Get up. Make coffee. Wake the kids up. Supervise getting dressed. Get yourself dressed. Serve breakfast. Make lunches. Check e-mail. Get to work on time.
But hey — did you forget your lunch? How about breakfast? Was it half a stick of string cheese over the kitchen sink again?
Really. How are you going to make it through the day? The vending machine? Whatever you can quickly get from the drive-thru of a nearby fast food joint?
“I don’t have time to prepare something healthy for me, too,” you may say.
Some local women would like to tell you that’s not true. Packing healthy lunches and snacks for yourself can be as simple as dinner the night before, or even strategic shopping.
“I pack a salad for lunch. When I bring lunch from home I eat healthier.” — Marnie Monfried, Dallas
“My favorite lunch trick is to attempt to have leftovers from dinner. Since I (try to) cook well-balanced and nutritious dinners during the week, it’s a no-brainer for me to just reheat them the following day — or repurpose. For example: Leftover baked salmon may become salmon salad (made with avocado) on crackers. I did this when I worked in an office to avoid the pitfalls of going out for expensive and unhealthy meals. Now, as a stay-at-home-mom, I still do it to avoid the temptations of grabbing something unhealthy while out and about or to keep me from feeling guilty if I do succumb to an afternoon ‘treat’ of some sort. Also, regarding snacks — I usually end up munching on the same things I give my daughter, so I try to keep things on hand like bags of organic Fuji apples from Trader Joe’s, or pop some popcorn, or bags of dried fruit/nuts. Oh and smoothies. Smoothies are big around here. I control what goes in, so they’re healthy but still tasty — and they’re portable when necessary.” — Andrea Perkins, Dallas
“I don’t go anywhere without a KIND bar and baby carrots. They, along with a reusable water bottle, go everywhere with me.” — Jo England, Dallas
“Blue apron. Farm to table easy to cook meals as a foundation. Family that cooks together, stays together. And fresh fruit at the ready!” — Shannon Perry, Dallas. (Blue Apron is a service that delivers the ingredients for dinners, along with the recipes needed to make the meals.)
“I make my own healthy bars and also healthy freezer food that I can warm up when out. If I’m going somewhere where I know I can’t heat my food then I’ll make a healthy pack lunch for the next day. My fave snack is homemade baked veggie crisps.” — Hannah Hands, Dallas
“I keep almonds or something like that in the console of my car in case I need a snack so I don’t run through a drive-thru. Also, just generally speaking, I’d say planning ahead is a must!” — Taylor Wells, Dallas
“When I am in a hurry I grab my protein bar, a piece of fruit and shakes in the morning. Also prepping something for the week on Sunday helps for quick grabs – things like hard boiled eggs, ripped up lettuce and cut veggies for salads, cut up fruit, etc. And of course always have my water with me!” — Rachael Shaw, Dallas
In addition to paying attention to what you pack for yourself, paying attention to your meal can also help you eat better, Ashley Bixel, registered dietitian on the clinical staff at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Alliance, said.
“When people really focus on their meal — the aroma, the texture, the taste — they feel more satisfied as they eat,” Bixel said. “When people aren’t tuned in to what they’re eating, they may eat more quickly, which can lead to overeating. Nutrition counseling can help people establish more mindful eating habits.”
Bixel also recommends sticking to set mealtimes, since skipping meals during the day can lead to overeating at night. Setting times to eat throughout the day and preparing healthy options like fresh fruit, whole-grain granola bars or low-fat string cheese can help you avoid unhealthy treats.
Dallas mom Amanda Johnson runs two popular Facebook groups dedicated to healthy eating: “What’s for Dinner? Healthy Inspirations” and “What’s for Lunch, Mom? Healthy Inspirations.” Her day is full of good, healthy food choices, she said, and it’s become a routine. Breakfast is usually lemon water, coffee and a homemade protein shake.
“I drink 32 ounces of water before lunch,” Johnson said. “Lunch is a big, dark green salad with protein (hard boiled eggs, salmon or chicken) and a small portion of grains.
“The salad comes from one of a couple of salad restaurants or I hit the salad bars at Central Market or Whole Foods. I also mix leftovers from my fridge with greens, which are always on hand for shakes and to feed the [pet] tortoise.”
While the adults in her family eat a Paleo diet at dinner, a diet that consists largely of fish, meat, vegetables and fruit, which are believed to be the types of foods eaten by early humans, Johnson said she throws in some good carbs for the kids. And the heavy lifting for dinner doesn’t always fall on her shoulders, either. Her family utilizes dinner kit delivery services to make prep and shopping easy.
“I love Green Chef Paleo, and that feeds us three times per week,” Johnson said. The Green Chef is a meal delivery service that brings the ingredients for healthy meals to the family’s doorstep.
Johnson said she keeps her freezer and pantry full of whole-grain breads, brown rice and other complex carbs to add to dinners and lunches for her kids.
The other days, Johnson said, are quick dinners that usually use a sheet pan in the oven or a grill meal, “because I hate to clean!”
And yes, she does indulge in the occasional treat — usually dark chocolate.
“Buying it in small squares helps me from eating a whole bar,” Johnson said.
But as with most of the moms who provided tips, Johnson said that preparation is key.
“I think having a plan and knowing what healthy things you are going to eat is key,” Johnson said. “If you don’t have a plan, you are going to get really hungry and drive to a fast food joint out of desperation or cave to the office sweets. I have almonds and cashews stashed everywhere!”
The other benefit to making healthy choices, Johnson said, is the example you set for your children.
“I think an important aspect of this is that you aren’t just feeding you, you are setting a great example. I talk to my 6-year-old son about the fact that to fuel our bodies, we have to make healthy choices,” Johnson said. “I have let him buy his lunch twice per week this year, and I am so impressed with the great choices he makes and the fact that he can tell me what each part of his meal is for.”
“If you feed your children really well, but live off coffee and Starbucks scones, they will make those choices as well.”
To find a qualified dietitian, call 1-877-THR-WELL.