Lets face it. Life is messy sometimes and it can be difficult to sit down and eat a well balanced meal. Right now is one of those times for me. I recently went full time at my position at the local hospital and my husband and I just purchased our first home. Since we enjoy DIY projects we have been remodeling the home ourselves. At this moment our kitchen floor is pulled up because we are going to install new flooring. We had to relocate our refrigerator and stove into our living room until we finish the new floor. A weekend project has now turned into a month long project due to unforeseen obstacles along the way (which tends to happen with DIY projects :)) Without a working kitchen it has been challenging to prepare home cooked meals and eat my daily dose of fruits and vegetables. To be honest, it has not happened. So I have had to readjust my lifestyle for the time being. Life can come at you in cycles and sometimes you just have to be flexible. Here are 5 strategies to use when you can’t prepare a meal and want to continue to eat healthy.
1. Be mindful- Sometimes it can be difficult to eat healthy when you are eating out frequently, and I don’t always want a low calorie/low fat option. I have been relying on my fullness and hunger cues to guide me through my meals. I tend to eat when my body tells me I am hungry, instead of relying on the clock to guide my mealtimes. I also try to stop eating when I am satisfied. There always comes a point in my meal, when I notice my stomach is beginning to feel full, and at that point I put my fork down. Try to trust your body to let you know when it is time to eat and when to stop.
2. Box it up- Once I feel satisfied with my meal, I push my plate away and ask for a box. Then I use my boxed up meal for lunch or dinner the next day. This saves me time, money, and most likely a lot of calories. I usually do not split my meal in half right way and box it up, because everyday is different and my hunger is different at each meal. There are days when I only eat 1/4 of my meal and others days when I eat my entire entree. Once again I go back to paying attention to my body.
3. Add extra veggies– When you are constantly on the go, it can be difficult to get in your recommended veggies for the day. When you order your meal such as a burrito, sandwich, salad, or pasta dish, ask if you can order extra veggies. Instead of dispersing your veggies throughout the day, it may be easier to eat a larger amount at one or two sittings. Veggies are packed with vitamins and minerals to help keep your immune system functioning at optimum level when you are stressed, and they are also full of fiber to help you feel fuller longer.
4. Grap a protein bar- Remember my previous article Are Protein Bars Right For You? I encouraged whole foods, but protein bars do have a place. They can help fuel your body when you do not have any time to sit down for a meal. Hunger does not always come at a convenient time, but a protein bar can help get you through the hunger spell until your next meal.
5. Sneak in physical activity- I know. I know. Being physically active when you are busy is difficult to accomplish, but any small amount can have health benefits. Park farther away from your work, take the stairs, or go on a 5 minute walk after meals. It all adds up. You might find during this time of the day you are able to relax and let go of your other daily stresses. Plus physical activity can help maintain your weight and release “feel me good” endorphins in your body.
At first eating so often often made me uncomfortable. But I have begun to learn how to embrace my reality and enjoy it for the time being. One day (soon hopefully) I will get my kitchen back and I will look upon the days of no dishes and a different cuisine every night as fond memory.