Dietitian Tips to Pack Nutrition into Your Busy Schedule

Dietitian Tips to Pack Nutrition into Your Busy Schedule

Dec 20, 2023Tori Sajovec, RD, LD

In today's fast-paced world, busy schedules are often one of the most significant barriers to choosing foods that fit our nutrition goals. Whether you're a busy professional, a worker with long hours, a student or a parent, it's easy to fall into the trap of grabbing fast food on the go or skipping meals altogether. It can be challenging to make healthy food decisions when stressed or overwhelmed. The brain can only problem-solve so many things at one time, which is why we're more likely to give in to the craving for fast food, something sweet, or caffeine when the pressure and stress build up.  


In the moment, it may feel like a caffeinated beverage or something sweet will give you quick energy, but these quick fixes won't provide you with lasting energy for the long day ahead. You might feel an immediate buzz, but it often results in an energy crash soon after. Instead, follow these dietitian tips to pack long-lasting energy and nutrition into your busy schedule!  


Ensure you get lasting energy from your meals and snacks by incorporating fiber, protein, healthy fats, carbohydrates and plenty of hydration. This combination will prevent the energy crash. Follow these tips to feel a steady energy all day long! 


  1. Start your day with a protein-rich breakfast rather than a sweet one. 

Research shows a tremendous benefit to starting your day with adequate protein rather than high levels of sugar. When you're on the go, reach for a breakfast sandwich, Greek yogurt with nuts, a protein shake or portioned leftovers containing meat or beans and vegetables. These options will set the tone for your energy levels for the entire day. 


  1. Invest in a high-quality insulated lunch bag and ice packs for proper food safety.

Investing in a quality insulated lunch bag and ice packs is essential for keeping your food fresh and chilled throughout the day. It's also an eco-friendly option that can save you money in the long run. Choose a large lunch bag that fits all the meals and snacks you need to get you through your entire shift. Work will fly by as you look forward to enjoying the food you packed. 


  1. Fill your lunch bag with nutrient-dense foods that provide fiber, protein, fats and carbohydrates. 

When packing your lunch bag, include a variety of nutrient-dense foods that provide a winning combination of fiber, protein, fats and carbohydrates. This combination ensures your body gets the nutrients it needs to function at its best and will keep you full and satisfied throughout the day. When you're on the go, it's essential to have healthy items on hand to keep you fueled. Pack portable snacks like raw vegetables, single-serve packs of nuts, balanced bars and whole pieces of fruit. Here are ideas for each nutrient category to create balanced meals and snacks:  

Fiber: Vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, beans and lentils and whole grains  

Protein: Meat, fish, eggs, plant-based protein alternatives, nuts and seeds, beans and lentils, cheese, Greek yogurt, protein bars, and protein shakes 

Fats: Nuts and seeds, cheese and other whole-milk dairy products, avocado, mayonnaise, and foods cooked in oil or an oil-and-vinegar salad dressing 

Carbohydrates: Fruits, whole grains, vegetables, milk, and yogurt 


Examples of balanced meal ideas: 

  • Salad with beans, sunflower seeds, walnuts, shredded cheese, cherry tomatoes, pepper strips, salmon, oil-and-vinegar salad dressing using Chosen Food Avocado Oil, yogurt, berries 
  • Pepper strips with dip, high-fiber wrap with turkey, cheese, spinach and mayo, an orange 
  • Carrots with hummus, chicken and brown rice bowl with guacamole, an apple 


Examples of balanced snack ideas: 

  • Handful of almonds and strawberries 
  • Celery and peanut butter 
  • Hard-boiled egg and whole-grain crackers with cheese 


  1. Move for a few minutes after meals and get some time outdoors.

When you can, move for a few minutes after meals. Moving allows your muscles to utilize some of the sugar in your blood from your meal, which helps prevent the after-meal energy crash. Stand up to stretch, take a quick walk outdoors to get some fresh air or take time for a more active work task after eating. This tip can be especially helpful for workers who must sit for long periods. A short break to stretch out the body can be refreshing both physically and mentally on those extra-long days. 


  1. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. 

It can be tempting to reach for sugar-sweetened or caffeinated beverages, especially when you're on the go. However, these don't take the place of water. Staying adequately hydrated is essential for optimal performance and for feeling your best. Bring a refillable water bottle wherever you go and drink plenty of water throughout the day to avoid dehydration. Staying hydrated is vital when heading into the warmer months. 


Proper planning and preparation can help you incorporate a balanced diet into your busy schedule. Following these tips ensures you're fueling your body with the nutrients you need to function at your best. Don't let a busy schedule hinder your health goals and your desired energy level. 


Connect with your local Hy-Vee dietitian on our virtual nutrition services platform and schedule a complimentary Discovery Session to learn more. Hy-Vee dietitians offer various services to help you meet your weight loss and nutrition goals, including one-on-one consultation packages, personalized menu plan programs, virtual nutrition store tours and more. 


The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice. 

About the Registered Dietitian 
Tori Sajovec RD, LD, received her Bachelor of Science degree in dietetics with a minor in English from Iowa State University. From there, her passions took her to New Orleans, Louisiana, where she completed her 10-month dietetic internship program through Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. As her knowledge of food and nutrition grew, so did her desire to educate customers and clients on their overall well-being. Her goal as a dietitian is to make health and wellness an insightful and enjoyable lifestyle for all.

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