What Recommendations Help Clients With Hectic Schedules Maintain a Healthy Diet?


    What Recommendations Help Clients With Hectic Schedules Maintain a Healthy Diet?

    Busy lifestyles demand smart strategies for maintaining a healthy diet, so we've gathered the wisdom of nine nutrition experts, including Registered Dietitians and Nutritionists. From planning and prepping healthy meals to structuring meals around protein, these professionals offer their best recommendations to help those with hectic schedules stay nourished.

    • Plan and Prep Healthy Meals
    • Control Food Quality with Meal Prep
    • Incorporate Meal-Delivery Services
    • Prioritize Weekly Meal Planning
    • Focus on Meal Planning and Snacks
    • Reduce Stress with Meal Prepping
    • Cook Extra for Next-Day Leftovers
    • Opt for Ready-to-Eat Healthy Foods
    • Structure Meals Around Protein

    Plan and Prep Healthy Meals

    Planning ahead is the best thing you can do to stay on track with a healthy diet. Allotting some time each week to meal prep will ensure you have healthy options readily available, even when you are short on time. Plan ready-to-eat meals, snacks, and easy-to-assemble meals in your fridge, or make large batches of your favorites that can be stored in the freezer and taken out as needed. Meal prepping also helps with portion control, as portioning out meals and snacks ahead of time makes it much easier to stick to appropriate serving sizes. Additionally, having pre-prepared meals and snacks readily available can reduce the temptation to reach for unhealthy choices when hunger sets in.

    Michelle Rauch Msc Rdn
    Michelle Rauch Msc RdnRegistered Dietitian & Nutritionist, The Actors Fund Home

    Control Food Quality with Meal Prep

    When dealing with hectic schedules, you can still maintain a healthy diet. One way is through meal prep; it helps to control the quantity and quality of food while on a busy schedule. You are able to plan ahead to ensure a balanced meal. It saves time, and you don't have to order takeout/fast food when feeling hungry and in a rush. You also don't need to allocate time to cook daily during a busy schedule. You consume healthier food choices to stay on track with your nutrition goals.

    Lisa Young
    Lisa YoungNutritionist and author of Finally Full, Finally Slim, Dr. Lisa Young Nutrition

    Incorporate Meal-Delivery Services

    In today's fast-paced world, one recommendation I often make to clients struggling to maintain a healthy diet amidst their hectic schedules is to consider leveraging meal-delivery programs. These services have evolved significantly, offering a plethora of options that cater to a wide range of dietary needs, including Paleo, low-FODMAP, Mediterranean diets, and many others. An added benefit of modern meal-delivery services is their increasing transparency about ingredients. This level of transparency not only builds trust but also ensures that nutritional guidelines are met with precision, catering to those who have specific dietary restrictions. Such programs save time by eliminating the need for meal planning and grocery shopping, while the customization options available allow for a personalized eating experience. By incorporating meal-delivery services into their routines, clients can enjoy diverse, nutritious, and convenient meals, supporting their health goals without compromising their busy lifestyles.

    Danielle Gaffen
    Danielle GaffenRegistered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), Eat Well Crohn's Colitis

    Prioritize Weekly Meal Planning

    As a spa therapist, I often advise clients with busy schedules to prioritize meal planning. By dedicating time each week to prepare healthy meals and snacks, you can ensure that nutritious options are readily available when time is limited. This simple strategy helps maintain consistency and prevents reliance on fast food or unhealthy convenience options.

    Disha Mehta
    Disha MehtaSpa Therapist, Meridian Spa

    Focus on Meal Planning and Snacks

    One recommendation I often give to clients with busy schedules is to focus on meal planning and preparation. Taking some time at the beginning of the week to plan meals and snacks can save time and stress later on. Plus, it will prevent ordering and eating out. This can involve batch-cooking large quantities of healthy meals that can be portioned out and refrigerated or frozen. Also, having healthy snacks readily available is equally important. You may think you can prepare it at that moment, but having pre-cut vegetables, fruit, nuts, dark chocolate, or yogurt will prevent you from reaching for a candy bar or potato chips, which are usually less nutritious options when hunger strikes.

