No Time For A Meal...But I'm All Bar'd Out

Dear Gabby-

I’m a full time working women who never has time to eat a meal. I don't even really like to eat - but I can’t stand the thought of eating one more bar…or insta-meal. How many calories do I really need each day, and what are some ways to ensure I’m getting the right calories with the right foods? Preferably convenient options.


All Bar’d Out 

Hello All Bar’d Out!

Eating a healthful diet can be challenging for many reasons.  Uncertainty of what truly constitutes a ‘healthy’ meal, our daily bombardment of various unhealthy food ads via TV and creative and eye catching marketing, as well as limited time, as you mention, can make the task of eating right seem unattainable and downright daunting.

Luckily, with the right approach, eating healthy and delicious meals can become part of your daily routine in no time.

The key to the right approach is PREPARATION

Preparation in your mind and attitude that you CAN eat healthfully.  And preparation in your schedule and daily routine will make this task become easier and easier.  Making some meals in large quantities so they are available at your fingertips when time is limited, preparing snacks ahead of time, as well as having ideas where you can pick up a healthy meal in a pinch are some ways in which you can accomplish this.

Typically, during the weekend, I make large quantities of oatmeal, homemade granola, mini quiches, or quinoa for breakfast.  I’ll also make brown rice, turkey or veggie chili, I may spiralize some zucchini or sweet potatoes, make a big batch of veggie soup or bake some chicken tenders.  I also take a bunch of raw vegetables like carrots, peppers, tomatoes, radishes, cut them up and divide them into several salad containers with some darky leafy vegetable like spinach or kale.  This way, I always have a homemade meal, or a salad available when I want one.  It’s time savers like these that will really help you stay on course with eating a healthy meal, even when you don’t have the time or energy to prepare something.  The prep helps prevent you from making a last minute decision, when you’re already hungry and ready to eat anything, or the ‘wrong’ thing.  

Supermarkets have also come a long way in terms of the food they prepare ‘in house’.  I find that when I am pressed for time, I will go to ShopRite, Whole Foods or Wegmans and go to their prepared foods section for a healthy meal.  All of these grocery stores offer healthy vegetable, protein and whole grain options that are usually very close to tasting like you made it at home.   Choose a lean meat, like grilled chicken breast or plant based protein like tofu with some grilled, steamed or raw vegetables and you have yourself a healthy, satisfying meal.  Try to avoid or limit the items that are drowning in dressings, dips or sauces because they typically have excess sodium or sugar.

 As far as the number of calories you should be consuming; that is a tricky question to answer.   I would need to know more about your lifestyle in terms of your daily activity level, and whether or not you live an active, moderate or sedentary lifestyle. 

But, without knowing this information, you can follow these guidelines:

  • If you are looking to maintain your weight, you’ll want to expend as many calories as you consume.  
  • If you’re looking to lose weight, you’ll want to expend more calories than you consume.  
  • And, yep, you guess it; if you want to gain weight, you should consume more calories than you expend.

Lastly, ‘insta-meals’ and protein bars can contain a lot of calories, sodium and sugar too.   Some protein bars could actually be considered a candy bar and some processed foods could contain your daily recommended amount of sodium in just one serving.  So, you’ll want to read the labels of these items and ensure that you are aware of what is actually in these products.

And, just like anything else, once you begin incorporating these strategies and changes into your daily routine, you’ll find that it becomes easier the more you focus on it.


Valerie #kickingassandeatingright