5 Ways to Improve Your Diet If You “Don’t Have Time” to Eat Clean


It’s a surprisingly common problem: you want to lose weight and improve your diet, but you just don’t seem to have time to prepare healthy meals every day. Research shows that most people want to improve their eating habits (and will even pay more to do so), but typically fail to do so because they either don’t have time or simply don’t know how.

Luckily, like most fitness-related frustrations, the idea that eating clean requires an encyclopedic knowledge of nutrition or hour after hour of free time is more of a myth than it is a reality. Even if your time is limited because of work of family commitments, you can improve your eating habits and live a healthier, more nutritious life.

Here’s how, in five quick, simple and easy-to-implement tactics:

Search for healthier options at the food court or restaurant

Finding healthy food while you’re out and about can be a nightmare. Since most strip malls contain nothing but fast food and the average food court is packed with oily, unhealthy food options, it can feel impossible to find nutrient dense, healthy food.

Luckily, there are options available. The key is to dump the “perfection only” mindset and instead focus on eating the next best thing that fits into your macros.

Subway is not perfect as a food option, but if Burger King scores 50% on the health scale, it will at least score 75%. Likewise, dining options that aren’t 100% clean but still come close to being 75% clean are a better option than simply resigning yourself to the fact that there’s nothing healthy available at all.

It’s never good to skip a meal, even if it means avoiding unhealthy options. Remember the saying that “great is the enemy of good” and don’t be afraid to eat meals that aren’t totally perfect sometimes. Although you might not think so, your body will thank you.

Use a food preparation service to get clean, healthy food delivered

If your busy professional schedule means you can’t prepare food at home, you can always get it delivered. Meal preparation and delivery services are available in most US cities (Greatist has a good summary of the most popular options) and most will offer a good variety of diet and health-friendly dishes at fairly good prices.

These services aren’t cheap, but before you scoff at the price, consider how much you’ll lose by avoiding healthy eating entirely. Sometimes it’s best to spend a little extra today if it gets you convenience and results  than spending a lot more in the future to make up for lost opportunities and wasted time.

Prepare your meals at home, then package them to take with you

Can’t afford to get your clean meals delivered? Instead of paying $20+ per meal to get clean food delivered to your home or office, try preparing your food at home and packaging it inside meal prep containers to take with you to work.

Meal prep isn’t as challenging as you’d might think — there’s even a subreddit devoted to spending a few hours every Sunday preparing the week’s meals. Fitness website GainsBible has a great guide to packaging your meal prep to last throughout the week.

Preparing your own food at home certainly requires some amount of time commitment, but it’s significantly cheaper than ordering it from elsewhere. Better yet, you’re in total control of the ingredients you decide to use, letting you focus on getting essential protein and other key micro and macronutrients for good health.

Apply the 80/20 rule to clean eating and resist most temptation

It’s difficult to resist all tempting food, especially when your professional or family schedule makes preparing your own meals impossible. Instead of resisting all temptation, apply the Pareto Principle to your eating habits and focus on the 20% of changes that make 80% of the difference.

A single Big Mac isn’t going to ruin an entire week’s diet, just like one great meal won’t fix a week of unhealthy eating. Remember the importance of long-term healthy eating, but don’t let a moment of nutritional weakness put you off working hard to complete your diet to your specifications the rest of the time.

Eat light during the day, but supplement with whey or casein protein

Can’t find good protein sources while you’re out and about? Instead of searching far and wide for lean protein or ordering expensive nutrient dense meals, pack a shaker with you and prepare a whey or casein protein shake while you’re on the go. If you’re allergic to whey protien or just simply don’t like the taste, try one of these four healthy alternatives.

Clean eating doesn’t have to be complicated, and a few small changes to your routine can go a long way when it comes to results. If you struggle to eat clean due to time issues, try any of the four techniques above the clean up your diet, improve your health and feel more comfortable with your body.

James McNeally