When Stress and a Busy Schedule Gets You Off Track

Hello All!

I feel like it’s been ages since I’ve written anything. The last few posts throughout August I had set up months prior because I knew I would be busy and I didn’t want to neglect the blog. However, I thought that by September I’d be able to start where I left off and add posts and get ahead again. Wrong. Things have been non-stop. Not necessarily in a bad way but at times did and does get overwhelming. Because of this I got off track with not only the blog, but my eating, my allergy diet, and also exercise. Because of this, I wanted to share with you how I get myself back on track when things like this happen, even with a busy schedule. But first, let me share with you what got me to this point and 2 things I’ve learned about myself.

You don’t have to read my story. Just skip to the good stuff if you like. I don’t mind. : )

Putting Too Much On Myself

The last few years… years… I’ve been working on being reasonable with myself and knowing what I can handle and what I can’t. It’s always a learning process. There are times I realized I could have done more, and times I should have taken better care of myself. To know when I needed to go home early, or not volunteered my time I really didn’t have that should have been used in more useful ways so that I didn’t become overwhelmed. Or not scheduled every hour of the day thinking that I’m this ball of never-ending energy that’s always okay and can handle anything no matter how emotionally, physically, or mentally stressed and/or drained I already was.

No mental or emotional breakdown yet. And I do know when I need a mental health day or even just an afternoon to get me back on track. I’ve gotten that far. It’s a victory! However, that doesn’t mean I still don’t get myself overwhelmed and that I still need to learn and be okay with saying no to things and responsibilities that I can’t handle. That’s the next hurdle to overcome.

First Thing I Cut Out When Stressed or Overwhelmed

When things start to get busy, one of the first things to go is meal prep/planning for me. It takes time, planning, effort, and motivation. I don’t care how easy some people make it or how quickly you can get it done, it’s a chore. It can be a fun chore, but it’s a chore. It’s something that “has” to get done, but not really. And that’s why it’s the first thing to go. I have to keep my life in working order with laundry, having a clean and good smelling house, get to work, do the other things I’ve said I would do or help with family, etc. but meal planning – I can pick up something. I can throw a PB&J sandwich and carrot sticks in a bag and call it lunch. And dinners, whatever is simple, quick, and easy. I’m not about microwave meals, but already pre-made meals to heat up in the oven or something that I can make quick like pasta starts to become the normal. Then James starts asking for chili dogs and macaroni and cheese, or frozen pizza, or quesadillas, etc.

For a week or two, having this routine – it’s not a bad thing. We all have weeks to where getting something to eat to keep going is about all we can do. But when it goes on for months… Not counting 1 random Sunday I actually prepped a breakfast and lunch for the week, it has been since March that I’ve truly regularly meal prepped. I’ve gained weight I know. I don’t know how much yet. I’ll come to that when I’m ready to do something about it. And my digestive system can’t take much more. Even if the things I’m grabbing are “healthy”, I’m still constantly mixing in fast food and pick-up-and-go food to my diet all the time. Not to mention the cookies that have somehow found their place in my house on a regular basis.

To be honest, me feeling overwhelmed is probably, no most definitely, partly to do with how I’ve been eating. Because of having food allergies, it’s more than a physical reaction. It’s also emotional and mental as well. Eating things that are easy and half way prepared, especially vegetarian will more than likely have dairy and soy in it. Soy being my more major allergen. And then eating heavier and less healthy veggie burgers, etc. can mess up your digestive system. Then being stressed on top of it – my poor immune and nervous system has about had it. Nothing major, but enough to where I notice it. I feel overwhelmed. My digestive system is not normal – cramping, bloating, etc. And then sometimes I’ll feel tingling in the back of my legs to my lower back from my nervous system trying to keep up.

Getting Back on Track

Evaluate Your Routine

Look at your routine and see if you can find what you need to do and what you can do less of. Any gaps in your routine, keep them, but make sure you are at a place where you can relax and do something you enjoy.

A huge benefit is to make sure you are getting enough sleep. Not only will this help mentally, but physically and specifically with your digestive system.

Find Out What You Can Realistically Change

Change what you can. As mention above, sleep is one thing you can change now, and start today with a small change to your routine. Here are some other things I look at to see if it’s realistic for me to change or if I’m ready to change these habits.

  • Reduce caffeine and/or alcohol
  • Breakfast: I usually will have time to make a protein shake. My tip is to make sure there is a serving of vegetables (spinach) and if desired, a fruit with the protein mix.
  • Lunches: Don’t eat and go. Have at least 30 minutes of just sitting and eating. Don’t rush your eating times. Make time for it.
    • Try to find something that won’t weigh you down. Find a lunch either that you prep or can buy, but make sure it’s something clean and easy to digest that doesn’t feel heavy. If you are constantly on the move, then taking time to sit and eat a LIGHT lunch is well worth it. I usually make sure either I’m having something full of protein and vegetables or have a snack plate with nuts, vegetables, fruit, and maybe some cheese.
  • If you have 10 minutes and you are not physically exhausted, take a small walk. Even 10 minutes is worth it to relieve some stress and help you get your focus back. The more you can do, (longer or brisker walking) the more you will activate your lymphatic system which helps with detoxing. Something we always need when we’re stressed and haven’t been eating well. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20863266
Keep Looking Forward

Don’t try to do everything at once. Unless you are a person who is all in or nothing, keep making small changes to get your routine and diet back to where you want it. There is no set time to do this in. For some people it will take a day, others will take a few weeks, and others might be months, but keep looking forward. Realize what your next step can be and when you are ready to take it. Make a plan of action if you need to. Set goals. Whatever will keep you moving forward however fast or slow that might be, do it.


