Setting a Healthy & Balanced Eating Routine: Complete Guide

One of the essential things in maintaining a balanced diet is setting an eating routine that will help you develop healthy habits and stay fit even with a busy schedule. The time when you eat your meals links to the digestion processes. Besides, the study says our biological rhythms adjust to our primal habits like sleeping or eating time.

Your body produces gastric juice several times a day. That means, if you have a messed eating routine, it may lead you to numerous digestive disorders like gastric or obesity. Now let's discover how you can set up a healthy eating routine if you're busy.

Steps to set a healthy & balanced eating routine

Don't miss your breakfasts

In a morning rush, it's pretty easy to forget about putting something in your stomach. Still, don't underrate breakfast's importance in your diet. Recent research states that those who skip breakfast have an 87% higher risk of dying from heart disease than breakfast eaters. The study claims you reduce your chances of developing high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes by ignoring morning meals.

By eating breakfast daily, you supply your body with the energy it needs, restore your glycogen level, and turn on your digestive system for other meals. Besides, researchers state that morning meals can improve your memory, problem-solving abilities, concentration, and mood.


Breakfast takes first place among other meals in maintaining a balanced diet. The survey reveals that breakfast eaters consume less sugar, fiber, iron, folate, calcium, and vitamins C and A. What's more, the Healthy Eating Index that measures diet quality is higher among people who don't ignore morning meals.

But how can you eat breakfast daily if you're too busy with morning cooking? We've prepared a list of wholesome and time-saving breakfasts you can cook in no time:

  • Greek yogurt with berries, chia seeds, and granola
  • Oatmeal with apples, bananas, and cinnamon
  • Toasts with avocado and fried eggs
  • Hard-boiled eggs with fresh tomatoes and quinoa
  • Wraps with scrambled eggs, beans, tomatoes, and cucumber.

But be careful and avoid low-calorie or fatty breakfasts if you don't want to ruin your energy for the day ahead. Pastry or processed foods like frozen crepes quickly digest, so you will run off "fuel" too soon. In turn, low-calorie food fails to supply you with the necessary energy, so you'll end up eating quick snacks before lunch and ruining your eating schedule.

Watch your eating frequency

Numerous eating plans and dietitians' recommendations make it hard to define how often you should take your meals. And when you're a busy career professional, it's even more challenging since you have limited lunchtime. But studies claim there's a link between your body state and eating frequency — let's figure it out.

Salad on the plate

The traditional eating pattern of "three meals a day" is becoming less popular. As the study claims, eating more than three times a day links to a healthier weight and lower hunger. It suggests taking four meals daily (the golden mean between too frequent and rare meals) to subdue hunger and prevent overeating.

But what matters most in maintaining a balanced diet is eating consistently. Survey shows people with a messed eating routine (like eating at different times or taking meals too late at night) tend to be obese and risk getting diabetes. Infrequent meal taking also may increase the number of hunger-related hormones in your body and cause a metabolic disturbance.

But how can you eat at the same time every day and take four meals when you're extremely busy? We've prepared a few tips for you:

  1. Make morning meals bigger than evening meals since our digestion works better in the first half of the day
  2. Set up an alarm that will remind you to take a meal
  3. One of the four meals can be a hearty snack (like a whole-grain bread sandwich with boiled chicken) if you lack the time
  4. If you've missed one of your meals, don't refill yourself with too-calorie-dense foods. Eat your regular meal, and take a banana or mango to suppress food cravings if still hungry.

According to the research, there's perfect timing for every meal to make the most out of them:

salmon and backed vegetables on the plate

  • Breakfast

When you wake up, your stomach is empty, and your sugar level is drastically low. It supplies you with the energy for the day ahead and turns on your digestion.

Thus we suggest you take breakfast not longer than an hour before waking up. Otherwise, you may be low on energy and eat some unhealthy sugary snacks to refill yourself before lunch.

  • Lunch

At midday, your metabolism peaks, which makes it a perfect time to take lunch. Ideally, you should eat it at least four hours after breakfast so your stomach will fully digest it.
But make sure your lunch isn't too big or calorie-dense because overeating at this time can make you sleepy and tired for the rest of your day.

  • Dinner

After lunch, you will likely feel hungry for four or five hours — this is a perfect time to have dinner. You'd finish it at least three hours before going to sleep to avoid weight gain and sleep disturbance.
And your digestion is slowlier at the end of the day, so consider making your dinner not too big. So your body will manage to burn calories before you go to sleep.

