10 Clean Eating Tips for Busy Women
It’s been a whirlwind month! I kicked off the month with a trip to Seattle to speak to the Amazon Ladies’ Leadership (ALL) group on Wellness in the Workplace (more on that later!).
And I’m wrapping up the month with yet another move. This is number 6 for Blake and I in the nearly 10 years that we’ve been together. By now, we’re moving pros, but it’s still stressful. And, one of my major work projects is moving three cardiology practices into one new building. Needless to say, I’m a busy woman these days!
The busier we get, the less likely we are to think about healthy eating. The truth is, this is counterproductive. You might think you’re saving time and being more efficient by grabbing a burger or sandwich and eating lunch at your desk. Until those afternoon cravings strike and you’re reaching for the candy dish. (Just me?)
Eating this way actually reduces your productivity levels. A poor diet causes you to feel tired and lose energy during the day which has a direct impact on the amount of work you get done. It also contributes to a number of more serious health problems such as chronic disease and weight gain.
The good news is that there are plenty of ways to turn your diet around and start eating healthy, even when you are super busy.
Read on to learn my top 10 clean eating tips for busy women:
1. Plan Ahead
People say; “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” and when it comes to healthy eating this is absolutely true. If you don’t put together a plan to eat healthy, then you might just end up eating unhealthy, processed foods. The best way to plan ahead is to list down the foods you plan to eat the following day at the end of each day and then prepare what you can the night before. You may argue that you simply don’t have the time to do this, but realistically it’s only going to take 10 minutes to pack a few healthy snacks and prepare a healthy lunch. Surely you can find 10 minutes at the end of each day to do this?
You can also plan ahead for the entire week. I like to portion out my favorite snacks into small glass containers or Ziplock bags. My go-to snacks are sliced cucumbers, baby carrots, almonds, dried fruit, sliced cheese, gluten-free crackers or pretzels, grapes, blueberries or strawberries. I also like to make my own homemade almond butter or hummus and pack that ahead of time, too. If you’re super organized, you can even label the bags with the day of the week. That way, all you have to do is grab your snacks and head out the door in the morning, and you’ll always be prepared with a healthy option.
2. Don’t Do Your Weekly Shop When You Are Hungry
As part of your healthy eating plan you need to start buying healthy foods when you do your weekly shop. Doing your weekly shop when you are hungry makes this task a lot more difficult as your hunger will naturally draw you towards convenient junk foods.
Pro Tip: make sure you have something to eat before you do your weekly shop. I also like to bring a water bottle with me so I can stay hydrated and energized through a crowded grocery store.
To save even more time (and not spend my weekends fighting the crowds), I order many of my pantry staples on Thrive Market. You can use this code to get 25% off and free shipping on your first order!
3. Take Full Advantage of Fruits
When you’re busy, and you start to feel hungry, what’s your usual course of action? If you answered; “head over to the vending machine and grab a quick snack,” then you’re not taking full advantage of fruits. Fruits can be just as filling as chocolate or potato chips, provide much more nutritional value and contain a lot less calories. Plus, you’ll get a burst of energy from the natural sugars.
They’re quick and easy to eat, so even if you are super busy, fruits are the perfect snack food. Make sure you pack a few pieces of fruit into your bag each day and then when hunger calls you have them readily available.
4. Always Carry Nuts
Nuts are another fantastic, healthy food that you can use as a substitute for vending machine snacks. They provide your body with a selection of health boosting vitamins and minerals along with good amounts of protein and fat. To avoid the temptation of unhealthy snacks make sure you always carry a bag with you so that you can quickly grab a handful whenever your stomach starts to rumble.
5. Incorporate Vegetables into Every Meal
This may sound like too much of an effort when your time is limited. However, if you choose the right vegetables it hardly takes up any of your time at all. Salads, spiralized veggie noodles and pre-chopped vegetables can now all be purchased from supermarkets in a ready to eat form, while canned, diced tomatoes can be heated up and used as a sauce in under five minutes.
I’m also a huge fan of frozen vegetables like kale and spinach, especially the microwave-in-the-bag varieties! This is a huge time-saver for me each week, and frozen vegetables still contain the same amount of nutrients as fresh vegetables. I also find myself wasting less food when I buy frozen.
