12 Health Hacks for Busy People
The hustle and bustle of living in NYC can take a toll on your health. We work long hours, eat on the run, are stressed to the max, and live in the city that never sleeps! This leads to poor energy levels in the short term and increased risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, obesity, heart disease and cancer in the long term. But with our hectic schedules, who has time to think about what we can do to change this? As a registered dietitian in NYC with over 20 years’ experience, I’ve listened to thousands of “stories” from my clients. While everyone is unique, there are commonalities in the lifestyles of many New Yorkers. I’ve put together my top 12 health hacks for busy people.
12 Health Hacks for Busy People
- Buy vegetables pre-washed and cut or frozen. 84% of Americans don’t meet the recommendations of 4 servings or 2 cups/day. Vegetables provide essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and fiber to aid in weight management and gut health and to help fight chronic diseases, including cancer, stroke and perhaps other cardiovascular diseases. But how many times have you bought veggies only to have them turn to slime in the fridge? Take advantage of frozen or pre-washed, chopped and spiralized veggies in supermarkets. And even easier – buy frozen. I’m obsesssed with frozen cauliflower rice. When eating out, try adding more veggies to salads, sandwiches and grain bowls and snacks. My health hack Here are 22 ways to increase your intake of vegetables.
- Find healthy lunch choices near your workplace. Lunches on the run are often loaded with calories, carbs and/or sodium. The good news is that there are numerous healthy options including salads, sandwiches, sandwich/soup combos, and bowls. Take advantage of the online nutritional content listed for many of these lunch spots and plan about 5 healthy choices near your office or home. Read my previous post on 125 Healthy Lunches on the Run
- Get more sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average adult sleeps 5-6 hrs a night and the goal is 7-8 hours. Inadequate sleep can increase risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, mood disorders, suppress the immune system, may accelerate aging of brain and negatively impact memory and cognitive performance. So make it a priority to get those zzzz’s! Turn off electronics at least an hour before bed and read.
- Plan healthy snacks. Whether you raid the vending machine at work or the kitchen at night, planning healthy snacks is key in helping you stay on track. Some of my favorite snacks include: nuts, fruit, string cheese or baby bel cheese, healthy jerky, nut butter on an apple or whole grain cracker, hummus or guacamole with veggies. Read my previous post on Heart Healthy Snacks, Snacks at CVS, Low Carb Snacks
- Find healthy take out options for dinner. Most New Yorkers don’t spend a lot of time in the kitchen! So instead of dialing for Chinese or pizza, find a few healthy options in your neighborhood. Good choices include: Japanese (edemame, sushi, sashimi), Turkish (kabobs, chopped salads, grilled vegetables, and moderate portion of rice, brown if possible), Chinese (steamed protein + vegetables with brown rice, sauce on the side … boring but healthy!), and Rotisserie chicken with vegetables and baked potato) Get my FREE download – Healthy Take Out Meals for 550 Calories or Less
- Order a meal delivery service. Now I’m not talking getting a pizza delivered! But rather a meal kit that you assemble and cook or meal that is already cooked and ready to pop in the microwave or oven. Because the reality is that after a long day, not many of us have the time or energy to slice, dice and prepare a meal. Stay tuned to an upcoming blog post on Healthy Meal Delivery Services!
- Booze control. Whether it’s meeting friends for drinks, having beers while watching the game or unwinding with a glass of wine, alcohol is a common denominator for many New Yorkers. While alcohol in moderation may have health benefits, too much of it will interfere with your sleep, and impact your weight and overall health.
- Sit less or break up sitting time. No matter how much you exercise, sitting for excessively long periods of time is a risk factor for early death, a study published in Annals of Internal Medicine found. Statistics say the average adult sits over 8 hours a day – but in my experience it’s a lot more than this! The recommendation is to get up and move every 30 minutes. Take calls while standing, walk in place during tv commercials, consider a standing desk, or set your watch to remind you to get up and move.
- Find ways to alleviate stress. Living in NYC and stress go hand in hand. Finances, job pressures, family and the constant noise are just a few causes. Stress takes a toll on our sleep, drinking and eating habits, and physical and mental health. Find ways to deal with stress including yoga, mediation (try an app), listening to music, exercising, reading and scheduling more “me” time.
- Eat breakfast at home or pack it to bring to work. Most breakfast on the run choices are loaded with carbs and calories. Studies have shown that a high protein breakfast can help control cravings later in the day. Some healthy choices include: eggs, nut butter on whole grain toast, plain Greek yogurt with chia seeds + berries, and overnight oats.
- Try high intensity interval training (HIIT). When all you have is 30 minutes to work out, make it count! Maximize your workouts in less time. HIIT workouts alternate periods of short intense anaerobic activity and rest to effectively burn fat, build muscle, and increase your endurance so when time is short, squeeze this is the workout to do. Plus HIIT doesn’t require any equipment so you can get in your workout on anywhere. My fav is jump roping. Read the Best Workout to Shed Weight: HIIT
- Try intermittent fasting – or time restricted eating. Research is suggesting that limiting the number of hours you eat in a day may have numerous health benefits. While there several types of intermittent fasting, I find the easiest one to start with is to try to eat within a 12 hour window. For example, breakfast at 8 am and dinner (or last snack) by 8 pm! Once you’ve mastered that, aim to eat within a 10 or 8 hour window. Read my previous post on why you should restrict the time your eat.
- Write a weekly goal list.(I snuck in an extra tip here!) It’s not easy to make changes in your diet or lifestyle, but it can be done. Pick 1-3 goals to work on each week. The trick will be to analyze your current work/life/eating situation and come up with a plan. We problem solve in many other areas in our lives – why not this one!
Start with just 1-2 tips. Initially, it may seem like an extra effort, but with consistency and practice, these hacks will soon turn into habits. You’ll feel more energized, have less stress and be better able to tackle your hectic life!
Need help with setting up a healthy nutrition and lifestyle plan for 2018?
I specialize in helping busy people get healthy! Call or email me to find out how I can help.
I especially love problem-solving, whether it’s helping women defeat issues plaguing them for years, helping a busy executive find practical ways to get heart healthy, or providing tips to help you reverse diabetes. That’s why I’m on a constant quest to expand my knowledge by staying on top of the latest research.