  • Snack time

If you feel yourself craving food between main meals, you can make one hearty snack time in a day to avoid overeating later. The best time for it is two hours after the last meal.

Define when you're feeling the strongest hunger — between breakfast and lunch. Or maybe you are always hungry in the afternoons? Then set up a specific snack time and stick to it.

snacks in the hand

Develop a food prep ritual

What can make any routine task more appealing and relaxing? How about morning meal preparation?

Food preparation rituals are critical to a balanced diet consistency and healthy eating routine. Survey has proved that performing rituals enhances your food enjoyment. It also helps you change your attitude towards food and develop so-called mindfulness towards everything you put on your plate.

Still, practicing food prep rituals may sound like unrealistic advice if you're so busy that you have less than half an hour for breakfast or lunch. But keep calm — most food preparation rituals take just a minute. Here they are:

  • Prepare your favorite drink before eating your meal. Whether a non-sugared latte or green tea — this ritual will make you enjoy your meal more.
  • Avoid distractions. Put away your newspapers, bills, or documents that may distract you from the meal. It will help you eat your food mindfully and satisfy your hunger better.
  • Mute and hide your gadgets before eating a meal. The Facebook feed can wait until you finish lunch. And you can finally see what they're putting in this chicken pie.
  • When packing your lunch, pick your favorite container. Even the most minor details, like container color, can affect your appetite, so it better be up to your liking.
people are sitting together and eating
  • Get company. Study proves food that you eat in the company tastes better. So, if possible, go to lunch with your colleagues, and have dinner in your family circle to promote healthy eating routines.

Drink before meals

You should know this typical dietitian's advice to drink a cup of water before a meal to promote digestion, but does it help? Various scientific studies prove that drinking water before eating impacts your diet, weight, and appetite.

Recent research says drinking water increases fat oxidation because plain water doesn't promote insulin production. Thus, you can fill your stomach with water to consume fewer calories.

Another study claims that drinking two cups of water before every meal can help you lose extra weight during the diet. Water before the meal makes you less hungry, so you eat less, which allows you to control your weight.

But be careful — drinking too much water before eating may dilute your stomach acid and slow your digestion. Also, ensure you're not drinking sugary drinks before meals, as they're bursting with calories and strengthen your hunger.

woman drinks a cup of water

Make small steps toward a proper eating routine

You can find it hard to change your eating habits right here and now. Therefore, we recommend you start small and build your way up to a healthy eating routine. However, don’t push yourself too hard to achieve significant results in a short period.

For instance, if you're used to eating late in the evening, try to eat such meals earlier and drink more water if you're still feeling hungry. Then, after you have a regular dinner time, move on with the breakfast.

If you don't like eating early or feel nauseous in the morning, begin with the small bites. Just one whole-grain toast or a small greek yogurt cup will be great to start. After some time, when your stomach is ready for an early meal, you can go on with more hearty breakfasts like eggs, oatmeal, or healthy pancakes.

And remember — you're doing great even if your steps towards your eating routine are tiny for now. Your path will eventually lead you to balanced nutrition and, in turn, to a productive life full of energy.

How to save time and eat healthily?

A balanced diet is half planning and half persistence. But, even with the busiest schedule, you can manage to eat healthy meals if you're steady in your goal. And here are our three main tips to help you fit a healthy diet into your schedule.

Tip 1: Plan your menu ahead

Meal planning is the best solution to help you maintain a balanced diet with a busy schedule. It's not only time-saving and convenient for your budget — scientists associate meal planning with overall better health.

salad on the table

People who plan meals tend to have a more nutrient-variable diet and are less likely to become obese. In addition, dietitians claim planning meals ahead helps you choose more wholesome and balanced meals instead of fast foods or processed foods.

Menu-planning will help you save time on shopping and cooking since you won't need to think twice about cooking and what products you need. Plus, when you already know what you're preparing, it's easier to begin cooking or order a particular dish at meal delivery.

You can plan weeks of what you’ll have for lunch and dinner since these meals are more time-consuming than breakfast. Your meal plan can include the name of the dish, the ingredients you need for it, and recipe tips if you’re cooking it for the first time. If you’re ordering takeaway a few times a week, you can choose what you’ll order (to save more time) and put these dishes into your plan.

So how can you start planning your meals?

