Nutrition: Busy Life Meals

Consistency is essential for overall fitness, however it is hard to maintain because life gets in the way. This is often seen with nutrition.  Working professionals who are super busy most of the time, and when life stressors get in the way or time is limited, we gravitate towards what is easy– fast food, comfort food, take-out; many times, this habit builds and starts piling on as a norm. 

To avoid this, I always preach prepping meals and preparing yourself for success, as the famous quote says “If you fail to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” However, life happens and sometimes there is not enough time in a day. In that case, if you weren’t able to prepare your foods/meals ahead of time and you don’t bring any food with you to work, there are some things you can do on-the-go to stay on track and not go off the rails completely:

  • Go to a chain restaurant that offers some good meal options. Things and places to consider:

    • Chick-Fil-A, Panera Bread, Jimmy Johns, Jersey Mikes. 

    • At these places, look for options that include a good source of protein, carbs, and healthy fats:

    • Some good examples, to name a few:

      • Chipotle’s Chicken Salad Bowl (chicken, lettuce, black beans, fresh tomato salsa)

      • Jersey Mike’s # 7 Turkey Breast and Provolone Wheat Mini Sub 

      • Denny’s Fitslam

      • Chick-Fil-A’s Grilled Chicken Sandwich, Spicy Southwest Salad, Grilled Nuggets (8 nuggets)

      • Starbuck’s Reduced-Fat Turkey Bacon & Cage Free Egg White Breakfast Sandwich

      • Jack in the Box Grilled Chicken Strips with Teriyaki Dipping Sauce

  • Gas station snacks: 

    • Protein bars: there are a lot of options out there, some good ones to consider are Barebells.

    • Protein Shakes: Muscle Milk is the brand that is most popular, and they have a low-sugar and low carb option at most places.

    • Fruits: Most gas stations have bananas, apples, fruit cups.

    • Beef Jerky: Jack Links is the brand that is most popular. A great source of protein. 

    • To-Go salads: They aren’t gourmet, but can be a good option if you want some protein and veggies, these can be a good quick option.

  • Stop at a local Target/Walmart/Grocery Store and pick up some quick food

    • Protein: deli meat, fat free yogurt cups, pre-cooked meats, cottage cheese

    • Carbs: bread, rice cakes, fruits, veggies

    • Fats: Cheese, full fat yogurts, peanut butter, guacamole, nuts

    • Quick pre-made meals:

      • Salads

      • Sushi. These are a good option if you get the simple ones that aren’t filled with cream cheese, etc.

      • Rice bowls

      • Deli sandwiches such as turkey sandwiches 

Should you make these quick options a norm? Probably not. Although I do not believe there are “good foods” or “bad foods”, I do believe most foods consumed should be whole foods or minimally processed, so that you can get as much micronutrients (vitamins, minerals) for overall health and wellness. If you are solely focused on just macronutrients (protein, carbs, fats), you may be missing out on the small stuff that matters. 

I recommend keeping most meals made at home and avoiding processed foods for all of your meals, that being said– there are things to consider:

  • Gastrointestinal health– do you get an upset stomach if you eat protein bars often?

  • Financial– do you have the ability to afford fast options often? It adds up quickly.

  • Time and Place– do you have time, space, and tools (tupperware) to meal-prep for the week so that you don’t have to make a stop at Chick-Fil-A for some grilled nuggets?

As I mentioned in the first paragraph: “if you fail to prepare, you are preparing to fail”…instead, we recommend to prepare for normal life and to also prepare to the worst case scenario by having a back up plan when you’re in a rush!