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Eating in a Rush – What to Do?

Man meal prepping dinner in Tupperware containers
Life gets busy. So what do you do when you’re in a rush but still need something to eat? Should you eat or wait for the next meal? If you do eat, how big should the meal be? Fast food? Home cooked? It’s normal to have these questions when rushing out the door. Below we’ll offer some tips on what foods could make sense when headed to work, which fast food options to consider, how to be prepared in these situations, and more.

Should You Skip a Meal?

Let’s address what’s on everyone’s mind. Should you skip a meal when in a hurry? In short, it depends. You’ve heard the phrase, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” but it’s not. No meal is more important than the other. Focusing on keeping your body fueled and energized is what’s most important. Some people feel fine skipping breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Some people like three larger meals a day. Others want just a large breakfast and a large dinner. But it’s a little different for you as a bariatric patient. Current research shows that about five small meals a day induce satiety without the pain of overeating. Maybe have a light protein shake if you’re not hungry in the mornings but feel tired when you get to work. If you like dinner but are trying to lose weight, keep it small and eat before it gets too late. Again, it’s up to you to stay energized throughout the day, regardless of your routine, and you can and should experiment until you find your groove.

Fast Food

Let’s say you head out the door, and your stomach’s growling. You know all the fast-food restaurants on the way to work, but you’re questioning whether it’s worth risking your fantastic progress. Firstly, if your stomach is speaking to you, listen to it. Secondly, not all fast-food options are unhealthy. No one is saying to stop and order a double cheeseburger with extra fries, but you need to get something to energize you, and there are options. You can consider something like a grilled taco or a deconstructed breakfast sandwich for breakfast. Focus on the ingredients. Even Starbucks has healthy breakfast sandwiches on whole wheat bread with egg, sausage, and cheese. Are these places the healthiest to choose from? No. But does it avoid a food blowout later? Probably.

Only if You’re Disciplined Enough

Avoid pancakes, cinnamon rolls, and other sweets, to name a few, while avoiding fatty or sugary drinks. So, what if you forgot your lunch or are too hungry to make dinner? Easy. It’s pretty much the same thing as breakfast. Avoid too much bread, grease, cheese, and sweets. We know it’s tempting when it’s in your face at the drive-through, but you can still be creative with healthier options. Many of these spots have salad options, but that’s okay if you’re not into that. Make a protein bowl at Chipotle and skip the queso. Order a grilled chicken sandwich at Chick-Fil-A, and ask for fruit instead of fries. Hold the butter on the bun. Even burgers can be healthy if you can get them on whole wheat bread (or no bread at all), with no cheese, and substitute the fries for a healthier option. Lastly, it may be tempting to go to a place to get chicken tenders. It’s chicken; it can’t hurt. Well, it can if it’s fried. Remember, these fast-food restaurants aren’t focused on your health, but there’s always an option.

Be smart, disciplined, and creative when ordering a healthy fast-food meal – you’ll get the hang of it quickly. And listen to your body. If you feel decidedly worse after a meal, you’ll know not to get the same thing again. And lastly, be sure this is only an occasional occurrence. Doing this often really will lead to weight gain.

Meal Prepping

It’s not everyone’s favorite thing to do, but taking an hour out of your week to meal prep will save you time and help you stay disciplined in your diet. You can do this for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and never run out of options when in a hurry. Just take them out of the fridge, pop them in the microwave at home or work and enjoy. Few people meal prep for breakfast, but you may want to if you have hectic mornings. For example, egg casserole is a favorite. You’ll need about six to eight eggs, a lean protein, any vegetables you enjoy, and a pan or tray to put it all in. You can also put a little cheese on top. Just be careful with the amount you use. Let it cook in the oven for the prescribed time, and boom, you have a quick and easy breakfast meal option.

Not big on eggs? Overnight oats are another healthy option. Fill a third with flax seed, a third with oats, and a third with skim or almond milk in a mason jar, followed by any other fun ingredients you enjoy, like fruit, peanut butter, and more. Get creative with it!

Lunch and dinner are self-explanatory. Make sure you’re getting your protein (chicken, lean beef, pork, fish, etc.), some vegetables (broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, mixed beans, Brussels sprouts, etc.), and starch too (brown rice, sweet potatoes, etc.). It doesn’t take too long to get all this together, but it saves you plenty of time in the long run and keeps you on track. Don’t forget great options like lentil stews that can be eaten, reheated, and enjoyed again for days while providing low-calorie fiber and nutrients.

Stress Eating

We all do it. It’s natural to stress eat. This could be due to feeling anxious or just bored. If this is a common occurrence, there are several ways to hack it. Taking on your stress eating problems starts in the grocery store by ensuring you only have healthy options in your home. Worrying about salty snacks and sweets is one thing, but it would be much better if you could only pick from fruits, nuts, and low-calorie snacks. Another hack would be to get out of your house. Study or work at a library, hang out with friends, or walk. It’s a little more challenging to stress eat when you’re busy. Your discipline outside the home is invariably better than when you’re in it with everything at your fingertips. It’s also an excellent way to meet people and keep your spirits up in times of stress.

Calming Foods

You may think ice cream and salty chips are calming foods, but not really. These foods only leave you wanting more while leaving you less healthy than before you cracked the bag open. Magnesium-rich foods are usually highly nutritious. Leafy greens like spinach, nuts, seeds, and whole grains are bound to do the trick with stress. Food with zinc, such as oysters, cashews, liver, lean beef, and egg yolks, can work well too. But it also to helps avoid stress and anxiety-inducing foods/drinks. Try your best to avoid alcohol, caffeine, added sugar, and processed foods like chips, cookies, and microwavable meals. These seem like quick and easy eating options, but they can mess up more than just your physical health.

Remember, Your Inner Peace Often Starts in Your Stomach!

Of course, this may seem overwhelming, especially if you are not used to this kind of healthy dieting. We don’t pretend you can stop eating everything bad for you immediately. Instead, we are big proponents of habit stacking, which means tying a new habit to an existing one. For example, if you have a cup of coffee every morning, stack that habit with a big cup of water. This ensures you stay hydrated and gets you off to a great start.

Finally, be sure to use the support resources around you. We are here to help. You can also speak to support group friends who have likely dealt with this before. Most importantly, don’t shy away from your support system if things are not going well. Rely on them even more during challenging times.

We look forward to celebrating your many achievements as we follow you on this journey to renewed health.

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