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How to Make Healthy Choices When You

How to Make Healthy Choices When You’re Exhausted

I have a toddler, so I’m always exhausted. And right now I’m really craving a piece of banana bread (and a nap.) I don’t have any banana bread, though, so I’m going to settle for a bowl of banana oatmeal, extra cinnamon. Just as satisfying, but with more fiber and less sugar.

Even if you have no children, or yours are now old enough to dress and bathe themselves, you’re probably tired quite a bit, too. And, as my craving above suggests, being tired often means reaching for something quick and easy, which can mean something sugary or highly processed.

I lucked out in my case; since no banana bread is available and I’m too lazy to bake any (not to mention it will take an hour to bake and I’m hungry right now), I didn’t have to argue with myself about whether or not to give into the sweet treat. And because of smart grocery shopping, the ingredients I need for something a few degrees healthier are readily available, making my better choice pretty simple.

But I know that’s not always going to be the case, and it’s not always easy to reach for the best choice when you’re tired, especially as the days get shorter and the temperatures drop, so here are some ways to give yourself a better chance of choosing health over a quick fix, even when you’re exhausted!

  • Keep healthier (but delicious!) options in your desk at work. If the 3 pm slump is the hardest time for you to stay alert, and also the time you’re most likely to give in and hit the vending machine, make sure you have better options readily available. You can find single serving pouches of various nut butters that go great with chopped up fruit, there are plenty of bars out there with no added sugar but plenty of flavor, and you can always go with a packet of plain oatmeal that you can microwave and doctor for added flavor. Another great idea—take a brisk 5 or 10 minute walk to help get your blood flowing and a little burst of energy.
  • Keep the really decadent stuff out of the house. If you have chocolate layer cake with chocolate ganache sitting on your counter, you’re probably going to eat it. I’m all for a sweet treat in the evenings, and have nothing against eating a special dessert you’ll truly enjoy, but if you are exhausted every evening and find yourself on the couch with a big pile of cookies (or chips) in your lap, try keeping those items out of the house and relying on healthier options to stave off after-dinner munchies.
  • Stock your house with things you love to eat. Grocery shopping often is the key to making healthy choices all week long, no matter how tired you are. If you have something delicious in your house, say roasted butternut squash with apples and walnuts, you’ll eat it! You’re also less likely to call out for a pizza if you have plenty to eat at home. Another great idea is to keep a few frozen meals (preferably with plenty of veggies and relatively low sodium) in the freezer for those nights you really can’t imagine putting together a delicious meal.
  • Automate as much as possible. Prepare foods ahead of time so that you don’t have to make tough decisions when you’re incredibly tired. If you can barely get out of the recliner, you’re not going to peel, chop, and steam vegetables and roast a chicken. Have brown rice, lean protein, and chopped up veggies already in your fridge. Prepare your breakfast for the next morning ahead of time. Do whatever you can to have foods ready and available, and eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch all week so you don’t have to make too many decisions.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.