Lack Time or Energy? Try Optimizing Your Diet

Updated: August 27, 2012

Andy Fiedler

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This is post is by Andy Fiedler.

With all of the demands on our time: work, friends, and working on whatever expertise we want to cultivate, a healthy diet can often take a back seat. I think this is a huge mistake!

Good, healthy food gives us the consistent energy we need to maintain our mental focus. Without it, we are needlessly increasing our stress levels and diminishing our abilities to excel at whatever it is we are passionate about.

The problem, however, is that eating healthy can be time consuming and can take tremendous willpower, both of which can be in short supply if you are a busy person. Many times the last thing you want to be doing is cooking a meal and cleaning dishes.

Picking up some take-out probably seems a lot more appealing, even if you know that in the long run it will harm you and prevent you from performing at your best.

After struggling with this same problem, I’ve developed a system to eating healthy without taking up too much time or money.

Be Repetitive

I eat pretty much the same things over and over again during the week. As long as you spend a little bit of time up front picking meals that are well-balanced and healthy, there’s no need to devote mental energy to making a new gourmet meal each day.

We all have a limited amount of decision making ability, so don’t waste it deciding if you should have an omelet or oatmeal in the morning!

Design one breakfast and a few (2-3) different dinners that fit whatever diet plan you are following and eat them consistently. This alone will save you a ton of time, and I doubt that you’ll miss the variety too much.

Plan Your Food Shopping

Pick one or two days to plan out your food shopping. Spend 10 minutes making a shopping list before you head to the store.

Since you are eating the same meals most days, you can reuse this shopping list from week to week.

Making a list saves you a ton of time in the store because you don’t need to make decisions as you roam the aisles. It will also save you money, because you’ll be less tempted to pick up food you didn’t intend to buy.

Learn to Make Smoothies

If you exercise or need quick nutrition throughout the day, buy a personal sized blender (such as a Magic Bullet or similar product) and learn to make smoothies. They are a quick way to get a great boost in nutrition.

One recipe to get you started is frozen berries (usually found near the frozen vegetables in the grocery store), whey protein powder, and almond milk. This tastes delicious and takes less than 5 minutes to make. (Check our this EE post on juice cleanses.)

Make Parts of Your Meals in Bulk

After you finish grocery shopping, spend a few minutes making some staples in bulk.

Cook some beans or rice and store it in the fridge; those things go well with most dinners. Dice an onion and take a dozen slices of deli ham or turkey and cube them. Put the cubed cold cuts and onion in a container and use them plus frozen broccoli florets for a great tasting, fast omelet in the mornings.

Doing this will save you time when you make a more complex meal.

Change it up a Few Nights a Week

Don’t take this advice to mean that you should never indulge! Spend a few nights a week making something from a recipe or eating out. Good meals, especially with friends, are one of life’s pleasures.

Consciously take some time to enjoy it, and use these tips to optimize your diet for times that you want to be productive in other parts of your life.

How do you alter your eating habits when you short on time? How could you better plan your meals when your life gets too busy?


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