  1. Make a meal calendar. It can be a simple sheet of paper on your fridge or a particular wall planner to write down the meals for the week. Or you can keep all your meals on your smartphone, share them with family members, and plan dinners together.
  2. Jam-pack your pantry. To prevent unforeseen shopping when you need just a few things, stock up on essential and non-perishable foods.
  3. Make your menu variable. Try not to stick to the same recipes too often. Let your creativity flow! For example, turn a Saturday into a Mexican food day with guacamole toast for breakfast and a healthy veggie burrito for dinner.
  4. Store leftovers. What is leftover from yesterday's dinner can become a perfect filling meal for today's lunch. Make sure you store leftovers in the right way — in a clean and tightly closed container in your fridge.
  5. Plan your food deliveries. If you order lunches at the restaurant, decide what you'll get a week ahead. Thus, you won't waste time deciding which soup you should choose.
man cooks a salad

    Tip 2: Choose easy-to-cook recipes

    Recipe choice is the primary thing when it comes to time-saving cooking and meal planning. If you want to spend less time cooking, try not to choose complicated recipes with long preparations. Instead, choose meals you can cook within half an hour or those meals that don't need your attention all the time.

    And if you have a busy schedule, experimental cooking won't be the best choice as, in that case, you have a high risk of spoiling products. Thus, choose meals you've tried cooking that you'd like to eat. And here are our suggestions regarding recipe choices to make your cooking routine easier:

    1. Choose meals with ordinary ingredients. Yeah, you don't want to run through supermarkets searching for the ancient plant root from Chile. Pick recipes with simple ingredients you can find at your local store.
    2. Choose step-by-step recipes. Plenty of cooking books and recipe websites give you a detailed guide on any dish. When following this guide, you won’t get lost in the process and will have no chance to spoil a huge family dinner.
    3. Cook more than you need. Preparing an exact amount of food that you’ll eat at once is not time-consuming. So when choosing recipes, prefer those that will bless you with leftovers.
    4. Choose approved recipes. It could be the lucky number of ingredients from a newbie cooker. Then choose recipes with positive reviews and photos.
    oranges in the bag

        Tip 3: Add raw foods to your meals

        The optimal solution for a balanced and time-saving diet is adding more raw foods to your meals. Most of the veggies we eat are way healthier if you eat them raw. Oils, salts, and sugars, added when cooking, make them unhealthy for our diet.

        Firstly, it saves your time — some veggies like carrots or cauliflower need more time to be fully cooked. So when you eat them raw, you have an extra half an hour to spend on more essential things.

        But another significant reason to add raw foods to your menu is that it’s overwhelmingly healthy! Medical studies show eating natural foods reduces inflammation, promotes kidney health, supports healthy digestion, and helps regulate your weight.

        Here are a few suggestions for you on how you can add raw foods to your meals:

        1. Eat power salads. The best option for eating raw foods is to make or order power salads with plenty of leafy greens and various veggies. It’s rich in nutrients and wholesome for your health due to the antioxidants and vitamins it contains. Plus, you can eat even the hugest power salad portion and still don’t worry about your waistline.
        2. Use raw veggies as an appetizer. Refreshing cucumber or baby carrots can be a perfect appetizer for your meal. They’re not just tasty but also make you complete without eating extra calories.
        3. Add sprouted legumes instead of cooked. Cooked and canned legumes lack half of the original nutrients you can find in raw legumes. Thus, consider adding raw ones to your salads, soups, and garnishes.
        1. Choose fruits and berries instead of syrups as a topping for desserts. You usually add maple syrup or sugary topping to make it tastier when you get a cup of ice cream or a portion of pancakes. However, fresh fruits and berries are much better for a topping. They contain a healthy mix of three natural sugars, providing you with long-lasting energy without excess fats.
        2. Add raw dairy to your meals. Raw dairy like milk and cheese are free of preservatives. That makes them an excellent choice when adding more raw foods to your menu.

        Time-saving meal ideas, perfect for a bust lifestyle

        As we know you can be too busy to spend hours browsing healthy recipes, we have come up with time-saving and balanced meal ideas for you to try. Our list covers breakfasts, lunches, dinners, desserts, and drinks. But be aware of unintentional drooling — just reading about them can make you hungry.

        Breakfast ideas

        Banana pancakes with oatmeal

        Rich in protein, fiber, and calcium, these pancakes will blow you away! You can also make them gluten and sugar-free and freeze them for the week ahead. Moreover, you can quickly cook them by mixing all ingredients in the blender.

