By Dr. Roopa Chari, M.D.
Jan 6th, 2014
As we begin the New Year, this is a great time for new beginnings and most importantly making a promise to take care of yourself and your health. Life has become so busy with the daily responsibilities of work, home and family that it seems harder to find time for preparing healthy, nutritious meals!Most of the busy clients I work with want to eat a healthier diet, however the challenge is how can they make it happen in their hectic lives? The good news is that if you are motivated and inspired, you can turn this into your asset to help you implement healthy dietary changes.
The key is to plan your meals ahead of time. This will help you to make healthy choices when shopping for your food and you will ultimately make better decisions.
Here are a few tips to help you plan better so you can eat better and feel better:
- Plan for the week ahead – On the weekend (either Saturday or Sunday), plan out your meals for the upcoming week. Then do all your grocery shopping in one or two trips (this will save you time too). If possible, buy most of your produce from your local Farmers Markets on the weekends, its fresh, delicious, saves you money and supports your local farmers!
- Set aside a couple of hours during the weekend to start preparing your meals. For example, you can chop some veggies, or even cook the entire dish and put it in the fridge or freezer. You can even get your other family members, kids or friends to help out, and make it a family ritual. With families spending less time together due to activities and work, this creates a special bonding time! Kids especially will enjoy and have fun with this. A hidden benefit is that kids are more likely to eat the meals that they help in preparing and you will teach them healthy habits that will last a lifetime.
- “Cook once eat twice (or more!)”– ultimately when it comes to healthy eating, nothing is better than home-cooked meals made from scratch (a whole foods based diet). Having to rush home from work and prepare dinner every evening can be challenging. “Cook Once Eat Twice” can help you save time during the week. You can prepare more than one meal worth of food so you have leftovers for one more meal.
- Keep healthy snacks in your refrigerator, pantry and desk drawer at work – make sure you have some healthy snack alternatives handy to avoid the temptation of the vending machine (which is usually stocked with less healthy options such as chips, cookies and pastries). If a fridge is available at work, definitely store hummus with celery sticks, carrots or broccoli and apples with almond butter.
- If you are always on the go in your car, also keep a handful of nuts, dried fruit, raw veggies or an apple (with nut butter such as almond butter) to give you energy, balance your blood sugar and prevent sugar cravings.
- Keep in mind that fresh whole food is always better than processed foods – even though there are many “bars” on the market with “health claims” – however, most of them contain sugar, additives or processed food products and are hard to digest. If you have to turn to packaged foods, it’s always a good idea to read the labels to make healthier choices.
- Instead of getting caught with nothing for dinner, stock a few healthy frozen options so you don’t have to call in for pizza or go to a fast food restaurant or drive-thru. Make a point to pair frozen meals and fresh veggies (even if it’s just celery or carrot sticks with dips).
We hope that you found this article helpful!
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About Dr. Roopa Chari, M.D.: "Dr. Roopa Chari is a medical doctor in Internal Medicine and her brother Deepak Chari is an Engineer and Certified Biofeedback Specialist at The Chari Center of Health, an advanced integrative medical center in Encinitas, CA. * Sign up for a FREE 15 minute holistic medical consult with Dr. Chari and/or a FREE 30 minute Stress & Anxiety Relief session with Advanced Voice Biofeedback with Deepak Chari here or call (760) 230-2711."