted items. With a little creative planning, you can keep your nutrition on track, and save yourself a bundle of money you would have otherwise spent on pricey (and often unhealthy) airport food and snacks.
Foods That Are Easy to Pack
The following items are all easy to prepare, and convenient to take on the go. Feel free to experiment and find out which snacks best fit your preference and lifestyle. Mix and match options to see what works for you (like yogurt and fruit for natural prebiotic and probiotic effects).3 Be sure to keep any perishable food in a cooler or use an ice pack.
- Baby carrots and cucumber slices with hummus
- Sliced or whole apples with nut butter or sun butter
- Clementine or mandarin oranges
- Sliced or whole pears
- Smoothie (if you plan to drink it within 30 mins or so)
- Nuts and raisins (you can make your own trail mix)
- Pumpkin seeds (pepitas) and/or sunflower seeds
- Whole Food Snack Bars (such as Larabar)
- Veggie sandwiches or wraps
- String cheese or cheese cubes (if vegetarian)
- Yogurt (milk or coconut-based)
- Hard-boiled eggs (if vegetarian)
Make the Most of Technology
Almost everyone has a smartphone with them at any given time. You can use this readily available technology to your advantage. Keep your food choices healthy when you’re on the go by utilizing apps that make healthy living easier.
“Healthy Out” is a handy app to keep your nutrition on track when eating out. You can search by tags like meals under 500 calories, paleo, heart-healthy, and more. Download the app for iOS or Android to find restaurant meals that fit your needs.
If anyone in your family is gluten intolerant, it may be a challenge to find restaurants that serve gluten-free meals. You can use an app called “Find Me Gluten Free” to help find restaurants with gluten-free offerings in your vicinity.
Make Midweek Meals Easy
Just because you have had a busy day doesn’t mean you have to resort to fast food or processed foods for dinner. With a little forethought, you can make sure your family has healthy meals ready to go when you walk in the door.
With the advent of Pinterest, you now have thousands of healthy crockpot meal ideas available for free. Do a quick search and see what recipes may interest you and your family. If you prep everything the night before, or even earlier in the morning, you can come home to a delicious home-cooked meal that is ready to serve.
Other helpful websites for plant-based crockpot recipe ideas are Allrecipes.com and Myrecipes.com
TIME SAVER TIP: Batch cook and plan for leftovers. When you do have time to cook, simply double the recipe and set the extras aside to use later in the week on a particularly busy day. It takes very little extra effort to double the recipe, and you will reap the benefits of time savings later in the week.
Make Healthy Eating Strategies Work for You
Even with a busy schedule, you can still make sure that you are eating healthy, nutritious meals. By putting in a little bit of planning, you can ensure that you and your family enjoy healthy foods that support your lifestyle and your goals.
You can do this! Let me know if I can help.
Sheri Goodman Graham
Welcome! I'm Sheri, a Certified Plant-Based Nutritionist & Dietician for over 25 years. I ate my way to better health and weight loss with zero supplements and zero fad diets. How? Transitioning to a super simple, healthy, and fulfilling whole food plant-based diet. Now, I am passionate about helping others do the same!
- Hess, J. M., Jonnalagadda, S. S., & Slavin, J. L. (2016). What Is a Snack, Why Do We Snack, and How Can We Choose Better Snacks? A Review of the Definitions of Snacking, Motivations to Snack, Contributions to Dietary Intake, and Recommendations for Improvement. Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.), 7(3), 466–475. doi:10.3945/an.115.009571
- Forwood, S. E., Ahern, A. L., Hollands, G. J., Ng, Y. L., & Marteau, T. M. (2015). Priming healthy eating. You can’t prime all the people all of the time. Appetite, 89, 93–102. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2015.01.018
- Fernandez, M. A., & Marette, A. (2017). Potential Health Benefits of Combining Yogurt and Fruits Based on Their Probiotic and Prebiotic Properties. Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.), 8(1), 155S–164S. doi:10.3945/an.115.011114
- TSA Food Travel Guidelines