The facts

  • We are getting busier and living at a faster pace every year. Being rushed means we may not always eat as well as we could.
  • Skipping meals, eating erratically, and being stressed can lower your resistance to colds and flu.
  • Approximately 40% of Canadians skip breakfast, increasing their risk for morning fatigue.
  • People shop once a week and use the same 10 recipes and meals over and over. Unmarried men and women spend only 18 and 24 minutes daily cooking.
  • Over 65% of women get the weekday dinner on the table in less than 45 minutes, 48% plan dinners the same day, and 10% of women plan meals at the last minute.

The fix

Choose healthy convenience foods
For people with hectic lifestyles, convenience foods can help ensure a nutritious diet. For quick yet nutritious meals try:

  • pre-made salads
  • canned beans
  • bean spreads like hummus
  • cooked roasted chickens (don't eat the skin)
  • flavoured tortilla wraps

Try healthier snacks
If a meal is skipped, then snacks become important. Good snacks include:

  • yogurt, fruit, or dried fruit
  • cold vegetarian pizza
  • cold V-8
  • cereal straight from the box
  • milk - even chocolate milk is okay
  • crackers with peanut butter or cheese

Select healthier foods at restaurants
Often, being rushed means ordering fast food or restaurant meals. Choose healthy items such as:

  • baked potatoes with chili
  • grilled chicken burgers
  • grilled chicken salads
  • fruit plates with whole wheat rolls
  • vegetarian pizza
  • ask for dressings, butter, and mayonnaise on the side
  • drink milk instead of pop or coffee

Get your iron and vitamin C
Women in particular need to make sure they get enough iron. A lack of iron can cause you to feel tired. The best and most easily absorbed source of iron is lean red meat. Other examples include:

  • enriched cereals (i.e., cream of wheat)
  • beans
  • peas
  • dried fruit
  • dark leafy vegetables

Iron rich foods are best eaten with a vitamin C rich food because the vitamin C helps iron to be absorbed. Try:

  • orange juice
  • strawberries
  • kiwis

Keep hydrated
Rushing and being busy can increase the need for fluid. Being dehydrated can make you feel tired. Aim for 6 to 8 cups of fluid a day. Try:

  • herbal tea
  • water
  • juice
  • broth type soups

Limit your caffeine intake. Try to drink only 2 cups of coffee a day!

Mealtime tips:

  • avoid skipping meals
  • be adventurous!
  • try at least one new recipe each week
  • think of cooking your meals as an event, not a race

Other helpful hints:

  • Try cookbooks that offer smart suggestions for quick, healthy meals that most family members can prepare or begin to prepare.
  • Produce delivery companies can provide a variety of fruits and vegetables right to your door each week. That means one less shopping trip for the busy person.
Ingrid Verduyn, RDN 
with updates by the MediResource Clinical Team