Put personal health on your to-do list
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Making Time for Healthy Eating

By Andrea Holwegner, For The Calgary Herald   November 25, 2010

making time for healthy eating at work

Brent worked long hours at a high-stress corporation, was a slave to his BlackBerry and often worked late in the evening at home after his kids went to bed.

With a hectic schedule and extensive travel with his work, he often ate out and never managed to use his gym membership.

His doctor diagnosed him with sleep apnea and high cholesterol, and told him to lose 30 pounds because he was at high risk for a heart attack.

When Brent contacted me to set up our first appointment for nutrition counselling, it was difficult to find a time that worked for him because of his chaotic schedule. As I began to work with Brent over the course of several months he cancelled meetings and struggled to follow through on the health and nutrition goals we had set.

I asked Brent what was holding him back. His response didn’t surprise me, because I had heard it before.

He said “when things slow down at work, I finish this project and I’m not so busy — then I will have time to do this.”

The truth is, life never really slows down long enough to give you time to make all the changes you want to your health. There is no better time than now.

Now, I’m not saying it’s easy, but you can do it if you set small, achievable goals and make a healthy lifestyle a priority.

Some of the busiest people I know are also the healthiest. Choosing to be healthy takes time and effort, but the payoffs in energy, productivity and health are worth it.

The key to having the time you need to take care of your personal health starts with examining your everyday schedule. Ever notice the things not on your to-do list or not in your calendar often don’t get done for days, months or even years?

When Brent and I first looked at his diary and task listing, he had not specifically allocated any time to use his gym membership, grocery shop or prepare meals, despite wanting to do so.

Until we added appointments into his calendar to do these things — giving them as much importance as a crucial business meeting — he simply didn’t make them happen.

The good news is that once Brent got going on these items and got a taste of what it feels like to lose some weight and be healthy, it also became easier to make better choices when eating out and travelling on business.

Brent also started leaving a stash of healthy snacks at work and in his briefcase for travel, since this saved him time on busy days and meant he didn’t overeat later.

You might be reading this and thinking to yourself that you couldn’t possibly squeeze one more thing into your schedule.

Often you have to let go of something to make space for something new.

New changes you are making — such as taking the time to eat breakfast, pack a healthy lunch or squeeze in a walk — may require you to give up something else, such as watching one hour less TV per night or saying no to extra commitments at work.

There is only so much time each day. You can’t do it all (trust me, I have tried: I left myself burned out and feeling like a failure for not being able to be everything to everyone).

What do you need to let go of to give you the time and energy needed to make room for your health?

Whatever health change you are trying to make, if you don’t prioritize it as one of the top things to do this week, you likely won’t get to it. Decide now that your health has to come first. If you aren’t healthy, you won’t be there for your family, kids and things that matter to you most.

Start each week by examining where personal health is in your calendar and to-do list and begin by adding a few small, attainable goals.

10 snack attacks for busy people

  • Yogurt parfait (yogurt, berries and cereal).
  • Reduced-fat oat bran or bran muffin and cheese.
  • Dried fruit (such as raisins/craisins/apricots/ dates) and nuts (such as almonds/ peanuts/cashews).
  • Raw veggies (such as snap/snow peas, carrots and mini tomatoes) and hummus.
  • Fresh fruit or dried fruit bar and milk or soy milk.
  • Canned fruit cup or applesauce cup and cottage cheese.
  • Grapes and cheese cubes.
  • Whole-grain crackers and mini-can of flavoured tuna/salmon.
  • Protein bar and unsweetened juice.
  • Coffee shop latte, steamed milk or chai tea.

Andrea Holwegner is president of Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. Visit www.healthstandnutrition.com andwww.chocoholicdietitian.com or phone 403-262-3466 for more information on personalized nutrition counselling, seminars and to subscribe to a free monthly ezine.

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Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. They really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Excellent teaching and motivation. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

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