2016 was not my healthiest.
Sure, I was working out regularly throughout the summer and even cut out meat and dairy for awhile. But those few healthy habits were contrasted by a jam-packed schedule as I took on a year-long marketing contract in addition to This Renegade Love. It left me with late nights, frequent travel and not enough sleep, all of which led to frequent rounds of take-out and poor snacking choices on-the-go. Yep, my busy lifestyle was getting in the way of a healthy lifestyle – it wasn’t until that contract ended that I was able to realize how much my bad eating habits were impacting everything from my mood to my weight to my energy levels.
For my friend Alex Baird, Toronto-based nutritionist of Ripe Nutrition, bad habits actually led her to discover a whole new career path. “I struggled for years with my weight and mood, and I knew that I needed a serious lifestyle change,” she admits. “I went back to school to study Holistic Nutrition and to learn about the science behind food. Not only did it change my life, body, and help battle my depression, but I’m now lucky enough to get the opportunity to help people change their lives for the better through nutrition, the same way it did for me.”
After a trip to the grocery store and at-home cooking lesson with Alex, I realized that eating well is achievable, no matter how busy your lifestyle is (would’ve been great to know in 2016 when I was living off of sugar bursts!). Here are five quick and easy ways that Alex suggests busy girlbosses can ensure they’re eating well without compromising their schedule.
1 Make time for Meal Prep
If there’s one thing Alex swears by for making healthy choices throughout the week, it’s meal preparation. “Prepping ingredients in advance means you can easily make something fresh in the middle of the week with little to no additional time,” she says. “I live by the saying, ‘If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.’ By setting aside time each week to do a grocery shop then prep, cook and portion out some healthy meals, you have no excuses when it comes to staying on track with healthy eating habits.” Start your meal prep routine by making mason jar salads to last you the week, and cooking up some protein like chicken or steak to keep in the fridge and add to dinners.
Related: 9 Healthy Habits For a Better Diet
2 Save time with Batch Cooking
“For batch cooking, all you have to do is increase the quantity of ingredients for a household staple, like chili or soup,” says Alex. ” You can easily throw it in a pot on the stove and create a stockpile of healthy, delicious homemade meals that you can just pull from the freezer when you don’t have time to cook.” For all you busy girls, become best friends with your slow cooker – you can make prep a massive batch of soup in the morning and leave it to cook all day when you’re at work or running errands.
3 Keep Healthy Snacks on You ALL. THE. TIME.
Find yourself adding a doughnut to your coffee order or heading to the vending machine at work when you hit the wall? Alex suggests keeping compact, nutrient-dense snacks with you at all times so you’re not making those convenient, unhealthy snacking choices when you’re out of the house. “I’ll usually make a large batch of superfood trail mix that has an assortment of nuts, seeds and dried fruit or berries,” she says. “My signature energy truffles are also great fuel when you’re on the go, since they’re small, filling and packed with superfood energy.”
4 Try to stay PRESENT when eating
How many of you sit at your desk during lunchtime? Or go to the lunch room and scroll through Instagram? *hand goes way high up in the air* Turns out, we’re actually doing ourselves a disservice. “Mindless eating creates a disconnect between your mind, your munch, and your stomach, which leads you to eat more than is necessary,” explains Alex. “So no multi-tasking while you’re eating! That means no driving and eating, no watching TV and eating, and no surfing the web and eating.” Instead, put the phone down for 10 minutes and be present at meals, actually thinking about the food going into your mouth – you’ll be less likely to overeat and more likely to make healthier choices.
5 Start your day with a high-protein, balanced breakfast
Skipping breakfast is a quick way to make poor eating choices later in the day, but it’s not always easy to ignore that snooze button and give yourself time to whip up a huge meal. “If you don’t have time to sit down and eat, smoothies are really easy to consume on-the-go and they can be packed with great superfoods like hemp hearts, chia seeds, maca powder or greens powder,” suggests Alex. “Chia pudding is also a really great grab’n’go option. Prep it the night before, let it set in the fridge and when you wake up, it’s all ready – makes it hard to skip breakfast!”
Ripe Nutrition’s Make-Ahead Breakfast Chia Pudding
Breakfast has long been touted as the most important meal of the day, and skipping it can lead to mid-morning energy crashes and bad snacking choices before lunch. Here’s Alex’s go-to chia pudding recipe that can be made on Sunday night and last you through the week.
- ½ cup chia seeds
- 1 litre plain Greek yogurt OR 2 cups of non-dairy milk (coconut or almond work well)
- 1 pint fresh local berries OR 1 cup chopped fruit (peaches, figs, mango are great choices)
- 1 tbsp maca powder
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp raw honey or organic maple syrup
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp raw honey or pure Canadian maple syrup
- Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl, except for the fresh berries.
- Divide into four equal portions (250ml mason jars work great for this).
- Top with fresh berries.
- Seal and store for a minimum of 4 hours to let chia expand. Can keep up to 1 week in the fridge.
For more of Alex’s recipes and to learn about her
one-on-one nutrition services, head to the Ripe Nutrition website.