How to be healthy even when you’re really busy.

QLD Health
Thanks to our brand partner, QLD Health

Whenever we’re busy and stressed, the first things to be sacrificed from our routines are the two things that would actually help us feel better – healthy eating and regular exercise.

After an intense day at work with overtime coming out the wazoo, the couch is far preferable to the kettlebell. And while you’re ferrying the kids between school, soccer practice and clarinet lessons, a glass of red is looking far more appealing than a green smoothie.

Trying to achieve that elusive work/life balance seems impossible most days but we’re here to assure you, it doesn’t have to be.

Here are eight realistic, simple and effective ways that we can all be a bit healthier, even if we’re really busy.

1. Prepare your meals in advance.

Lord knows this advice has been suggested to death but it really is the most effective way to ensure you are consistently eating well. Take a one-hour break out of your Sunday Netflix schedule to roast some vegetables, boil some rice and bake some pesto-marinated chicken breasts.

Outlander will be there when you get back, we promise. If you need more culinary inspiration the Queensland Government’s Healthier. Happier. website has a range of simple, quick, healthy and delicious recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and yes, even dessert.

Take a one-hour break out of your Sunday Netflix schedule to prepare some meals. Image: iStock.

2. Invest in a slow cooker.

If you want to eat healthily with minimal time and effort, having a slow cooker in your repertoire is essential. With a large but economical cut of lamb, pork or beef and a selection of vegetables and spices you’ll have lunch and dinner options for a week. Just find a simple recipe, bung all your ingredients in the slow cooker on a low heat before heading to work and it’ll be done by the time you’re home.

3. Turn your next meeting into a walk and talk.

If it doesn’t require a PowerPoint presentation and a laser pointer, take your next meeting outside. Instead of attempting to keep your eyes pried open while cooped up in a stuffy boardroom, ask your co-workers to take a lap around the block or a stroll to a local park to hash out your ideas.

woman walking

Take your next meeting outside. Image: iStock. 

4. Make some simple food swaps.

Eating well is all about making better food choices, but to do so you really need to know what constitutes a healthy choice. At the Queensland Government’s Healthier. Happier. website you’ll find information on how big a serve size should be, how to read food labels and ingredient lists properly and discover some simple food swaps that will cut kilojoules while upping the flavour, fibre and goodness. Try avocado on wholemeal toast over butter on white bread, and dollop Greek yogurt on your burritos instead of sour cream.

5. Mix up your workouts.

Of course you’re going to lose motivation to exercise if you’re doing the same, repetitive work out day after day. The Queensland Government’s Healthier. Happier. website has a range of different strength, stability and cardio exercises with quick videos showing how to master the moves properly.

And while you’re mixing up your day-to-day sessions, make at least one work out a week something new and exciting. Try a ballet-barre class, take a scenic hike or do a session at a trampoline centre. Yeah, trampolining may seem like an activity for kids but trust me, you’ll be sweating (and swearing) profusely within minutes.


It. Is Hard. Image: Supplied. 

6. Take time to chew.

Chewing your food slowly and thoroughly only takes a few extra seconds but has huge health benefits. The Conversation cites research from The University of Birmingham confirming that prolonged chewing reduces meal intakes and ongoing snacking. One tip to help prolong your chewing is to take an actual lunch break (shock, horror) away from screens and distractions. Focus on your meal, placing your knife and fork down after every bite.

7. Commit to exercising with other people.

Set up one or two days a week where you are committed to working out with one, two or even a team of people. Whether it’s a social netball competition or a regular running partner, it’s harder to bail on other people with an “I’m too busy” excuse. Plus, the element of socialisation (between gasps for breath) makes the whole thing more fun anyway.

Set up one or two days a week where you are committed to working out with one, two or even a team of people. Image: iStock.

8. Trick yourself into drinking enough water.

We all have those days where we are too busy to even blink, let alone leave our desks for a glass of water. To make sure you’re getting the recommended eight glasses, or one to two litres, buy a big bottle of water and mark the hours of the day, counting down to the base.

By 11am you should have drunk one quarter of the bottle, by 3pm two thirds, and so on. Alternatively, set an alarm on your phone reminding you on the hour to get up, stretch your legs and get a glass of water. Because really, will the world end if you take a 60 second break from your work every now and then?

How do you stay healthy when you are super busy?