When our lifestyles demand more from us than normal- when we have a stretch of overstressed, anxious, or demanding work ahead of us, it is never so important (or challenging) to keep ourselves well nourished.
For me, during these times, I keep my home stocked and ready with single-handed or 3 minute meal ingredients. I make the preparation priority and if I can not find time to prepare these myself I pay extra for them to come prepared.
When I reflected on what went wrong last time, I came up with some guidelines to help me create a plan that would work.
1. I needed to have all the macronutrients met: Healthy Fats, Whole Food Carbohydrates, and enough Protein.
2. Fiber rich foods were emphasized.
3. I needed warm and cold meal options.
4. Iron rich foods every day.
5. Super hydration was necessary.
6. I had to be able to eat most of these foods while holding a babe in one arm.
7. If I had any time to prepare something, it was under 3 minutes.
8. I needed simple effective ways to keep my stress levels managed.
Here are the food ideas and tips that have been working:
Single Handed Foods
These are foods or meals that I could literally eat with one hand, while bouncing a babe in the other.
- Vegetable crudite plate.
Basically washed, peeled, cut up vegetables on a plate and ready for me to grab throughout the day.
This is a staple in the plan. I do my best to make a large plate every other day or so and keep it in the fridge or counter during the day so I can keep crunching along.
If you can’t do the prep yourself, I honestly think it would be worth the cost to buy a premade veggie platter at the store.
- Trail mix
I used to make my own trail mixes, but right now I’m happy to buy ready made ones from our local Trader Joes. Mine have seeds, nuts and dried fruits– but also some kind of sweet treat- either carob raisins or chocolate chips in there too. I normally pour out a healthy bowl of this in the morning and have it on the counter as well.
- Hard boiled eggs
- Roasted veggies
I like to eat my roasted veggies cold as well as warm. Favorites are carrots, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and beets. To roast, put in shallow pan, toss olive oil and sea salt. Bake at 350* for about an hour or until soft.
- Breakfast cookies
You know the kind that are full of healthy grains, dried fruits, shredded carrots and nuts.
- Rice Cooker
Rice cookers will cook your grains (doesn’t have to be rice) and some will even steam veggies in a top compartment as well. Then they will keep the grains warm. I love scooping up big spoons of warm brown rice or quinoa during the day. Yes, just plain old rice. It’s subtly sweet, warm and chewy. Very satisfying.
- Crockpot stews and soups
I don’t want to gross anyone out, but I unapologetically dip a spoon into my crock pot throughout the day for a quick bite here and there.
I put the meal together to cook overnight, and in the morning it is done and stays warm throughout the day so I can have a ready made, hot meal available– even with one hand.
- Healthy bars
My favorites are Lara Bars, KIND bars and Odwalla bars.
- Fresh Fruits
My kids go through a lot of fresh fruits and sliced veggies anyway with every meal and for snacks. I do my best to snack along with them on these too.
3 Minute Prep Meals
There are times now that I can put together a quick meal for myself. I try to keep the ingredients for these meals on hand. Not everyday, mind you, but sometimes I can swing the following:
- Ezekiel bread toasted with cream cheese and fruit jam.
- Ezekiel bread toasted with avocado and garlic salt.
- Smoothie. I really try to do this every day. I keep it simple. Frozen berries, green juice and a few leaves of kale. It supercharges me. I plan to get some coconut kefir to add soon.
- Pita with hummus
- Hot air popcorn
- Peanut butter and Jelly sandwiches
- Reheat some pureed vegetable soups (these need to be premade so it depends if I got to that over the weekend)
- Grilled cheese
- Chips with salsa and cultured vegetables
- Set out 8 glasses every evening. Seeing the water glasses full and on the counter is one of the best ways for me to keep drinking all day
- I drink at least one glass of water after every nursing.
- I drink 1-2 glasses with my vitamin supplements.
Thoughts on Rest
In the first two weeks after the birth, I literally slept when my babe did. I had help almost every day during that time, so if the baby slept, someone was there to be with my two toddlers.
Now, I can’t always sleep when he sleeps. It could be that my other children are still awake or my mind and body simply can’t turn off like a switch during the day any longer.
I had an all or nothing perspective on this before and it led me to overwork myself if I thought I couldn’t sleep.
Now when I find pockets of down time in the day I choose to REST my body. This means I will lay or sit down. Perhaps take a glass of water and cup of tea.
And lately I’ve been practicing deep breathing. Even 5 minutes of deep breathing rejuvenates me– my body and mind gets oxygentaed, I’ve turned on my calm response and mitigated stress. Let me tell you I’ll be doing these short bits of deep breathing throughout the day for a long time– I love them.
My Food Mindset
I wanted to add that in no way am I restricting what I eat. If someone brings over a yummy treat or I feel like diving into some chips, (or just have a hankering for homemade chocolate chip cookies) I go for it.
I don’t think of this as a diet. More than anything I just think of this as fueling my body well. I do my best to keep putting in the good stuff. When I crave something, I eat it.
So that’s been the plan so far and it’s working wonders. It also makes me realize how incredibly essential it is to make healthy, yummy good for you foods CONVENIENT. It is the key, really, because all the crap food that makes you feel lethargic and down have one thing going for them–convenience– and they’ll win on that alone in the end. Especially when we are pressed for time and life is more demanding than usual!
How do you stay healthy and strong when life becomes more demanding than usual?
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