6. Look for Lean Fish & Meats
When you’re busy and forgot to bring your healthy packed lunch, grabbing a quick deli sandwich or cheeseburger might seem like the best option. But there are plenty of healthier meat choices out there. Most hot deli counters allow you to buy roasted chicken, which is both tasty and nutritious. Most supermarkets also sell cooked chicken breast slices. Lean meats are just as quick to eat as burgers and deli sandwiches but provide your body with higher quality protein and no nasty added ingredients. A core tenet of clean eating is limiting processed foods, so these options definitely fit the bill!
7. Get A Thermos or Travel Mug
One habit I’ve noticed among busy women is that they regularly buy branded coffees, especially in healthcare. This used to be one of my worst habits. My daily Starbucks run caused me to gain 10 pounds in just a few short months - and right before my wedding, too.
It doesn’t seem like such a bad habit on the surface but when you consider that six of the drinks on the current Starbucks menu exceed the 300 calorie mark, it’s a habit that can easily add over 1,000 empty calories to your week. So instead of hitting the coffee shops every day, get yourself a thermos or travel mug and fill it with coffee or tea. Both these options will give you easy access to your favorite hot drink without adding hundreds or thousands of calories to your week.
8. Try Smoothies
Smoothies are an excellent way to fit multiple fruits and vegetables into one convenient drink and the best part is they take just a few minutes to prepare. To make a smoothie you first need to pick the fruits and vegetables you plan to use. Then chop them up into chunks, place them in your blender, add a few other optional ingredients if you like (crushed ice, Greek yogurt, almond milk, etc.), blend until the mixture becomes smooth, then pour the smoothie into a travel cup.
If you want a blast of energy from fresh vegetables, you can also try juicing. Learn more about this and grab my Clean Green Juice recipe when you sign up for the free Clean & Healthy 10-day Challenge!
9. Use Your Freezer In The Right Way
Your freezer is a very valuable tool if you want to eat healthy and save time. If you know you’re going to have a particularly busy week, then cook up a large batch of healthy food at the start of the week, divide it into individual servings and freeze these servings. Then on the days where you don’t have time to cook simply get these frozen servings out of the freezer the night before and warm them up when you’re ready to eat. Doing this will allow you to enjoy healthy, nutritious meals without having to cook every night.
I love cooking up a big batch of quinoa, brown rice or millet, then freezing portions to use throughout the week. Making grains takes a lot of time, so I like to get it out of the way on a less-busy night or on the weekend. This also works well with soups, stews and sauces.
10. Choose the Lesser Of Two Evils
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, events will conspire against you and you won’t be able to eat healthy. You’ll accidentally leave your healthy lunch at home, the local shop near your work will have no fruits or vegetables left and your only choice is to head to a fast food outlet. In these situations, simply choose the lesser of the two evils. Take a look at the amount of salt, the calories and the amount of trans fats in each option on the menu and then choose the least damaging. This isn’t exactly healthy but it’s making the most of a bad situation.
And remember: Cleanish is all about progress and not perfection. If you follow the 80/20 rule, then you can eat healthy 80% of the time and eat whatever you want 20% of the time. Without the guilt. Eating Cleanish is about eating the foods that feel good in your body, and sometimes this means eating foods that feel good in your soul (like French fries!). If you didn’t plan well one week, try again the next week. It takes time to build a healthy habit, so be patient with yourself.
Sticking to a healthy diet is tough at the best of times, but when you’re busy and stressed it can sometimes seem impossible. Eating healthy when you’re super busy is not only possible, but it’s also very manageable if you approach it in the right way. Eating junk food doesn’t do you or your body any good so if you think you’re too busy to eat healthy, it’s time to change that mindset.
And I’m here to help! My Clean & Healthy 10-Day Challenge is the perfect way to start building lasting healthy habits. Think of it as baby steps to helping you look and feel your best. No hours spent in the gym, no raw food diets here. Just simple, healthy habits that you can start tonight. Sign up for free and challenge yourself with the Clean & Healthy 10-Day Challenge!
Been there, done that? Ready to take your health to the next level? Take the next step and enroll in the Clean Eating for Beginners 14-Day Plan. Learn the basics of clean eating, so you can get back to slaying your day.