Ever wonder how health experts find balance during really crazy schedules? We asked Amelia Winslow, the nutritionist behind Eating Made Easy to share her personal strategies for balancing her own health with all of her responsibilities at work and home (including being a new mom!) Here are her excellent tips.
Willow & Stephanie: You’re a busy new mom. How has this changed the way you eat and cook?
Amelia Winslow: Gone are the days when I washed & chopped lettuce every night, made my own hummus, and baked fresh bread every week. (Ha–yeah right!) I still eat many of the same foods, but I now rely on healthy “convenience” foods like bagged salad greens, store-bought dips & dressings, and quick-cooking grains like quinoa and whole wheat couscous.
W&S: How important is planning, with regards to sticking with healthy eating when you’ve got a million other things on your plate? Do you have any special planning tricks or tips that help you with planning?
AW: Planning is key, especially when it comes to what food you keep in the kitchen — because what you have is what you’ll eat. To increase the chances of eating well during a crazy week, I prep veggies & fruits right when I get home from the grocery store, so that I have these to snack on and toss into salads throughout the week. I also cook one grain (that I can use in multiple ways), as well as boil & peel eggs, cut cheese into cubes, and drain & rinse a can of beans so I have some protein sources ready-to-go. This process takes about an hour, but makes a whole week of healthy eating pretty darn easy.
W&S: So many people want to cook more at home, but see it as an unrealistic time investment. Any tips to save time in the kitchen for someone interested in cooking more meals at home, but with little free time?
AW: Shift your thinking from “cooking” meals at home to “assembling” meals at home. The planning, effort, and recipe-following that it takes to cook can be overwhelming, but throwing together a salad, stir-fry, omelet, or veggie quesadilla is easy, quick, and tastes really good! Save special meals for weekends or holidays; the rest of the time, keep your kitchen stocked with basic ingredients you like and feel comfortable with, so tasty meals are just a few minutes away. Here’s my formula for putting together meals without a recipe.
W&S: Are there any helpful ways that you can think of to save time at the grocery store?
AW: Make a list. If you don’t have one, you’ll wander aimlessly, feel overwhelmed, and come home with a random array of foods that don’t go together. Here are my tips for what to buy on a shopping trip and how to make the most of it when you get home.
W&S: During times when it all just feels a bit overwhelming — like your to-do list would require a 24-7 assistant to get it all done — what are your words of advice for striving to keep healthy habits in mind?
AW: Lower your expectations a little. On super busy days, it won’t be possible to do everything right. So pick one thing that you will do well, and let the rest slide a little, just for that day. For me, exercise is usually the first thing to go, so on the days when I don’t move much, I make a special effort to eat more veggies & fruits than usual. At the end of the day, I still feel like I kept my health in mind.
W&S: If you could give one piece of advice about healthful eating in a very busy 2012, what would it be?
AW: Make mini-goals that you can measure on a day-by-day basis. For example, instead of a goal like “lose 10 lbs by March,” give yourself a goal like “replace that afternoon bag of chips with a piece of fruit.” Meeting your mini-goals will add up to the achievement of your longer-term goals, but you won’t feel as overwhelmed so you’ll be more likely to stick to your new healthy habits.
W&S: Thank you so much for your inspirational answers! Readers… what things do you do to make it easier to stay on track when life makes it a little more challenging?