Health and wellness habits can be more difficult to keep up when you have a packed social calendar or are traveling more. You might be tempted to eat less-healthy processed foods on-the-go or forgo the gym or your walking routine if you’re jet-lagged. But you can still stay busy without losing sight of your goals. Here, five tips that set you up for success:
The idea of meal prepping doesn’t have to be stuck in rigidity and unpalatable foods. Taking time in advance to prepare for the busier weeks ahead can ultimately be a huge time saver — and it ensures you have healthy food options on-hand. Plus, spending less time cooking during the week means more time for social outings and other adventures.
To start, take stock of what foods you already have and find recipes that utilize those ingredients. To make things easier, look for different recipes that call for the same or similar ingredients. Meal prepping can also be as simple as chopping vegetables or making a slow cooker meal. Don’t be afraid of taking shortcuts — stock up on ingredients such as pre-cooked meals, rotisserie chicken, pre-sliced veggies and healthy frozen snacks.
Ensuring your snacks and meals are satiating and satisfying can reduce the urge to snack around the clock. Make sure your meals include protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats and fiber-rich fruits and/or vegetables — a combination that keeps you full longer.
When you’re out of our normal routine, eating times can be thrown off as well. That’s why keeping a regular eating schedule is helpful — going too long without eating can increase cravings and may then lead to eating larger meals than normal later.
If you’re traveling, use new restaurants as a way to try different foods and satiating combinations or bring healthy options for outdoor social activities like picnics or pool parties. For example, snack on an apple with a peanut butter packet, homemade trail mix with nuts, seeds and granola, or roasted chickpeas, which are all great portable options to bridge the gap between meals.
Focus on eating foods you enjoy without placing anything off-limits, since doing so can create negative emotions surrounding food. A piece of birthday cake or a hot dog at a baseball game can be a social and pleasurable part of an outing in moderation.
However, if an abundance of sugar makes you feel sluggish, track how much you are consuming and be in tune with how different foods make you feel. By keeping a food journal, you may find eating enough fiber throughout the day and including enough protein at meals makes you feel your best. Focus on incorporating foods that make you feel energized and satisfied.
Sleep is an integral part of health, and an insufficient amount can negatively affect energy levels, exercise motivation, concentration and even appetite regulation, to name a few. Ghrelin, the hunger hormone, is elevated when you don’t get enough sleep. An increase in ghrelin means you’re likely to consume more food (usually foods higher in sugar) than normal, as the body tries to gain more energy.
Keep a consistent bedtime routine and aim to prioritize sleep to maintain good health and reach your goals.
Exercise can help you feel energized and improve sleep. Instead of forcing yourself to partake in a form of exercise you don’t enjoy, try out a new activity like swimming, hiking, biking or plogging. Not only will it help exercise become a sustainable habit, but you’ll also gain more physical, mental and emotional benefits from something you enjoy. Plus, it’s a great way to make social connections. Consider trying a new exercise class with a friend, going for a walk with others in the park or using your lunch break to attend a yoga class with a coworker. Joining a sports team or gardening club can also be a way to make exercise social.