        Vegetable egg scramble

        It’s hard to imagine breakfast without eggs. And you don’t need to! Because this veggie egg scramble is a total blast — both in terms of taste and nutritional value. Besides, you can cook it in no time. Then, you can add any veggies you like (bell peppers, onion, mushrooms, spinach) and pack yourself with nutrients for the whole day.

        Vegetables on the white plate

        Oatmeal with berries

        Oatmeal is always a great breakfast option if you don’t have much time for cooking. Whole-grain oats are rich in fiber and protein. Simultaneously, berry toppings supply your body with nutrients and antioxidants and make oatmeal taste great.

        red and black berries on white plate

        Lunch ideas

        Tuna and veggie wraps Find it hard to eat fish regularly? No more fret because this quick tuna and veggie wrap will become your favorite lunch meal. Made with whole-grain tortillas, fresh cucumbers, lettuce, and bell peppers, it’s doing a great job supplying you with the necessary nutrients, protein, and fiber. And the icing on the top is an Omega-3-rich tuna to support your vessels and promote brain performance.

        Chicken steak with couscous and power salad

        Chicken is one of the healthiest and fast-cooking meat you can find. It’s rich in protein and amino acids, while couscous is an excellent source of fiber. As for couscous, you can also get it ready in a few minutes just by pouring some hot water. And to add some juice and nutrients to the lunch, you have a power salad with leafy greens, veggies, and seeds.

        salad with tomatoes

        Wild mushroom pasta

        If you’re dizzy after eating meat for lunch, try to cook a peerless wild mushroom pasta. Quick and yummy! Fiber-rich spaghetti is delicious and creamy wild mushroom sauce full of protein and nutrients. Besides, you can cook more of it and store it for a few days.

        pasta on the plate

        Dinner ideas

        Chicken rice casserole

        The chicken and rice match was indeed made in heaven! You’ll get a filling, protein-rich dinner for the whole family to enjoy with little effort. You can add veggies like zucchini or tomatoes to your casserole to make it even healthier.

        brown and green dish on white plate

        Healthy veggie pizza

        Everyone loves pizza; still, it’s not the healthiest choice for dinner. But what if we tell you that you can prepare a wholesome, nutrient-rich pizza for dinner in less than 25 minutes? Yeah, that’s possible! This pizza will win your heart and stomach with a whole-grain tortilla instead of dough, tomatoes, onions, bell pepper, and mushrooms!

        Piece of pizza

        Turkey burrito bowl

        And what about Mexican cuisine? It has some delicious and quick meals for the big family, such as turkey burrito bowls. Turkey is a rich source of healthy protein, while black beans and brown rice supply you with fiber and long-lasting energy. You can also store it in the freezer for up to 2 months.

        plate with salad inside

        Dessert ideas

        No-bake cheesecake

        When it comes to quick and wholesome desserts, there’s nothing easier than cooking no-bake cheesecake. Choose a non-sugared quark to make this dessert protein-rich, and add berries or sliced fruits, so your cheesecake will burst with nutrients.

        cake with strawberries

        Chocolate mug cake

        Did you know chocolate cakes can also be a part of a healthy diet? If you cook it with whole-grain flour, brown sugar, and unsweetened cocoa powder, this cake will be low in fats and calories. And what’s more, you can make it even with the busiest schedule. Just 10 minutes in the microwave are enough for your soft and melting cake to be ready. Then, add some walnuts to increase its protein and healthy fats contents, and decorate with blueberries to make it more nutrient-rich.

        Fruit and granola parfait

        Parfait is a perfect quick and healthy dessert with a light texture, juicy fruits, and creamy yogurt. You can choose berries or fruits or mix both to get more nutrients. Greek yogurt will provide you with enzymes, protein, and calcium. And crispy granola energizes you for a long time as it’s high in fiber and complex carbs.

        Drink ideas

        Avocado and spinach smoothie

        Plain yogurt and avocado make this smoothie a tremendous nonfat and low-sugar drink you can prepare in the blink of an eye. And such superfoods like bananas and spinach will turn them into power drinks that boost energy and promote a healthy diet. 

        Chia lemon tonic

        Chia seeds mixed with water turn into gel and support digestion. This tonic is something when it comes to promoting your gut health. And lemon juice works as a powerful antioxidant and immunity booster.

        Ginger and honey tea

        Suppose you want to stay healthy during mid-season periods and strengthen your immunity. In that case, there’s nothing better than this heartwarming ginger and honey tea. Ginger is widely famous for its medicinal properties, while honey is an excellent antioxidant and vitamin powerhouse.