By Meghan Vivo
We all crave balance in our lives, but most of us struggle to learn the tricks of the trade.
Think of it in terms of the ancient art of juggling: mastered by few, but attempted by many. But you're not just juggling balls - you're attending to the spouse who needs your time and attention; the rambunctious children who need help with all the day's activities; and the demanding job with real-world responsibilities.
Where does your health fit in? For far too many of us, it's that one ball we haven't tossed into the air yet. Take heart - you can balance your busy schedule with healthy eating by learning to make quick and nutritious food choices, both at home and on-the-go.
There's no question that the best way to eat fresh, nourishing foods is to cook your own meals at home. That way, you control the ingredients and the way foods are prepared. That's particularly important because it lets you avoid heavily processed foods high in unhealthy trans fats, hydrogenated oils and other additives, which are staples of most fast food and packaged products. Unfortunately, the last thing most people want to do at the end of a busy day is slave over a stove creating a gourmet masterpiece. The good news is, there are a number of ways to make tasty and nourishing meals in less than 20 minutes, if you learn to fully utilize your kitchen.
Healthy eating starts during your weekly grocery shopping trip. When you shop hungry, the chocolate cake and ready-to-eat fried chicken practically leap into your cart. Your diet for the week is bound to fail with nothing but "treats" in the fridge. To prevent impulse buying, eat before you go grocery shopping and keep a running list throughout the week of the items you need. That way, you'll avoid scanning the aisles for random items - things you might not need, but crave at the time. Also, remember that a meal can consist of fruit and cottage cheese, whole-grain cereal, tuna on whole wheat, or any other combination of light, nutritious foods. You don't have to slave for hours or plan three full courses to call it a meal.