The two key steps for eating well when busy

The two key steps for eating well when busy

It can be tricky to continue eating well in the face of the airport food court or when sitting at your work desk or even on the road.  Making good food choices is not always the easiest option when faced with a bank of fast food chains and enticing smells when you are hungry and forgot to pack your lunch.  Here are a few tips to take the stress out of our food choices when eating out.

Prepare, prepare, prepare!

It might sound boring but the best way to avoid those poor choices is to have some food you have preselected, to hand.

  • Pack a lunch you prepared the night before;
  • If you are in your car a lot, for work purposes or for kids pickup, dropoff, sports and other activities, have a lunch box container of sorts full of foods that you keep topped up for those occasions when you are in the car and feeling peckish;
  • Slip a simple container of nuts and dried fruit into your handbag for those awkward moments when you didn’t realise the meeting would run that long or the train/plane is delayed. I have many variations of a trail mix – nuts, seeds, cacao nibs, dried fruit, coconut flakes, get inventive;
  • Always carry fresh water. I have a stainless steel drinking bottle that fits my purse.  Often when we feel hungry it is because we are thirsty and have not made time to drink enough, a little water regularly through the day helps to keep our hydration levels optimal;
  • Whenever I cook at home, I always cook more than I need for that particular meal and freeze portions, that way there are always some ready-made meals in the freezer just needing to be reheated, particularly good for those evenings when you come home exhausted, late, stressed or just too tired to care about cooking for yourself or anyone else!
  • Eat before going out. This might sound obvious but there have been many disasters I have avoided by eating a nourishing meal before heading out to a party or a bar or jumping on a train/plane.  Then, when food is presented you can either eat a little if you like or be able to pass by the less than healthy options because you are not starving or experiencing low blood sugars which will help you to hoover up the whole spread!

But what if…..

That is all well and good but what to do when you have forgotten the lunch and all preparation has escaped you?  When you do eat, try to follow these basic principles.

  • Don’t wait until you are starving hungry to eat or you will be tempted by everything! Keep your hunger at bay with a handful of whole, plain nuts.
  • Avoid muesli bars, they are high in sugars and won’t help you to balance blood sugars but simply make you hungrier sooner.
  • Select food that is as whole as possible. Fresh salads with some form of protein (meat/beans/quinoa/peas/eggs) is perfect.  Watch out for those sauces that can be already slathered over pre-prepared foods, go for fresh and hold the sauce or request some olive oil on the side.
  • Avoid deep fried foods.
  • Avoid too much caffeine, it will increase your blood sugar levels and eventually make you hungrier – there is a reason the local café sells coffee and cake together!
  • Brown rice sushi with avocado, salmon and veggies and a seaweed salad with some ginger or a cup of miso soup are nourishing choices.

Remember it is the healthy fat on your plate that will keep you feeling full and sustained for longer so include the avocado, oily fish, plain nuts and seeds, olives, eggs.


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Caroline Scott BHSc (Nutrition & Dietetics) is a holistic dietitian, co-author of a wholefoods cookbook for children and her purpose and passion is to guide people to prevent and reverse disease.