Eating the Right Food with a Busy Lifestyle
For busy working mums, it can be incredibly tempting to survive on coffee for breakfast, fast food at your desk for lunch, and ready-meals in the evenings. It's equally tempting to let the kids eat fish-and-chips twice a week with the occasional tuna pasta and odd carrot stick thrown in for good measure.
But did you know that eating healthily is actually one of the most important things you can do for yourself - and your family? Eating a well-balanced diet not only helps protect your from disease, it also helps your moods, your overall fitness level and your general wellbeing.
When you both work and have children, it's incredibly easy to buy in ready-meals and/or pick at the kid's leftovers rather than spend time slaving over a hot stove. But preparing quick and healthy meals is a lot easier than you might think, and doesn't require you to radically change your lifestyle. Start by purchasing the right ingredients.
Healthy Food Shopping
It's hard to eat healthy at home when your cupboards are bursting with high-fat snacks and processed foods. Start eating right with a healthy shopping list, then go from there. Follow these tips to make sure your trolley is bursting with the right foods.
- Buy whole-grain foods instead of relying on refined flour, including pitta bread, pasta and other hi-carb items. Your kids won't ask for white bread if they're used to something tastier.
- Make fresh fruit and veg – at least five a day - a big part of your shopping list. Frozen veg is always good to have on hand, and fruit with a low-fat yogurt topping and a small sprinkling of dark chocolate always satisfies.
- Protein should consist mainly of fish, lean meat and eggs. Avoid any breaded frozen or fresh items. Don't buy processed meat for sandwiches, instead purchase turkey ham or roast beef. Natural peanut or almond butter are both healthy, high-protein options full of good nutrition.
- Always go for the low-fat dairy options. If you want to avoid cow's milk completely, buy either soya products or goat's milk.
- Keep drinks simple. Water is always best, natural fruit juice is okay but high in sugars. If you must have fizzy drinks, go for diet ones with no added sugar. Children who love fizzy drinks can easily adjust to fizzy water mixed with a bit of orange or apple juice instead of Coke or Sprite.
- Avoid high-fat treats completely and try to keep your sugar intake low. Kids who love sweets can have “sweetie day” once a week and get used to healthy snacks the rest of the week. Having a supply of healthy snacks at your desk will stop you from filling up on junk.
Tips for Cooking Healthy – Fast
- Buy a rotisserie chicken instead of a take-away or ready-meal. They are tasty and low in fat, and if you add a salad and baked potato you've got a quick, easy and healthy meal. Food doesn't have to be difficult to be delicious.
- Buy good frozen veg. Mixed veg medleys can be added to soups, salads and many other food dishes, and is a way to keep up your five-a-day with little or no fuss.
- Invest in a breadmaker and stock up on wholemeal flour. Fresh hot bread is always a treat, and if you practice you can make your own olive bread, healthy pizza dough and other delicacies sure to impress your kids and their friends – and have you eating better too.
- Get a slow cooker. Having a healthy meal in minutes is easy if you plan a bit in advance. Get in the right ingredients, spend 8 minutes on preparation, and you'll have a hot meal waiting when you come home. Buy low-sodium stock and add chunks of meat and veg for healthy, satisfying meals the whole family will enjoy.
- Make your own ready-meals. Spend an evening a month making Spag Bol, chicken casserole, whatever food you and your children like – then freeze them.
Eating right isn't rocket science nor does it require a doctorate in nutrition, and the preparation doesn't have to be very time-consuming either. Try our tips for the next few weeks. Eating better can help you look, feel and perform better as well. Try to incorporate healthy eating into your daily lifestyle, and you'll feel the benefits almost immediately.