What we eat can have a massive impact on our energy levels and overall performance. For those of us with busy lives, the types of food we use to fuel ourselves can make all the difference in staying on top of things.
If you’re someone who is on the go all day, at work, at the gym and at home, then eating the right kinds of food can make all the difference to your productivity and application in all aspects of your life.
Feel Good Foods
While sugary, processed foods and caffeinated drinks will give you a spike in energy levels straight away and feel good at the time, later on this boost will fall again, leaving you feeling more drained and tired than before.
Eating with a strategy
The easiest way to stay on top of healthy eating when you are time-poor is to have a plan of attack. Here are a couple of the easiest ways to fit food prep into your busy routine:
- If you have a block of time during the week, like on the weekends, making one or two bulk meals and splitting them up into single-serve portions to refrigerate or freeze can save a lot of time later in the week. Think basic tomatoey sauces (with mince or beans for some protein) to be used in pastas, nachos or even on rice, or a giant fried rice.
- Do all your food prep at once – if you’re cooking or reheating dinner, pack the next day’s lunch at the same time and leave it in the fridge. That way there’s only one clean-up at the end, and in the morning you can just grab and go!
- When shopping for food, have a list ready that includes ready-to-go ingredients like tuna, rotisserie chicken, cooked rice or quinoa sachets and single-serve tubs of Greek yoghurt, in addition to fruits, vegetables and wholegrain carbohydrates.
- If you do have to get takeout (happens to the best of us!) then keep tabs on healthy options around you at work and at home. Sushi or a wholemeal/multigrain roll with loads of salad are good lunch options, and a basic chicken burger or burrito without creamy sauces are great for dinner.
Meal Ideas for the Time-Poor
Overnight oats: mix ⅓ cup oats, ½ cup Greek yoghurt, a splash of your milk of choice and a handful of frozen berries in a jar and container and leave in the fridge overnight. Top with fruit, honey, coconut, peanut butter… whatever you like!
Untoasted muesli with Greek yoghurt and plenty of fruit.
Smoothie with yoghurt, milk, fruit, greens (like spinach), honey, and oats. Perfect for when you’re out and about – add chia seeds or a scoop of protein powder to keep you fuller for longer.
Wholegrain roll with egg/meat/tuna/tofu, plenty of salads and a sauce like mustard or low-fat mayo.
Salad with plenty of greens and other veg, chicken breast/tuna/tofu/egg, and a cup of beans, rice or quinoa.
Make use of a supermarket rotisserie chicken in pasta sauces, salads, stir-fries, or just about anything for a protein boost.
Easy fried rice: leftover or fresh cooked rice, frozen vegetables, chicken or tofu, egg (optional) and soy/sweet chili/oyster sauce tossed together in a wok.
Sweet potato mash: peel and chop sweet potato into chunks, place in a microwaveable bowl of water, cover and microwave until soft. Remove and mash with a splash of milk of choice or butter – fast, delicious, and goes with everything!
Yoghurt or a muesli bar and a banana – bananas are great as they come self-packaged and ready to go, and are full of essential vitamins and nutrients.
Trail mix – go for one with nuts, seeds and dried fruit rather than with chocolate.
Veggie sticks with peanut butter or hummus – put the dip in the bottom of a jar and stand the sticks up in it for an all-in-one portable snack.
Hard-boiled egg and a piece of fruit.
Source: This is an edited extract from ‘Eating well for busy people’, available from AFA Care and Benestar at https://benestar.com/. For more information about accessing AFA Care resources available at Benestar please visit https://www.afa.asn.au/afa-care