Meal planning for busy people

One of the most common things I see as a trainer is people coming to me over-worked and under-nourished.

I don’t by any means mean underfed, although I have unfortunately seen that too. What I mean is that these people are attempting to fuel themselves on caffeine, sugar, ready-meals, and crisps, without consideration for what their body needs to work most efficiently. What amazes me is how these clients are able to work so incredibly hard while ignoring their most basic requirements.

It turns into a vicious cycle of energy highs and lows, due to the spiking of blood sugar throughout the day. Maybe it starts with a pastry and a coffee, since there’s little appetite before leaving the house, but ravenous hunger by 9 am. Maybe it just starts with coffee after coffee until the body craves anything to dig it out of the crash that lack of fuel and lots of caffeine can cause. The roller-coaster continues throughout the day, often leaving people too tired to even consider cooking a healthy meal – or even eat at all! It isn’t just a hard day on the job that’s the cause of the problems here, as should be apparent by this point.

I also often see a fairly healthy lunch surrounded by poor food choices; I am of course glad to see anything nutritious in a client’s diet, but many times it is the only vegetables and lean protein I see in their diet at all. Then, at 3 pm, another coffee and crisps or chocolate are on hand to supposedly get them through the day.

It would be easy for me to just look horrified and berate someone abusing their mental focus and physical self – but I have to remember that I have the luxury of a job where I make the hours and have the time and energy to shop and cook daily. No one I’ve seen is lazy, by any means…if anything, they are the opposite! It’s just that in a fast-paced city like the one I live in, it is far too easy to have a long commute, work long hours, and rely on processed foods that require little thought.

But that is exactly what is needed…thought. Taking the time to plan meals and snacks once or twice a week can make shopping easier, meals less expensive and more nutritious, and bring about dietary changes that will ultimately only help the body’s ability to repair, function, and allow us to work at our jobs as hard as we may sometimes need.

So, hopefully I’ve convinced some of you to give it a go. How do you go about it? Create a chart for yourself, if you like, but since you are busy people – use the power of the internet. Money Saving Mom has a number of planning menus for singles, couples, or families. Stuck for ideas? Eating Well has tons of suggestions on meals, even taking dietary needs, certain health conditions, and ease of preparation into account.

Yes, you do have to invest some time into meal planning. However, after a short while, you won’t need to think very hard about how to plan out your week in a way that supports your body and your life. The cycle of inadequate eating and lethargy can be broken. You’ll have a stronger immune system, concentration, energy, and your mood will greatly improve. Your workouts will feel better, and you’ll see results from them far more than with a diet that doesn’t allow for proper regeneration. Your career may even benefit!

Of course, this is just an overview for people who already know what a balanced meal entails.  See my nutrition consultations page if you would like some more thorough and personal advice. There are also many wonderful resources online and at your local library if you would like to know more about nutrition.  If you have any questions or thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment below or use my contact form. I’m more than happy to assist.

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