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Five ways to include nutrition in your busy schedule

Having nutritious meals everyday doesn't have to feel like chore. A chef shares five simple ways you can eat healthy while running on a tight schedule

Carrots and cucumbers with hummus is an easy snack to enjoy.
Carrots and cucumbers with hummus is an easy snack to enjoy. (Pixabay)

In the fast-paced whirlwind of modern life, nutrition can often take a backseat when it comes to food. A quick and easy meal is preferred to anything that takes more than five minutes. However, there is plenty of research on why maintaining a healthy diet is crucial for overall well-being and quality of life, something that all parents have been shouting from rooftops forever. While prioritising nutrition in a packed schedule might seem like an insurmountable challenge, a little creativity and strategy can take you a long way.

"Meeting our daily nutritional requirements is important to ensure we have the energy to do things on our schedule. A good diet needs good planning," says Satendra Negi, executive chef at Organic Roots, who has about 18 years of experience in the field. Organic Roots creates ready-to-eat food  rooted in traditional recipes and adapted to contemporary lifestyles. 

Also read: Astaxanthin: The carotenoid you should know

Negi talks to Lounge about five simple ways nutrition can be included in daily meals, even when the schedule is hectic.

Plan your meals

The secret weapon against the omnipresent fast food and unhealthy convenience meals is meal prepping. Dedicate a few hours each week to plan and prepare your meals. Once you know what your next meal is going to be, it's easier to switch to healthier homemade food. "When you plan your week, include meals in it. On weekends, you can chop your vegetables and prepare sauces. Then, during the week, the cooking will take just a few minutes of your time," Negi says.

Moreover, when you have time to think about the meals, it's easier to ensure you are including proteins, carbs, and fats, among others, in the right amount.

On-the-go goodness

Snacking doesn't have to be only about munching on chips or chocolates. Instead, carry nutrient-rich snacks such as fresh fruits, nuts, groundnut chikki (bars made with jaggery and groundnut), or homemade energy bars. These will help you satisfy your cravings and make you feel energised. "When you are travelling – for short or long distances, for work or vacation, carry healthy snacks such as nuts to eat. Eating unhealthy crisps and other foods won't do any good for the body. Instead, they could make you feel tired," says Negi.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

Although often overlooked, hydration is important when talking about good nutrition. Carry a refillable water bottle to drink throughout the day. If you tend to forget, keep reminders on your smartwatch to make sure you are drinking enough water. To make it more fun and refreshing, infuse it with a slice of lemon, mint leaves and cucumber. Proper hydration is important to maintain good energy levels and supports overall well-being.

"Drinking enough water is important for your body to absorb the nutrients. Make sure you are meeting your hydration goals every day," Negi advices.

Focus on breakfast

There is an age-old debate about whether or not it can be skipped, specifically when following a diet plan. Negi has a strong stance and emphasises that breakfast is important and must be rich in proteins. "I wouldn't advise anyone to skip breakfast. Instead, make sure it's a healthy one, packed with proteins to power you throughout the day. Some easy protein sources are eggs, which are also easy to make," he says. Adding a bunch of pre-cut vegetables into the mix can make it more wholesome.

Fuelling your body in the morning sets the tone for the entire day. So, think of what food brings you joy and eat that but make sure to add some proteins and good carbs to the mix.

Choose healthy instant meals

Sometimes, no matter how much you plan, life takes over. For instance, when stuck between meetings, you might not have the energy to cook or time to order. Ready-to-eat meals can seem like a saviour. But it's important to check the list of ingredients to make sure that you are not eating preservative-packed unhealthy meals. 

"Ready-to-eat meals are often thought of as unhealthy, but it is possible to choose those that are mindfully made with no chemicals," says Negi.

Also read: Life lessons from a yoga practice

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