Healthy Eating for Busy People can be a challenge when you’re juggling a 9-5 job, or raising a family. Janel Orvut Funk is a dietitian who works in corporate wellness, so she knows a thing or 2 about eating healthy, and living a busy lifestyle. Here is an interview we did with her, where she shares some of helpful tips:
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Healthy Eating for Busy People:
What made you choose a career as a dietitian, working in corporate wellness? Do you work with people one-on-one in person, through the phone, or online?
Janel: My interest in dietetics started when I was only 10 years old. I developed Lactose Intolerance, at a time when dairy-free alternatives were not common (or tasty!).
I had to become an avid food label reader and soaked up all I could about food, ingredients, nutrition, and its effect on our health. I knew at a very young age that I wanted to be a dietitian! My interest in corporate wellness came in college when I realized I like educating the well-population and preventive health.
I figured since people spend so much of their lives at their job, they may as well learn how to be healthy there! I got to do a short corporate wellness internship in college and I was immediately hooked. I love public speaking and talking to people about nutrition. It’s a perfect fit for me.
I work with a variety of clients in a variety of settings – giving seminars at a corporate wellness site, doing one-on-one counseling, educating through online writing, leading nutrition events for the students at the college where I work, and more!
What tips do you have for busy people trying to eat healthy, but lack the time to cook their own meals?
Janel: I really do believe everyone does have time to cook their own meals, even if it means microwaving pre-cooked brown rice, opening a can of beans, and tossing in a bag of frozen mixed veggies. Healthy cooking does not have to be complicated or time consuming, and you don’t have to be a master chef!
Often times I think it takes longer to wait for pizza delivery or stand in line at a sub shop waiting for a meal to be made. If a client totally relies on food from outside the home, I encourage them to pair it with something fresh or homemade.
For example, if you’re ordering in pizza, whip up a garden salad while you wait for it to be delivered and have them together. Or snack on veggies with hummus alongside your sub. This at least gets people into the habit of making their own food at home.
And speaking of pizza, it tastes way better when it’s homemade, and only takes minutes to prep! Cooking healthy at home begins in the grocery store. If you don’t have the ingredients, you can’t make the food. So really, I help my clients make it a priority to go healthy grocery shopping regularly.
Nutritionally, what does the ideal plate consist of in terms of vegetables, grains, and proteins?
Janel: An ideal plate will have a balance of all three of those components. I call them “combo meals,” and they’re important because you really do need the nutrients from all three categories (carbs, protein, fiber, fat, etc.) to feel satisfied.
I encourage clients to make three lists of foods from those categories: protein, veggies, and complex carbs/whole grains. Then, they can mix and match with foods from each column, but they must have one food from each to make a well-rounded meal.
What are some bizarre but delicious healthy food combinations?
Janel: Nothing is bizarre if it tastes good to you!
Janel: My favorites are nuts, dried fruit, Triscuits or veggies and hummus, or an apple with peanut butter.
What’s your opinion about using the microwave to heat food? Do you think the radiation can be harmful?
Janel: I’m sure in large amounts radiation can be harmful, but my understanding is that the amount we get from microwaving our foods is not significant.
Maybe in a few years I’ll be saying something different! If the microwave helps you heat up healthy food, I say go for it. A sweet potato topped with some beans and veggies, for example, is a great healthy lunch, and it can all be prepped in the microwave.
As a dietitian, what’s the greatest challenge that you face day to day? Anything you wish you could automate with software, or outsource if you could?
Janel: My greatest challenge is educating my clients and the public about REAL nutrition information. There is so much misinformation out there, and so many people claiming to be experts, that it’s important for me to provide my clients with accurate, sound information. I’m up for the challenge!
I love the personal connection that comes with my job. Nutrition is a very personal thing! I’d never want to automate or outsource that. And I love the control I have over my line of work – I get to create my own materials, seminars, etc. and I love coming up with new ways to get an important nutrition message across. I wouldn’t change anything about what I do!
Janel Ovrut Funk of Eat Well with Janel is a registered dietitian. Janel works as a consultant to many companies and organizations specializing in corporate wellness, freelance writing, brand ambassador work, and public speaking. You can follow Janel on her Eat Well with Janel blog, twitter feed @DietitianJanel or Facebook fan page.