Put Nutrition on Your To Do List
I was inspired by Danielle’s recent article “The Frugal Career Girl: Fit Into Your Clothes While Fitting Into Your Budget!” Her ideas are the kinds of things I try to do to be fit without breaking my budget. Plus, I’m a skeptic, so I steer clear of the latest fads, based on junk science, trying to sell the quickest, easiest thing to get you temporary (and often expensive, impossible) results. Healthy habits are not a secret nor a complex science, and you need to have them your whole life—not just for bikini season.
To complement Danielle’s list of fun and free ways to get moving, I thought I’d put together some of my tips for inexpensive and healthy food habits:
Always be prepared. This is the best advice I’ve ever received (along with my dad’s mantra: “No matter what happens, don’t freak out”) and it applies to everything. I carry almonds, have cans of tuna and low sodium soup in my desk, and an emergency stash of dark chocolate. Being overly hungry is the worst, and it’s the reason why you might opt for a bag of chips, an expensive lunch out, or nothing at all. If you make sure to pick up a few nutritious, low-cost items at the grocery store and keep them in your bag, desk, and car, you’ll never get the grumpies or make a poor food choice because you’ve got nothing to eat. Stumped for what to pick up? Check out this list.
Pack your lunch. Eating out is expensive. It may not seem like a wrap or sushi roll would break the bank, but when you’re shelling out ten bucks per meal, they add up quickly, and you don’t always know what’s in your meal. I’ve worked hard to get into the habit of packing a lunch every day. It’s easy when you have yummy recipes and a good shopping list, providing you with healthy options for the week. Start with reading blogs from foodies and other budget-conscious Career Girls. Check sources like Poor Girl Eats Well or Foodista. My next lunch adventure? Salad in a jar. Are you forgetful in the morning? Don’t leave in a hurry and forget your lunch. Wake up a few minutes earlier to gather what you need, or do it the night before—clip your keys to your lunch bag if you have to! Just don’t lock yourself out.
Make water your first choice. Water is free! The health benefits of water are numerous, and drinking enough water helps you beat cravings for sodas or other less-healthy beverages. Plus, I only half-fill my water bottle so that I can take a few more short walks around the halls in my office to stretch and give my eyes a rest for a minute. Multitasking! If it helps to get you in the habit of drinking plenty of water, make up some fruity ice cubes, slice a few lemon wedges, or keep a pitcher of something healthy like green tea in the office fridge. Yum!
Suggest healthy restaurants. I can think of plenty of times when I invited business contacts out for lunch and had full control over where we went. Look at menus or ask your food-savvy colleagues for suggestions. While you’re looking, pick one or two things when you’re not hungry and stick to those choices. When I’m really hungry, it’s tempting to to order ribs, but if I told myself ahead of time that I’m going to have grilled chicken, I’ll stick to it and it will still be delicious.
Making healthy choices isn’t always a cakewalk (zing!), but if you are prepared, think ahead, and approach health as a lifelong commitment to making mostly good choices, you’ll do well. Remember: don’t freak out if you have a lazy day or eat cake for breakfast. Since this is a permanent lifestyle and not a temporary endeavor, it means that you don’t need to give up completely any time that you indulge—just see if you can reduce the instances of cake for breakfast and increase days when you make mostly good choices.