Eating on a time budget

We all need to eat, but sometimes our busy schedules don’t allow us to. Christine Manga shares tips on how to eat on a time budgetit all comes down to preparation.


Louis E Boone said, “I am definitely going to take a course in time management…just as soon as I can work it into my schedule.” Does this sound like something you might also say? We live in rushed times: sticking to work schedules and deadlines; chasing after children; and road travel as part of work. All of these factors impact what, when and, if at all, we are able to eat during the day. Then add diabetes to the mix.

Having diabetes is challenging, there are things which need to be managed: taking medication, exercising and eating properly. Adhering to these will help keep your diabetes under control. Eating a balanced diet throughout the day is vital, as it assists to stabilise blood glucose levels. This may prevent hunger pangs and cravings which can lead to binge eating in the evenings.

A regular complaint that I hear from people with diabetes is insufficient time to eat during the day. So how do you overcome this? Preparation!

Why prep?

Knowing what to eat will simplify this task. It is important that you get food from all the food groups; carbohydrates, protein, vegetables and fat. Low-GI (glycaemic index of <55) and intermediate-GI (56-69) foods are a good option. Low-GI foods are more slowly digested, metabolised and absorbed. They result in a slower and lower glucose rise than higher GI foods. This allows you to feel full for longer.

How to prep

Take time to prepare food that will be easy and convenient to eat between meetings, sitting at your desk and even on the road (subject to safety). This should help you from feeling the need to rush off to the vending machine or stopping for takeaways. Be aware when buying ‘diabetic’ products; even though these products may be sugar-free, they often contain more calories and/or fat than ‘regular’ food. They also often have a laxative effect and tend to be expensive.

Here are some simple foods that can be easily prepared and packed. They can be eaten separately or combined.

  • Cook extra dinner in the evening, leftovers can be used in salads or sandwiches for lunch.
  • Wash, cut and peel fruit and/or raw vegetables into bite size pieces/crudités.
  • Cut or grate a small amount of low-fat cheese. Alternatively, pack small individually wrapped cheese wedges, rounds or sticks that don’t need refrigeration.
  • Keep ‘Lite’ varieties of packet soup on hand, these are quick to prepare.
  • Pop your own popcorn at home, add spices or cinnamon. This is low-GI and high in fibre.
  • Buy or roast your own seed mix. Sunflower, pumpkin, flax and sesame seed. Keep handy in small amounts. These contain healthy fats.
  • Small pots of low-fat or fat-free yoghurt. Add fresh berries, some peanut butter, nuts or seeds.
  • Lean biltong, pre sliced for easy eating.
  • Pack a peeled boiled egg.
  • Make whole grain sandwiches or wraps with any of the following fillings (cut into small manageable portion sizes):
    • Cheese and tomato.
    • Cottage cheese and peppadew.
    • Egg and mayonnaise with peppers.
    • Grated carrot and sweetcorn.
    • Guacamole and beans.
    • Tuna mayonnaise, cucumber and diced tomato.
    • Leftover meat, chicken or fish.
  • These fillings could also be enjoyed with Provita biscuits.

All of the above options will be easy to eat if you’re rushed and not able to take a dedicated lunch break. Pack water that you have flavoured yourself by adding fruit or cucumber. If you prefer flavoured drinks, stick to the Lite, Light or Zero options. Avoid fruit juice as it is usually high in carbohydrates and has a high-GI.

The preparation time will be worth it. Put very aptly by Benjamin Franklin, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

MEET OUR EXPERT - Christine Manga

eating time budget
Christine Manga (Post Grad Dip Diabetes and Msc Diabetes) is a professional nurse and a diabetes nurse educator. She has worked with Dr Angela Murphy at CDE Centre, Sunward Park since 2012.