We all have that hell week where we’re busy just about every second of our lives. You eat fast food at random hours and ramen is your go-to “dinner.” Your tummy just wants fresh food but you haven’t had time to go grocery shopping so you’re living off of mixed nuts and cereal (or maybe just me … true story). At the end of the week you kind of want to die, but it’s over so you can go back to your normal eating habits. But what if every week was as busy as the hell week? How would you stay healthy? Would you eat at McDonald’s ten times? No, no you shouldn’t do that. Actually here’s 7 things you should and shouldn’t do to eat healthy when you're busy.

Be Realistic

You should not assume that because you’re eating healthy and trying to lose weight that you will be fine eating a tiny salad that only rabbits would have for dinner. You should also not eat a whole box of couscous with cheese and turkey bacon at midnight to make up for how hungry you were.

Be realistic. You know how much you eat and being busy won’t lessen that amount. Eating less will only make you cranky, and if you’re like me you get hangry. Don’t make other people deal with that. Eat full meals or the caloric equivalent.

Eat foods in moderation

Do not work at Panera and hoard all of their bakery items, including but not limited to, bagels, baguettes, cinnamon rolls, bear claws, sugar cookies, blueberry muffins, and scones. On the off chance that you do do that, you probably shouldn’t eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next three days … and you also probably shouldn't freeze half of them so that you can keep the unhealthy train going forever. Just don’t … Same goes for frozen yogurt, dining hall food or anything from BJ’s Brewhouse (not that I’m saying this from very specific food experiences (I am)).

Instead of hoarding free food, which I still struggle with, try to only accept normal amounts of free food. Free food is great but usually not healthy, and in most cases the free food is dessert. The key to being healthy in general is eating food in moderation and that goes double for unhealthy food. You could have four straight days of going healthy and ruin it all in one day of eating nonstop unhealthy food. Don’t be me. Don’t do that.

Make a Shopping List

Do not walk into Target without a shopping list. Ever. You will buy the whole store and if you’re hungry while there you’ll buy way too much wine and ice cream (like 6 pints and bottles). Then when you get home you’ll eat half of it, down a bottle of wine, and forget about some foods until the day after they expire.

On the flip side you could walk into Walmart and only buy cereal and a large box of mixed nuts when really you needed much more than that. So now you’re eating cereal and mixed nuts for a week because you didn’t have a car to go back to the store and you didn’t have the time anyways.

Plan ahead. Make a shopping list. (Please)

Eat Evenly Split Meals

This one might be a little harder to explain, but my “don’t” will make it easier to understand … When you go to a buffet or have the opportunity to eat an excessively large meal, don’t. Don’t eat the giant meal. On top of that, don’t skip out on lunch and dinner because you had so much food for breakfast that you’re not hungry. Then on the off chance you do both of these things, don’t go to a party that night and drink alcohol when you haven’t had food for 12 hours. You just might get sick ... not that I wouldn't know (I do, it sucks).

If you want to eat healthy when you're busy be smart about when you eat and how much you eat per meal. Eating one large meal to make up for lost time only slows down your metabolism and makes you gain weight.

Meal Prep

Don’t think about what to eat for dinner ten minutes before you need to leave your house. You’ll end up going to a food court, getting half full on the free food samples and then stuffing yourself on a crappy meal there.

Instead, meal prep. To eat healthy when you're busy make meals in the morning or pick a day where you prepare a bunch of food groups and mix and match them throughout the week. Make at least one protein, two starches and two vegetables for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This gives you enough options to have a variety throughout the week and not get bored. Adding in different sauces can also help.

Always Have Snacks at Hand

In restaurants, you don’t get very many breaks and ironically you sometimes go a lot of time without eating. Don’t clock into your shift empty handed or on an empty stomach, especially if you’re working a double. You might be so hungry after work that you go for the closest fast food or eat a whole BJ’s Pizookie and side of fries at midnight. Hi, have you met my best friend Regret?

You know your friend who is super skinny and is always snacking? She’s a genius. She’s eating all the time, which keeps up her metabolism and her lack of appetite actually makes it easier for her to resist unhealthy foods. If you want to eat healthy when you're busy, you can't be hungry all the time. Like I said, I get seriously hangry. I’m like every single “You’re not you when you’re hungry” Snickers commercial. Snacks are imperative to me not murdering someone or bingeing on food the second I get out of work.

Turn Everything into a Wrap or Smoothie

Don’t live off of snacks. That’s just sad. Make a full meal and turn it into wrap. Then you're the person who fits full meals into wraps. Thanksgiving never tasted so weird.

But seriously, almost all foods work great in a wrap and if not they work in a smoothie. If you’re trying to be extra calorie conscious for the wrap, then get a spinach wrap or make one out of lettuce. Then way when you’re hungry you can eat anywhere because there’s no mess.  

I might not be the best at following these rules, but I've learned the hard way exactly what you shouldn't do if you want to eat healthy with no breaks.