By Dara Godfrey, MS, RD
New Yorkers are known for living a fast-paced life. Juggling work and a fun social life can be daunting. Add traveling, dating, marriage, and/or kids to the list, and life can seem super stressful and chaotic. How can one create the balance of living a healthy lifestyle with such a hectic schedule?!
One of the most common threads that I’ve noticed when counseling my patients is a propensity to order-in and eat out. Whether we’re lazy, exhausted from a long day at work, or simply hate cooking (or perhaps don’t have much of a kitchen!), it has become easier than ever to get good food, fast. I am not alone in reveling in the idea that I can have gourmet food at my door step/office in a matter of minutes! Many professionals often mention to me that part of their job description entails frequent meals out entertaining clients or helping build team morale.
Although I always encourage my patients to try and make simple and easy meals at home a few times a week, I am realistic in the notion that it’s not always going to happen. The good news is that there ARE some basic steps that can be taken to help you lead a healthy and balanced life amid all of the chaos.
1. NO EXCUSES: MAKE HEALTHY EATING/EXERCISE A PRIORITY
It is so much easier to say, “My life is so stressful, I can’t even think about what I’m eating,” then to say “I need to take action NOW towards my overall health and well-being.” There is never a better time to start taking care of yourself than in the present moment. Make your health a priority.
2. ORGANIZATION IS KEY
I always tell my patients, the most successful people are those who plan ahead. Having some sense of WHEN you will be eating your meals and WHERE you will be eating, can help you prepare yourself for WHAT you will choose to eat. It will also help maintain a steady stream of energy, and hopefully satisfaction, throughout the day. Here are some more organization tips:
- Take some time the night before to think about your day ahead, what and where you can pick up some well-rounded meals if you don’t have time to prepare them at home.
- Set a calendar reminder to order Fresh Direct on the weekend and plan your meals (and snacks) for the week on Sunday. It shouldn’t take you more than 10 minutes.
- Put a sticky note on your purse/bag to remind you to take your lunch or snacks that are in your fridge before you leave for the day
- Pre-portion snacks for the week in a snack-pack Ziploc bag
- Look at menus online and plan what you will order at a restaurant
And please try and make sure to stick with your planning for at least 30 days to help make it become a habit.
3. ORDER IN & GO TO RESTAURANTS THAT YOU KNOW
It is always a good idea to have a couple of ‘go-to’ places and recurring Seamless Web restaurants that you know have food options that are both healthy and satisfying to you. These are the places you feel comfortable ordering the same few things every single time. You are more likely to stick to eating cleaner when you know there are good options available.
4. FOCUS ON A FEW KEY THINGS WHEN EATING OUT
- Drink two glasses of water as soon as you sit down to a meal. You are much more likely to eat less at that meal.
- If you must drink alcohol, choose between vodka, tequila, and wine. Go for the one that you know you can drink less quickly. A lot of my patients can down glass after glass of rosé, but a vodka on the rocks often needs to be nursed.
- Pick your poison (if you must!). Choose between bread, alcohol, or a dessert. Make the rest of your meal filled with lots of vegetables and lean protein.
5. CUT YOURSELF SOME SLACK
I do believe in progression, NOT in perfection. Balance is about finding that happy medium between living a very structured life and living in the moment.
Instead of focusing on what you are doing wrong, think about the ways you can change those negative habits. It takes approximately 30 days for something to stay with you, so try and set a goal that you can maintain for a month. Make it small, attainable, and not too stressful to your normal routine. And believe in yourself that you can do it!
6. GET A BUDDY WHO’S A HEALTHY INFLUENCE ON YOU FOR SUPPORT/ENCOURAGEMENT
Having a partner-in-crime can help you manage some difficult situations. Someone to bounce ideas off of and someone to keep you motivated and on track is key for success.
7. GET SOME GUIDANCE FROM AN EXPERT
No matter what, we could all use some specific health advice as it pertains to our day-to-day life. Having an objective counselor guide us in the right direction, providing us with support and some words of encouragement, can be very useful in life-long compliance. I get the greatest pleasure in knowing that I’ve helped create balance and happiness in my patients’ hectic lives!
You CAN find that happy medium between the complexities of life and the importance of self-care.
And be sure to check out Dara's bright, shiny new site at www.daragodfreynutrition.com
Dara Godfrey, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian who works in private practice in Manhattan. As an expert in nutrition, she customizes eating plans to help empower her patients to make positive food choices. Dara’s lifestyle-driven approach has encouraged individuals to understand what is realistic and has provided them with a flexible set of tools to achieve sustainable goals of health and happiness. Dara is also the dietitian at Reproductive Medicine Associates (RMA) of New York, a fertility clinic, where she supports patients’ nutritional goals at every stage of infertility treatment and pregnancy, including pre-treatment health and weight loss, prenatal nutrition, and pregnancy nutrition during each trimester.
Dara, a Toronto, Canada native, graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Food & Nutrition at The University of Western Ontario and obtained her RD and Masters in Nutrition at New York University. Dara spent several years at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan where she led a Weight Management Support Group, and was involved in counseling patients in such specialties as prenatal, bariatric, and gastrointestinal nutrition. Dara is not only a blog contributor for Body By Simone and RMA of New York, but has also been featured in videos on such sites as Fertility Authority and CafeMom. She has also contributed to articles in The Daily News, Self magazine, Cosmopolitan magazine, HERS magazine, and blogs such as Fitness NYC and The Sweat Life.
When not working, she can be seen working out at Modelfit and SLT, as well as trying the newest restaurants around New York. She lives in Manhattan with her husband, Jay, and two daughters, Allegra & Bardot.