Cooking For One Experience

I found myself in this situation recently and realized it was for the first time. When I’ve cooked, I have never cooked just for myself. Sure my lunch – sandwich, salad, a pasta here and there. But for dinners I lived with family and although there might have been a portion I had to make just for myself, the main part of the meal was shared with people.

In April and May my husband decided to do a “science experiment” to see if what he was lacking was nutrition to help him gain muscle. He kept with his same routine and realized he wasn’t eating enough. Now, before I continue, James has obsessive compulsive disorder. So when he get’s enthusiastic about a project, it has to be perfect down to the 0.01 gram. LITERALLY! Just grocery shopping for the 6 weeks drove me crazy. It had to be the specific brand of bread because that’s what he calculated. He had to have more of everything. I had to go to the store on certain days so that he had fresh chicken… So instead of me going completely crazy, he took over prepping and cooking his meals for 6 weeks and I was on my own.

I was excited at first, but then realized quickly how much me cooking and enjoying food involves the people I love and having people enjoy the food I make. It has NOTHING to do with me. I was getting frozen Amy’s burritos, frozen veggies and already prepared rice. I was getting canned soups and half way prepared sauces that I would throw whatever veggie I might of had on hand. Lunch became peanut butter and jellies with a few carrot sticks and almonds… All the things I was buying was not necessarily bad. But I wasn’t enjoying it. I wasn’t enjoying cooking. I wasn’t enjoying eating since it was 1/2 way prepared things and I knew I could make it the way I like it, but didn’t have the motivation to do it because I was the only one eating it!

Then I just wanted to buy frozen pizzas or just go out and pick up food so I wouldn’t have to cook it. But then comes the factor of my allergies and it’s hard to just pick up soy/corn/dairy free food that doesn’t get expensive after a while or isn’t too processed.

I have gotten myself back out of prepared foods and back in the kitchen and meal prepping. I wanted to share with you some things that I did to (1) help with an easy meal prep, (2) keep it as fresh as possible, and (3) keep variety which I very much need. Some of your might already know this, but this was an experience I never realized I never experienced before so bare with me.

Photo by Veronika Koroleva on Unsplash
My Grocery Shopping Cart

My weeks usually consist of something Italian, something with curry, something Mexican, and something to just snack on.

Grains & Starches

I always made sure to have brown rice and whole wheat pasta on hand.

Canned Food

For me being vegetarian and soy-free, beans are a staple! I’d wish I could tell you I make them from scratch, but I buy canned no salt added beans. I stocked up on garbanzo beans – because I can put them with anything, black beans because any Mexican dish, I use black beans, and I also added canned diced tomatoes and tomato sauce because I can always use them and make a sauce with them.

If I didn’t use them that week, no harm, I had it for next week.

Frozen Veggies

I never have a problem with frozen veggies – however, when you get into the frozen meal, the frozen broccoli with “sauce”, etc. that’s when you get into trouble. Keep it pure with your frozen veggies other than things like cauliflower rice. Unless it’s mixed veggies, I like to keep my frozen vegetables to 1 ingredient.

This is where I will buy chopped red potatoes, sweet potatoes, frozen broccoli, mixed veggies, green beans, etc. Something to throw in a sauce when I’m cooking or have on the side.


My “just in case” “save my life” snacks are the ones that are usually in the produce department of most stores now that have a small packet of fruits/veggie/almonds/cheese stick, etc. in them. It would be less expensive if I did them myself, and at some point I’m sure I’ll do it, but I barely wanted to cook for myself, let alone prep.


Also, keeping a green on hand, veggies you like raw, and then some fruit to snack on or have for breakfast is always something I keep in the house for a quick salad or something to throw in a sandwich or wrap.

Easy Meal Prep

I never really have a plan, but I made sure I had my flavors and things that would take the longest already prepared.

Make Your Grains Ahead of Time

  • I made a box of whole wheat pasta and kept it in a gallon size bag to keep in the fridge and used it when I was ready to make a sauce.
  • I made my brown rice and kept it for my curry (which I’d buy already made), or whenever I was ready to make a veggie bowl.

You can also go ahead and make any medley or sauce ahead of time to, but for instance with my box of pasta I made one week, I had 3 sauces. Each made the same night I ate it, all in one pan, and all easy and didn’t have any leftovers. I just had to make sure I had the basics to make a sauce: tomato sauce, veggies, cream or coconut cream, vegetable broth, etc. All things you can keep in your pantry.

Bottom Line

Keep it simple and have fresh ready to use ingredients that you usually use at your disposal so when you are ready it doesn’t take long, and you can have a fresh nutritious meal ready! Also – find people to cook for. Invite them over, take something to someone, or start a blog : ). It makes a huge difference. Food is for our energy and to keep us going, but it’s so much more. It’s social, it’s emotional, and it’s something to be shared.

For whatever reason you might just be cooking for yourself, make sure to keep variety and keep it as fresh as you can for yourself to enjoy and to keep it nutritious.