This is a guest post by Carl Preston, the founder of a self-development site.

I look back during my early twenties and I remember the how hectic, stressful, and exhausting my life was. At work, completely snowed under, working 70 hour weeks with little respite, and fun weekends that would be commonly understood as restful.

I never thought my health would be ever affected by my lifestyle, surviving on take-out (often fried). I would blame my company’s restaurant for not offering “healthy” food, but would never do anything to fix my diet. Until one day I fell sick for a whole week. It was officially due to stress, but the real reason my doctor told me, was my poor diet and lifestyle.

I learned the importance of doing our best to maintain a healthy and balanced diet, and that having a busy life should not be an excuse. Here are some tips to improve how you eat, and improve your life:

1. Plan Ahead of Time

The first step to eating healthier when you are busy is to plan your meals in advance. Pick a day when you will be able to sit down for fifteen minutes to plan out your meals for the week. This is usually best done the same day each week. This is an investment of time that will, in the long run, save you time because you already know what you are going to eat and you won’t have to spend hours trying to decide what to buy.

2. Prepare Meals Ahead Of Time

Whenever you are not going to be at home, make meals you can bring with you. For example, if you are working tomorrow, make the meal the night before. By making it the night before you won’t have a problem if something comes up in the morning that would have otherwise prevented you from preparing your lunch. And to avoid leaving your lunch at home by accident, try clipping your lunch bag to your other work bags.

3. Mistakes Happen, Be Prepared

Maybe you will still forget a meal at home; or maybe you will drop your food. Sometimes we have unplanned meetings or additions to our shifts. When this happens we find ourselves unprepared food-wise and might end up going with unhealthy, quick alternatives. To prevent this, stock your car and office space with several food bars, or perhaps nuts.

4. Snack Healthy

Snacking between meals is okay if the snacks are healthy ones. The safe way to snack is to ensure you have the right kinds of snacks. Vegetables are a great snack. In most cases the most you will have to do to prepare them is cut them up. Other great options are nuts and yogurt. Nuts are high in protein. Just be careful not to buy salted ones if you need to avoid salt.  Yogurt is another source of protein and no preparation is needed; the only problem is it has to remain cold.

5. Avoid Crumbling Under Pressure

Although our eating habits are entirely our choice, work colleagues can play a role. I would never recommend avoiding eating with others, as socializing is one of the most important aspects of a happy life. Instead, let them know you are trying to improve your eating habits, and invite them to try your new eating habits. Most people will be more responsive than you think, perhaps just needing a bit of encouragement.

6. Remove Temptation

Seeing your co-workers eating unhealthy foods can be tempting. The same, and even more so, can be said when you see those foods in your home. If you have food that isn’t healthy, donate it or get rid of it in some other way before you start your healthy eating plan. This will make it much easier for you to stay on track and eat healthier. You won’t constantly have that hidden snack nagging at the back of your mind. Replace temptations with healthier options.

7. Make Smart Choices

If optimal choices are not available, make the smartest choices you can. Meetings at restaurants will happen. When you are left with no other choice, try for salads and leaner cuts of meat. Items like butter and sauce should be avoided.

Start Slowly

I strongly suggest you avoid what happened to me. Don’t make changes after a crisis. Be proactive. You will notice an increase in energy, motivation, and positivity that will contribute to all areas of your life. A real win-win. Start slowly. Make one change from the tips above, and when you feel more confident, start escalating to achieve all of your goals.

Good luck with it and happy healthy living!

What are your tips? Join the conversation with your comments…

Best regards,