    Filip Maric
    Filip MaricSenior Fitness Writer, Rucking Basics

    Reduce Stress with Meal Prepping

    Meal prepping can be a helpful and beneficial eating tool to reduce the stress of your hectic schedule while still being able to have healthy and nutritious meals. Start by picking out your busiest days that could benefit from having pre-prepped meals. Choose a simple and nutritious menu, make your grocery list, and shop for your ingredients. Set aside a day to prepare the meals, and store them in the refrigerator. Using pre-chopped produce, both fresh and frozen, is another great time-saving option since someone else has already washed and cut them. These can be enjoyed in smoothies, soups, cooked dishes, and as snacks. Some easy meals to prep include pasta dishes, Buddha bowls, salads, overnight oats, and smoothies/smoothie bowls.

    Dahlia Marin
    Dahlia MarinRegistered Dietitian, Married to Health

    Cook Extra for Next-Day Leftovers

    Prepping and planning ahead! One technique is cooking extra at dinner, so there are leftovers for the next day or days. Also, consider cooking something additional while preparing dinner. Make the most out of time spent in the kitchen and only have to clean up one mess! :)

    Marcie Vaske
    Marcie VaskeLicensed Nutritionist, Oswald Digestive Clinic

    Opt for Ready-to-Eat Healthy Foods

    Easy ways to maintain healthy eating while keeping a busy schedule include:

    1. Purchase foods ready to go, like pre-cooked roasted chicken, pre-cut vegetables, and bagged salads.

    2. Cook grains in large quantities! Be sure to cook grains like quinoa, farro, or buckwheat in large quantities so you can enjoy them all week. This makes for easy on-the-go meals or fast dinner preparations because all you have to do is add vegetables and some lean proteins, like microwaved eggs, tuna, or beans, and you have a balanced, healthy meal.

    3. Enjoy high-protein smoothies that include skyr yogurt, pasteurized egg whites, kefir, nuts or seeds, and fruits or vegetables for balance. These are fast, easy, and healthy!

    Eating fast and healthy meals on a hectic schedule needs to also ensure that cleanup is fast and easy too! So, all these tips include both easy-to-prep, eat, and clean up! Busy schedules are about saving time before and after meals!

    Teresa Maiorano
    Teresa MaioranoRegistered Dietitian. Fertility Nutrition Expert, Live and Love Nutrition

    Structure Meals Around Protein

    Build your meals around protein. There's more nuance to it than that, so let's dig into it.

    Essentially, most people with hectic schedules are also a bit stressed and want to eat on the go. Because they're tired, stressed, and a bit burnt out, they crave sugar and refined carbohydrates as they believe this will give them 'energy'. Ironically, it does quite the opposite, as the constant rising and falling of their blood sugar levels will drain their energy and leave them craving more sugar to try and correct the erratic sugar levels. There begins the vicious cycle.

    So, I would teach them to base their meals around protein and go from there. Here's how I'd recommend it: 1) Choose your protein first: These can be pre-cooked options, so they save cooking time, like pre-cooked chicken or fish. Your protein source will often contain fat too, like salmon or yogurt, for example. 2) Next, add your fruit or vegetables: With breakfast, this will typically be fruit (like with yogurt, for example), but with lunch and dinner, packing in as much veg as possible. 3) Now, a fistful of carbohydrates: This could be muesli with breakfast or a potato salad. Again, pre-prepared options can be great, like a quinoa salad from Waitrose or just a banana to have after you've enjoyed your protein and vegetables.

    This then becomes a checklist so they're not questioning what to eat all of the time. A bit like when you leave the house you say, 'Phone, wallet, keys.' When it's time to eat, you can think, 'Protein, veg (or fruit), and carbs.' The beauty of this approach is that it can be used at home, in restaurants, or popping into a supermarket if you're rushing out for a quick lunch between meetings.

    Let's use this as an example. Someone only has 30 minutes for lunch, and a supermarket is nearby. Here's what this could look like: Protein and fat: Two fillets of pre-cooked salmon Vegetables: Small salad pack with vinaigrette dressing included Carb: Banana to enjoy after This approach is not a hack or a 'quick fix' to eating healthy with little time. It provides a structure to our eating that can be applied in any scenario. Not every meal will be perfect, but at least it gives a foundation to work from and reduce anxiety about what to eat and whether you can find something healthy on the move.

    Robbie Puddick Rnutr
    Robbie Puddick RnutrContent & SEO Lead - Registered Nutritionist, Second Nature Health