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Is Your Life Changing? Your Healthy Eating Plan Doesn’t Have To

Salad in glass storage jars. Four in a neat row.

The change of seasons always feels like a good time to reflect and renew any wellness goals, doesn’t it? But it can also mean a shift in your daily routine.

Whether it’s starting college, gearing up for work’s busy season, or moving to a new place, life’s most exciting times can also be the busiest. This may leave you with little time to execute your well-intentioned health goals. Instead of letting change derail you, put these simple strategies in place to set you up for success:

  1. Make a plan: Take a few minutes at the beginning of every week to schedule your exercise (just like any other appointment) and plan your meals and snacks. This takes a lot of the guesswork out of your day and removes the dreaded “what’s for dinner?” question. Want to take it a step further? Share your plan with a friend or family member who can help keep you accountable.
  2. Grocery shop for the week: Once your meals are planned, head to the grocery store and stock your refrigerator and pantry. A well-stocked kitchen (or mini fridge in your dorm room) makes healthy choices an easy decision. Scope out online shopping options that allow you to minimize in-store time!
  3. Meal Prep: Prepare some of your meals on the weekends when you have a little free time. This could mean marinating your proteins, making salad dressings, and chopping vegetables, or it might involve preparing full meals that are ready to heat up. Either way, you’ll have a head start and will be less likely to reach for your take out menus.
  4. Always have healthy snacks on hand. Most people feel hungry every 3-4 hours, and it may not be time for a full meal when hunger strikes. Instead of heading to the vending machine or, even worse, not eating (which leaves you “hangry” and more likely to overeat at your next meal) keep snacks with you. Trail mix and hand fruit like apples and bananas are great portable snacks, but if you’re looking for new ideas, check out our 50 Snacks for Success.
  5. Prioritize Sleep. Research has shown that people who sleep less than seven to eight hours per night are more likely to be overweight or obese. We know that lack of sleep can affect your hunger and fullness hormones, which makes you feel like you need to eat more. (And often that ends up being refined carbohydrates — after all, you need energy from somewhere!) Not to mention, if you’ve gotten less sleep you’re also less likely to exercise.

Sometimes life doesn’t go as expected, so learn what derails you so you can set a plan in place. And know that you can always get right back on track with your next meal or next workout (don’t wait for a new week or new year!). Read here for more on how to stay on track.