If you’re trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle, you know how difficult it can be to balance eating right with all the other demands on your time — like your job, commute, family and friends. Fortunately, with a little prep work, research and organization, you can keep healthy food part of your daily routine no matter what you have going on in your life.
Here are some tips for making healthier choices while on the run:
1. Pack fruit in your bag.
Besides the fact that fruits are a healthy snack, which seems obvious, one of the biggest bonuses about them is they are extremely portable. Every morning, make sure you have a few pieces of fruit stashed away in your bag. A great go-to is the clementine. These “cuties” will last all day long and have the advantage of being much smaller than oranges — you can bring three or four of them with you and eat one or two in between meals. Of course, the choice is yours on which fruits to pack, but we also recommend the Honeycrisp apple. This seasonal fall favorite just might get you excited enough to eat fruit more often, since this specific type of apple isn’t always readily available.
2. Pick the right yogurt.
Yogurt cups are also easy to cart around with you. Beware, however, that many brands load their yogurt with an unnecessary amount of sugar. Don’t worry, though, you aren’t stuck with plain yogurt because there are plenty of healthy options. One of the best on the market today is from the brand Siggi’s. Their Icelandic style, all-natural yogurt is made from the milk of grass-fed cows, contains no aspartame, sucralose, gelatin, artificial colorings, preservatives or high-fructose corn syrup. It’s available with 0% fat, 2% fat and 4% whole milk. The best part? Siggi’s flavor varieties have between 9 and 11 grams of sugar per serving and all are high in protein. (Most other yogurt brands add up to an alarming 25 grams of sugar per serving.) Siggi’s also offers a drinkable yogurt, which you can use for smoothies, and yogurt tubes for kids, which have only 5 grams of total sugar and only five ingredients.
3. Don’t forget your water.
Drinking plenty of water is arguably one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Even mild dehydration can affect your body negatively—your energy levels, physical stamina and brain function can be impacted significantly without the proper amount of daily water intake. If you’re not sure how much you should be drinking, a good rule of thumb to follow is to base it on your body weight. Multiply your weight by two-thirds (or 67 percent) to determine the right amount of water for you. A 175-pound person, for example, would need 117 ounces of water per day.
An easy way to remember to stay hydrated is to invest in a sturdy water bottle that keeps liquids cold or hot for long periods of time. One of the most solid options available is the stainless-steel, double-insulated walls of the HydroFlask water bottle, which can keep its contents cold for 24 hours and hot for 12 hours. Offered in a large variety of sizes and colors (which can be customized to your preferences through their company website), the HydroFlask will also just flat out impress you — even ice cubes won’t melt within that 24-hour time period.
Another way to stay hydrated is to invest in a Brita water-filter pitcher for your fridge at home so you are encouraged to drink more water on nights and weekends. There are several options available, but the one with the biggest wow-factor connects to your Wi-Fi network, tracks your usage and reminds you to replace your filters.
4. Don’t underestimate the power of smoothies.
If you’re constantly dashing from place to place, these mini-meals are perfect for you. The problem is the prep work pain involved in having a smoothie ready to go. Chopping fruits or veggies and measuring other ingredients is tedious and time-consuming. Try setting aside some time each night to prep, or plan and prep your ingredients for the coming week on Sunday. Then you can quickly grab the ingredients from the freezer in the morning and have your smoothie ready in just a few minutes.
You can also use smoothies to curb your sweet tooth. Finding recipes like this one that include both protein to keep you fuller longer and sweet ingredients like chocolate, banana and raspberries will help you feel like you’re not depriving yourself of things you love.
5. Pre-plan all your meals.
This just might be the most important tip on the list because it helps remove the stress of trying to figure out a meal when you’re already stretched for time and energy. Let’s say you’re driving home from work and you’re starving. If you know you have meat already defrosting in your fridge and some veggies ready to be cooked, you’re much less likely make a detour to the drive-thru. Plus, if you’ve already purchased your weekly groceries, you won’t want or need to spend even more money on fast food.
Make it fun and healthy by using seasonal ingredients in your meals. For example, this apple-gouda-stuffed chicken breast recipe, is great for fall. Plus, it is easy-to-make and affordable. Pair it with roasted sweet potatoes or rainbow fingerling potatoes.
To help you plan your meals, get a dry-erase board for the front of your fridge so you can keep track of the meals you plan on making each day of the week.