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8 Ways to Manage a Restricted Diet with a Busy Schedule

Updated on January 28, 2020
Rinita Sen profile image

Rinita writes about healthy living in India and has been on a restricted diet since 2017.


Fast-paced urban lives could be so demanding that more often than not, cooking takes a backseat. With so many eating out and take away options available these days, coupled with order-in options that cooking, for those who rush through their lives every day has become a fancy weekend activity. Alas, only if you could do the same. But no, you cannot, because thanks to your restricted diet, you must make your meals, starting from breakfast through, lunch, snacks, and dinner. It is not uncommon for those who follow a restricted diet to fall off the wagon simply because time is not a luxury. Well, all is not lost. With a little bit of routine instilled in your daily life, you can manage cooking while keeping up with your hectic schedule.

Plan, Plan, Plan

The key to time management, any form of time management, is to plan. Plan deliberately and efficiently. This is no age to run to the grocery store each time you prepare a meal. Therefore, planning is a must. Do not put off listing your grocery needs for the weekend. Take a couple of minutes every night after dinner to identify if your pantry needs anything. Maintain a list of the things you require and store it where you can easily update it. You could also jot down an item the minute you empty a packet or jar during cooking. The best time to plan is ‘now’.

Shop Online Wherever Possible

Speaking of grocery, running around in a supermarket with one hand on the cart and the other on items stacked up in the aisles, while maintaining a consistent glance on your list, is a thing of the past. Online grocery stores have become the boon of the decade, especially for those who must shop frequently, aka, the ones with a restricted diet. Do exercise caution before using any of these platforms. Purchase quickly perishable items such as bread, milk, fruits, and veggies only from reputed stores or stores where you can return an old or damaged item. Packaged foods such as salt, oils, pulses, flours, rice, etc. are usually harmless when purchased online.

Break Down Your Meals

Not every meal should constitute the same items, but there is a set pattern you need to follow when you are on a restricted diet. Your plate for lunch could contain veggies, meat or fish, and maybe some carbohydrates such as rice. Identify each of those components separately for every meal and then figure out how much of each of those items you would need in one week. For example, you might need 1 kg of chicken to last you through dinner each week but might need only 500 g of fish for your weekly lunch menu. Divide and conquer.

Batch Cook

The idea behind segregating your portions for a week is to batch cook whenever possible. With vegetables, you need a lot of diversity, hence batch cooking might not always be the healthiest option. In such cases, you could cook two or three different types of vegetables and rotate them through the week. With fish and meat, batch cooking is a lot easier. Prepare larger batches and freeze to last more than a week. When you batch cook, you do invest a fair amount of time upfront, but this extra work pays off when you are super busy during the work week and just want to come home each day, heat some pre-cooked food, and head to bed.

Store Wisely

Storing foods well so that they remain as fresh as possible is a key aspect of batch cooking. When freezing cooked food, make sure you store different portions in separate containers. Do not thaw and re-freeze the same box over and over again. This might cause bacteria growth and your food will also lose its nutritional value. When buying groceries, buy items that stay fresh in the refrigerator for long with proper packaging. For example, leafy greens do not usually refrigerate well when kept as they are, but with proper storage techniques (using airtight containers and a paper towel), they could last for up to a week.

Ask for Help

You are following a restrictive eating protocol for a reason, which is, more often than not, your health. Do not attempt to go at it alone. This will pile up your misery and stress you out. Ask for help from other family members in all of your food preparations. If you have kids, encourage them to help in the kitchen and prepare the easier meals themselves. Ask your partner for help with other daily chores as well. Sometimes they are not sure how they could help, but they genuinely want to ease your burden. All you need to do is ask.

Be Flexible

Even with the meal planning and preparations, there could be times when you have no food stocked in your refrigerator and you simply do not have the time to cook. For such emergencies, store some dehydrated veggies, protein powder, etc., which are compatible with your diet. These could be your go-to quick fixes for the rainy day. Also, research on nearby restaurants that might be able to provide you with customized salads or other healthy food options, just so you could survive the night. Do not make this a habit, though and get back to preparing food in your kitchen the earliest you can.

Make Common Meals Whenever Possible

You might be in a situation where you follow a restricted diet but the rest of the family does not. Well, there is no need for them to cut down on the items that they love, but cooking separate items for yourself and the family all the time could take a toll on you. Mix it up and prepare some dishes that everyone could eat and enjoy. It not only reduces your time in the kitchen but also brings the family closer when they share and discuss the same food. Additionally, they get to see how it feels to be on a diet and are thus able to be more compassionate with you.

Plan Better, Eat Better

Beginning with a restricted diet could be unnerving and it could take months to find a balance between preparing food and the other tasks of your life. Once you get yourself into gear, though, things usually begin to run smoothly. You could be amazed at how well-organized you could be in the kitchen once you give these tips a shot. At the end of the day, it is all about benefiting your health. Planning well for your meals could help you stay relaxed. Soon, everything should start falling into place and you no longer would feel the need to rush through other chores just so you could have something to eat.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2020 Rinita Sen


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