A busy girl’s guide to healthy eating

A busy girl's guide to healthy eating
Work, mates and dates tend to get in the way of eating right. Until now, that is.

You promised yourself that this week was absolutely going to be the start of the new and healthy you. But then your boss asked you to stay back to finish off a report, your girlfriends called you for an emergency new-guy debrief at the pub, and then suddenly it was Friday. And everyone knows Friday is not the day for behaving – when it comes to food (or men, for that matter). So, what’s a busy woman to do? Dietitian Susie Burrell suggests these healthy eating tips that can fit into any schedule. We swear.

1. Take 10 minutes
To avoid those situations where you don’t have any good food options around, you need to plan. All it takes is 10 minutes at the beginning of the week. Sunday is ideal (if your head isn’t hazy with an epic hangover) or Monday morning. Burrell says, “Ideally, it’d be good to know what you’re eating for lunch on most days, and dinner on at least a couple of nights, to keep your nutrition well in control.” Run through your diary for the week to see what commitments might impact your food choices (we’re looking at you Fri-yay after-work drinks). You can compensate the bad days by making sure the meals you can control are nutrient-filled with veggies, lean protein and low-GI carbs.

2. Eat your greens
When you really have no other option but to buy takeout, choose a meal rich with the healthy stuff. “Vegetables are low in kilojoules and they bulk up meals so we eat fewer kilojoules overall,” Burrell tells us. “They’re also rich sources of vitamins, fibre and essential nutrients. If you’re frequently consuming less than two to three cups of veggies on a daily basis, you’re likely to feel bloated and gain weight over time.” So go on the hunt for salads and hearty vegetable soups at lunch, or if you’re eating out, make sure you order an extra side of greens or vegetable-based dishes.

3. Make it up
Dietary perfection is not the goal here. There are going to be days when you eat and drink waaay more than you should. And that’s OK. “A simple strategy to help strike a balance between life and good nutrition is to work towards regularly compensating for these higher-kilojoule days with a day or two of lighter eating. This buffers the effects of overindulgence,” recommends Burrell. Fish is a great choice on days when you want to give your digestive system a break, as are vegetables and soup. Just don’t take this advice as a green light for a juice cleanse. Burrell says this is a big no. “Be wary of cleanses and fasts that encourage juice only, or no food at all,” says Burrell. “These extreme regimens will do your metabolism no favours long term.”

4. Get lazy; shop online
While regularly ordering groceries online might seem like overkill, Burrell suggests doing an occasional shop for snacks at work (and we don’t mean Mars Bars).
“A work delivery of staples and snack foods, such as fresh veggies, tinned fish, and nut or protein bars, can go a long way in helping prevent the daily trip to the vending machine or cafe for high-kilojoule treats and extras,” says Burrell. Other ideas include your favourite yoghurt, nuts, cheese and crackers to serve as nutritious pick-me-ups through the day.

5. Don’t always cook
Couldn’t be stuffed to cook every night? Then don’t. No, this isn’t a trick! “Keep a supply of back-up options in the fridge or freezer, so there are better options on hand than the local Thai or delivery pizza,” Burrell says. When you’re in the mood to be a kitchen goddess, Burrell suggests cooking and freezing a few favourites, like spaghetti bolognaise, stir fries and soups. Another alternative is to sign up for a meal-delivery service a few times a week. Burrell says, “There is a wide range of meal delivery options and generally speaking, the higher the price, the better the quality. If money is an issue, occasionally ordering individual meals can be a much more cost-effective option than ordering a week of meals that you’re unlikely to eat.”

Our picks: Food Delivery Service

Snack pack
We get it: come 3pm you cannot be held responsible for your sugar cravings and you will eat anything you can get your mitts on. Enter Snack Pack. These guys send you a pack of five packaged treats that are as healthy as they are delicious. Come at us, bliss balls!
> Snackpack.co.nz.

My Food Bag
You get the ingredients and the recipes for four or five nights – depending on the bag you choose – so all you have to do is cook the thing. The meals are new every week, easy to whip up and, more importantly, are so darn good.
> Myfoodbag.co.nz.

Delivered Nutrition
There are three programmes to choose from and each one is created by a nutritionist and is low carb and gluten free. We love
the sound of the ‘Rest’ one: getting lunch delivered to work with a snack? That’s the dream.
> Deliverednutrition.co.nz.

Words: Lizza Gebilagin
Photo: Getty Images