Number one reason people make poor food choices?  Drumroll please…… Lack of time Does this come as a surprise to anyone?  Of course not!  We are busy, busy, busy!  Food is an afterthought.  More often than not, we decide what to eat once we are hungry, and then look for a convenient “fix” so that we can move on with our day.

42-15533748Yes, quantity of food is important, but that does not minimize the significance of quality.  Healthy food will always be in short supply when you are stuck in traffic, at the office, your kids’ practices, in a meeting, or waiting in line.  By the time we get to eat, we are “starving” and grab the wrong thing simply because it is available.

These situations happen daily and they take their toll on our health as Americans.  We put more thought into the type of gas we put in our cars than we do fuel for our bodies.  (We even purchase them at the same place…gross!)

The following is an action plan and prevention tips.  Carve out some time each week to plan your meals and snacks in advance.  You should know exactly what you are going to eat and when you are going to eat it when you wake up in the morning.  In this way, you are prepared for the day ahead…mentally and physically!

Assorted fruit1.  Use an hour on the weekend to cut up fresh fruits and veggies for the day.  Pre-make salads and throw enough meat on the BBQ, or in the oven, for lots of leftovers for sandwiches and stir fry’s later in the week.  This will cut way down on the processed junk you eat “in a pinch.”

2.  Pre-pack food in appropriate portion sizes.  Tupperware containers come in a variety of shapes and sizes for every member of the family.  Get into the habit of “grab and go” with healthy choices.

3. Invest in coolers!  Bringing a small cooler of snacks and meals filled with healthy options to work with you may get you some snide comments from co-workers…that is until they see your waistline shrinking.  Purchase a medium sized cooler to keep in the trunk of your car for quick stops during commutes or kids practices to load up on produce, and fresh protein options.  Keep a large cooler available for car trips, kids games, or long days away from home so you won’t be so tempted to eat take out, or garbage from the gas station.

4. Eat every 3-4 hours.  Schedule it!  Never let yourself get starving.  It is impossible to make healthy choices once you are that hungry.  Also, the human digestive machine works most efficiently when fed at regular intervals.  Small meals regularly throughout the day should be a daily habit that keeps metabolism moving, energy levels consistent, and mental clarity and focus in check.

Notice that by creating a plan, you not only save time during the week, but also money.  Do the math…it’s a win/win!

Check out the previous Rules For Eating here: Rule #1 and Rule #2

Jerny Rieves, cscs, pes, ces, health education - health educator - Scottsdale