If you thought tax season was rough, try eating healthy every day. According to the International Food Information Council Foundation, more than half of Americans think that figuring out their taxes is easier than eating healthy. With the average worker’s day being as busy as it is, it’s understandable that finding healthy food options is not always easy. Sitting in rush-hour traffic to and from work and shuttling kids to dance or soccer practice leaves little time to prepare healthy meals and snacks.
As many as one in four Americans rely on fast food to keep them fueled every day. While convenient and cheap, a fast food habit poses serious health risks, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, stroke, kidney dysfunction, and even osteoporosis. Luckily, with a little effort, there are ways to eat on-the-go without compromising your health. The key is planning and prepping ahead of time so that your fridge is always stocked with healthy options.
Eat Healthy At Work:
You don’t have to settle for whatever is in the vending machine or in the break room. Donuts and chips may be tempting, but home-prepped meals are tasty, cheap, and healthy. Here are some great suggestions for office-friendly foods.
Plan ahead for those little cravings in-between meals.
- Nuts: Almonds will satisfy your hunger, while pistachios are high in antioxidants
- Veggies and hummus: Carrot sticks, broccoli, and snap peas all go great with hummus
- Fruits: Bananas will keep you feeling full while providing stress-relieving potassium; blueberries aid in cognitive function, keeping you sharp all day
- Greek yogurt: Add your favorite topping (honey or fruit) and you have a delicious combination of vitamins that will help prevent anxiety
Meal-prep your lunches to bring to work with you. This will help you save money and avoid unhealthy choices.
- Salads: Caesar, Caprese, Asian, Greek, or Summer… whatever your favorite salad, pack it! Mason jar salads are a fun favorite.
- Proteins: Sandwich bites, chicken or egg salad, and meat-and-cheese kabobs are all great protein options.
- Fruits and vegetables: Whip up some guacamole with pretzel chips, sliced tomatoes with light ranch, or pack your favorite fruits, such as melons and berries for easy eating healthy at your desk.
Start Your Day Right:
Everybody knows the old saying, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” It may be true, but who has the time? A balanced breakfast should contain lean protein, a variety of vitamins, and healthy fats. Here are some quick, out-the-door recipes that will give you a healthy start to your day:
Prepare by bagging the fruits and veggies in advance so that you can dump them into the blender in the morning. Choose a liquid base (milk, yogurt, juice, or tea) to pour in. Add a scoop of your favorite protein powder for an extra boost.
- Berry Blast: One cup each of raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and spinach
- Green Monster: One grapefruit, one banana, one cup each of pineapple and spinach
- Sweet and Simple: One apple, one banana, cinnamon to taste
Make these the night before and refrigerate for a quick, healthy breakfast for the whole family. Simply combine the meats and/or veggies in a bowl and scoop into a muffin tin. Whisk seven eggs and one-third cup of cream with salt and pepper and pour over. Top with shredded cheese and bake at 350̊ for twenty minutes.
- Meats: Turkey or chicken for lean protein, or ham
- Veggies: Spinach, onions, green and red peppers, cooked potato
For a delicious twist on an old classic, layer oatmeal ingredients in a jar or Tupperware. Add a milk of your choice, cover and shake, then refrigerate overnight. In the morning, add your favorite toppings and you’ll be ready to go.
- Layer 1: Half-cup oats
- Layer 2 (optional): Sweeteners like protein powder, yogurt, syrup, or honey
- Layer 3: One tablespoon chia seeds
- Layer 4: Half banana, sliced
- Layer 5: Your favorite fruit, such as blueberries
Snack in the Car
If you run out of time to eat at home, don’t sweat it: Americans eat approximately twenty percent of their meals in the car. There’s nothing wrong with eating healthy on the go, just be sure your snacks are healthy!
- Wraps: Sandwiches can be messy and difficult to eat while driving. Choose your favorite ingredients (turkey, lettuce, cheese, etc.) and wrap them for an easy meal in the car.
- Bistro boxes: Combine some of your favorite finger-foods in a Tupperware and bring it with you. Consider olives, hard-boiled eggs, cheese cubes or sticks, rolled meat slices such as salami and turkey, and nuts.
Drive-Thru the Smart Way
Fast food is not necessarily your enemy. If you make smart choices, the drive-thru can be a cheap, convenient way to fill up.
- Avoid soda: Instead, choose water, iced tea, juice, or low-fat milk
- Go grilled: If possible, choose grilled or baked options over fried
- Get toppings on the side: This way, you can control how much sauce goes on your food
- Add a healthy side: Many restaurants offer apple slices or yogurt
- Don’t super-size: Pick the smallest portion size of fries or burgers
- Get a salad: Just avoid deep-fried or breaded toppings or extra cheese
Eating healthy on a busy schedule doesn’t have to be difficult. Save the stress for tax season; make responsible choices in the grocery store and at the drive-thru, and remember to keep your fridge and pantry stocked with healthy ingredients. With a wide variety or fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats, there are endless easy recipes to meal-prep so that you can grab and go the next time you’re running late.