How To Eat Healthily When You’re Busy

Healthy Eating for Busy PeopleTrying to eat healthily is a challenge. My diet is my biggest downfall. I have a major sweet tooth and an obsession with cheese (preferably alongside some bread to create a pizza).

It’s so easy to eat poorly, especially when you’re busy and, what’s worse, is that it’s easy to eat poorly without even realising it. Getting a coffee and cereal/granola bar from a cafe on your way into work could see you consuming 675 calories, 22.3g of fat and 51.2g of sugar and, chances are, you’ll still be hungry (or will be in a few minutes). Not a great start to the day!

Lunch generally doesn’t get much better, even a shop bought salad is covered in high calorie dressing. And, when you finally get home after a long day at work, a quick ready meal, or even a takeaway often seem like the only feasible option – high in calories, fat and salt – not at all good for you. But you knew that already!CoffeeFor most people, including myself, the problem is twofold. Firstly it’s a lack of time (or just laziness). Secondly, it’s the temptation. Both of these things are completely in your control, you can always find time to cook “proper”, healthy meals and, whilst it might be difficult, you can also overcome the laziness and resist the temptation. Admittedly, finding time to cook is much easier than resisting the temptation of pizza but it’s important to remember that healthy eating doesn’t mean no “treat meals” – it’s all about moderation.

Having depression drains my energy and motivation. It makes it almost impossible to decide what I want to eat right now, let alone get up and make it. And forward planning? Forget it. But, over time, I have learnt that eating healthily actually gives me more energy, as well as something positive to focus my attention on. Making meal plans each week, making my lunch in the evenings and cooking home-made meals gives me a sense of achievement and the cooking itself can actually be quite therapeutic.

Obviously, eating healthily has lots of other benefits, even if you don’t have depression. Eating the right foods can give you an energy boost, help you lose weight and reduce the risks of strokes, cancer, heart diseases and type-2 diabetes.

Like I’ve said before, healthy eating takes planning and preparation in advance. To help you out with some ideas I’ve started a Recipes section on the blog; you can find the first one here.

I hope you enjoy!

Spanish-Style Chicken Bake (Hairy Bikers)

Spanish-Style Chicken BakeThis is one of my favourite week day meals. This recipe is taken from The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight book. It’s really easy to make and it usually lasts for 2 or 3 meals!

Serves                  4 (or you can save some for later in the week)

Prep Time          15 minutes

Cooking Time   1 hour

Calories               370 per serving

Ingredients

1 medium onion, cut into 8 wedges

1 medium red onion, cut into 8 wedges

500g sweet potato, cut into cubes (the original recipe uses new potatoes but I think sweet potato works really well)

8 whole garlic cloves, unpeeled

8 medium tomatoes, quartered

75g chorizo

2 or 3 chicken breasts, cut into cubes (the original recipe uses 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs)

1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1 green pepper, deseeded and cut into strips

Salt and pepper to season

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Put the onions, potatoes, garlic and tomatoes in a large roasting tin and season with salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Toss everything together lightly and roast for 20 minutes.

2. While the vegetables are roasting, skin the chorizo and cut the meat into thin slices – 5mm is about right. If you are using chicken thighs, put them on a board and carefully slash each one 2 or 3 times with a knife. Season all over with black pepper. Mix the paprika and oregano together and set aside.

3. Take the roasting tin out of the oven, scatter the chorizo over the veg and turn everything a couple of times. Place the chicken on top of the vegetables and chorizo and sprinkle with the paprika and oregano. Season with a little salt and return to the oven for 20 minutes.

4. Take the tin out of the oven. Holding one corner carefully with an oven glove, lift the tin a little so all the juices run to the opposite end, then spoon and drizzle the juices back over the chicken. Tuck the pepper strips loosely around the chicken and vegetables.

5. Turn the oven up to 220°C/425°F/Gas Mark 7. Put the tin back in the oven for another 20 minutes or until the peppers are just softened and the chicken is golden and crisp.

Running – Tips For Finding Motivation

Finding motivation to run

With Tough Mudder only three weeks away, I’ve been trying to pick up the frequency of running to 3 or 4 times a week. But it’s hard, especially when you’ve been at work all day. So this week I’ve been thinking about what motivates me and what keeps me going when the thought of going for a run is the last thing on my mind.

  1. Start slow – Build up your pace, as well as the distance that you run slowly. Remember that we all have to start somewhere. You’re a hero for just stepping out of the door with the intention to run. If you start slowly, you’re more likely to have the energy to keep going; and completing a run is much more rewarding than starting out too quickly and having to stop half way.
  2. Create an awesome playlist – I can’t run without music. I have a couple of different playlists on my phone for different moods. Sometimes I just need something fast paced and upbeat and others I need something more inspirational. Either way, having music helps me to focus and keep going even when it gets tough.
  3. Find a running buddy – This could be someone you know, a local running group or a virtual running friend. Personally, I like to run alone, to set my own pace, put on my music and zone everything else out. Having said this, I love a bit of competition so I use the Nike running app to share my progress and “compete” with my friends. Other people like to have company when they run so ask a friend to join you. If you don’t know anyone who wants to run with you (or can’t because of location/work hours etc. you could join your local running club or Park Run; most of them are free to join and accommodate varying levels of fitness.
  4. Track your progress – You’ll be amazed at how quickly you improve. Whether it’s distance covered or pace, if you run regularly you’ll see yourself getting better each day. Also, if you’re using an App like Nike Running or Strava, you can have little competitions with your friends which might help you push yourself further. The one downside to tracking your progress is that it is very obvious when you have an off day. But don’t let it get you down; dust yourself off and try again tomorrow.
  5. Don’t think about it – Just put on your trainers and run. I run home from work and I usually spend the whole day going over and over the reasons why today isn’t the right day to run and why tomorrow would be so much better. But, when home time rolls around, I get changed and head out of the door without trying to make excuses. It helps a little that my colleagues know when I’m meant to be running home and wouldn’t let me forget if I took a day off for no reason!
  6. Think positively – Originally, this list was just going to be five items long but yesterday, I saw a really interesting, inspirational advert on YouTube about the power of positive thinking. You can watch the Weight Watchers ad here and whilst it didn’t make we want to go out and sign up to my local Weight Watchers group, it did make me think about the power of positive thinking and the importance of having faith in yourself.

Whether you’re training for your next event, or just enjoy running, keep up the good work!