How to make time for healthy eating and stay on track

Daisy Whitbread / 1 Jun 2015

In an ideal world, we would all have the time and money to eat a healthy, nutrient-packed diet full of super-foods and homemade, nutritious meals every day.


However, life, work and other commitments invariably get in the way and scupper our best intentions. Instead, eating on the run, lunch at your desk and even skipping meals are unfortunately the reality for many of us. Feeling guilty or beating yourself up for not being perfect is not helpful - this just damages confidence and happiness, which research shows increases the risk of unhealthy behaviours.

Instead, finding ways you can fit healthy habits into your lifestyle is the key to success. Here are some of my tips for fitting healthy habits into a busy schedule:

1. Plan ahead

Try to find 20 minutes on a Sunday evening to jot down a rough meal plan for the week, with plans in place for days you know you are travelling, busy or working late. From this write your weekly shopping list and order online to save time.

2. A helping hand

For times when planning ahead simply isn’t possible, we are lucky to have an ever-increasing range of healthy take-away and delivery options available in London. EatFirst is a brilliant new service that delivers freshly cooked, healthy, balanced meals to your door within 15 minutes of ordering! Every day there is a freshly blended smoothie or juice, which is a convenient way to get 1-2 servings of fruit and vegetables. Main meals provide another serving of vegetables, with healthy whole-grains and good quality protein sources. All the food is prepared by Michelin-trained Head Chef, Jane Tran, and her team using only fresh and natural ingredients and unlike a lot of processed, shop bought foods, they don’t add anything you wouldn’t find in your own kitchen.

Some examples of their healthy meals:

  • Aji Amarillo Grilled Chicken with Rice & Brown Lentils
  • Indian Spiced Salmon with Pearl Barley
  • Freshly Blended Pineapple, Coconut and Banana Smoothie

The Amarillo Grilled Chicken is one of my favourites. This contains the perfect balance of lean protein from the chicken and lentils, and slow-releasing carbohydrates from the rice and lentils. This combination provides sustained energy and keeps you feeling full and satisfied for longer by balancing blood sugar levels. It is also high in fibre, low in calories with only 518 for the entire meal and low in fat with only 7g. Pumpkin seeds make an excellent nutrient-dense addition with their high essential fat and mineral content.

Full ingredients and nutritional information for each meal are provided, making it easier for you to make informed and healthy choices. There is a vegetarian option every day as well as a meat or fish option.

3. Keep healthy snacks on-hand

Keep the following snacks and foods on hand at all times, for example at home, at work, in your bag, car, etc. This way you never get ‘caught out’ or have to resort to the vending machine.

  • Fruit - the perfect, portable snack
  • Oat cakes - top with nut butter or hummus for a balanced snack
  • Almonds and other nuts and seeds - high energy snack
  • Raw food bars - choose ones based on dried fruit and nuts with no added sugar
  • Frozen berries - great to add to porridge or yoghurt for breakfast

4. Supplement your diet

Food must of course always come first in terms of nutrition, however supplements can be a very useful ‘top-up’, boosting any nutrients you may require in higher amounts, and as an ‘insurance’ policy in case you do miss anything (with more than 40 essential nutrients, it’s easily done!).

As a nation we are not meeting all the nutritional guidelines, so many of us could benefit from a helping hand. For example, the last National Diet and Nutrition Survey found that the majority of people ate no oily fish at all during the four-day survey period!

Vitamin D intakes are another area of concern, with many people believed to be deficient in the UK due to the lack of sunlight, which is our main source. It’s not that easy to get vitamin D through the diet either, due to the very limited number of foods that contain it, so the government now recommends supplementation for people who get limited sun exposure. Average fruit and vegetable intakes also fall short at around 4 servings per day. When you consider that 5 was always supposed to be a minimum and that 7 or more is in fact optimum for health, there is much room for improvement here as well.

Another problem is that even when we do eat a healthy diet, intensive farming methods and the way food is grown and manufactured these days, mean that the nutrient content of foods can be depleted.

To help you make up for any shortfalls, VITL provides a monthly supply of high quality supplements to cover all your nutritional needs. Each beautifully designed box includes a multivitamin and mineral (containing 15µg of vitamin D), a krill oil capsule providing essential omega-3s, a supergreens supplement containing high antioxidant superfood extracts such as green tea, spirulina, goji berry and broccoli and a Co-Enzyme Q10 supplement, which is a nutrient needed for energy production in the body.