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"How to Prioritize Nutrition in Your Busy Schedule: Strategies for Busy People"


Are you a busy parent or professional (or both) who recognizes that they need to make changes to optimize their nutrition behaviors in order to reach their goals, but struggles to consistently “make it happen?” You may have even calculated your ideal energy and macronutrient intake and tried to make the necessary changes but then life gets in the way. I observe this regularly and know that it often leads to the inconsistent “yo yo” nature of our nutrition culture today.

 

When someone comes to me voicing these frustrations, we often shift our focus to nutrition strategies that have nothing to do with calories or macronutrients. That’s not to say that optimizing energy intake and macronutrient ratios isn’t important, because it is, but nailing down these other behaviors first can help lay the groundwork to make the other stuff feel significantly easier and more sustainable for the long term. These are three of the top strategies to consider if you feel like you fit the profile I described above.

 

1.     Prepare the majority of your own meals. This one might be tough at first if take-out has become a crutch for those time crunched days, but try to make incremental improvements. Bring leftovers for lunch instead of grabbing something near the office. If mornings are crazed, maybe opt for a protein shake or batch prep some egg cups ahead of time. Pick one or two meals each week that are special take out meals or meals out of the house. Be thoughtful about your choices. By preparing your own meals you will have more control over how much and what exactly you are consuming. Not only is this important from a calorie and macronutrient perspective but it gives you more connection to the food and the meals that you are choosing and enjoying which is an important part of developing the deep wellness that will serve us throughout our lifetime.

 


Meal planning for nutrition success.

2.     Make a food agenda for the days or week ahead (that takes into consideration schedule challenges), use this agenda to make a grocery list and make sure that you have the food you need ON hand. If you have a partner and/or kids, involve them in this process. Everyone can help come up with meal ideas (but keep it simple most of the time) and you and your partner can come up with a routine for grocery shopping (or ordering groceries) that works for your family. I can’t emphasize this enough, if you do not have the food you need on hand for all of your meals, it is nearly impossible to be successful with your nutrition goals. In our house we simplify this process by eating primarily the same thing for breakfast every morning and our “big snacks” during the day, so those items are on the list every week. We also eat leftovers for lunch throughout the week, meaning that we only really have to plan dinners. When planning dinners, we look at what evenings are going to be really busy and either work in an “easy meal” like taco night OR a meal where some of the components can be prepped ahead of time to make it more likely that we will be successful when dinner time rolls around! You can find your own strategies, but these are VERY helpful!

 

3.     Try to eat as many meals as possible with family, friends, coworkers or at the very least without the distraction of screens. Sharing meals with others helps us to eat more slowly and more mindfully, developing an understanding of hunger and fullness cues that is so important to naturally regulating intake. It also creates a culture of sharing and connection around food that can have a major impact on the way that we (and our children) navigate what has become a very complicated nutrition landscape.

 

Sharing a nutritious meal with friends and family

 

Once the consistent implementation of these behaviors turns them into habits, you will likely feel more equipped to home in on other important strategies - like optimizing protein intake, assessing overall energy needs and adjusting other macronutrient ratios as necessary. Making sustainable, lifelong nutrition changes is NOT easy and it takes continuous daily effort but finding strategies that support the season of life you are in can make all the difference when it comes to your (and ultimately your family’s) success!



Jackie Iannoni NSCA CSCS, PN1 is the Owner and Founder of Build-Wellness and is the remote nutrition coach for Ridgeline Athlete. If you're interested in learning more about how she can help you dominate your nutritional performance don't hesitate to reach out to her at the link provided.

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