General Nutrition

How to eat healthy when you’re busy and tired | Fay Nutrition

March 12, 2024

Written by Chandana (Chandy) Balasubramanian

Medically reviewed by Rita Faycurry, RD

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women's healthwomen's health

Key Points

  • Getting the right nutrition can be hard when you're busy and exhausted.
  • With March being National Women's Month and National Nutrition Month, try these easy nutrition tips for when you're low on energy.
  • You could also get virtual consultations with a Registered Dietitian for personalized support for tough days.

If you're a woman juggling work, family, chores at home, and caregiving tasks, you may have encountered a common piece of advice. It's well-intended but often impractical: "Put your oxygen mask on before you help others!"

In theory, it sounds good. But in practice, it's incredibly difficult when you're overworked, tired, and always busy. 

If you’re also managing chronic conditions like PCOS, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases or mental health issues like depression and anxiety, everything becomes more challenging.

After a long day, you might be too tired to do anything but sit on the couch, and that's fine. But how do you find the energy to continue with your tasks?

This National Women's Month and National Nutrition Month, here are practical Registered Dietitian approved tips on how to get the nutrition you need when you're busy or exhausted (or both!).

1. Have a game plan for low-energy days

Boost your magnesium levels

According to Registered Dietitian Rita Faycurry RD, “Magnesium helps the body use the Vitamin D we eat. It also helps regulate glucose and maintains muscle, nerve, and bone health. An easy way to get your magnesium is to add seeds to your meals, like sprinkling pumpkin seeds on oats or sesame seeds on Chinese takeout.”

Another option is to use organic nut butter or tahini (sesame seed paste in olive oil) as simple nutrient sources that do not require cooking or cleaning.

Increase vitamin D and B12 intake, if deficient

For an easy source of Vitamin D, consume eggs and fortified milk. Boiled eggs can be safely stored in the fridge for up to seven days.

Please note: Vitamin D is not magic; if you are deficient, boosting your Vitamin D levels can help you get more energy. Similarly, fatigue is a symptom of a Vitamin B12 deficiency. If your Vitamin B12 levels are low, taking B12 supplements or eating more meat, poultry, or dairy may help.

Find no-fuss protein sources

Have sliced lean meat available to eat without preparation. Consuming lean meat slices, with or without cheese, is a quick source of protein.

If you’re vegetarian (or just don’t feel like eating meat during some meals), canned beans, canned lentils, canned chickpeas, and even Greek yogurt are easy ways to get protein.

Depend on hassle-free fruits and vegetables

Keep easy-to-eat fruits like bananas, apples, blueberries, and strawberries available, depending on the season.

Consider learning a few sheet pan dinner recipes in advance to make an easy, nutritious meal for you and your family.

Make friends with your blender with 2-minute smoothies

Blend two apples or a banana with spinach and pumpkin seeds for a nutritious mix. Substitute apples or bananas with frozen blueberries for variation.

Here are a few other smoothie recipes:

The Green Smoothie

Pear and Spinach Smoothie

Eat leftovers for breakfast

Savory breakfasts may not be common in the United States, but are very popular in many countries. Many cultures make fresh, savory breakfasts or repurpose leftovers into breakfast. You could warm up leftover soup or make extra food at dinner to have for breakfast the next morning.

Ultimately, you are the best judge of what works best for you and your family. Be kind to yourself and use the routine that works best for you.

Bonus tip: On days you want to avoid more dirty dishes, stash eco-friendly disposable utensils near your refrigerator to use when you’re low on energy.

2. Add, don’t subtract

Research shows that dieters regain more than half of their weight back in two years and more than 80% of their weight in five years. Cutting out or restricting food groups may also lead to overeating or binges.

When we lose weight rapidly or consider eliminating our favorite foods, our bodies are wired to prevent starvation. Often, the brain increases hunger signals, leading to more food cravings for sugary, carb-loaded, and highly processed foods.

So, instead of approaching your food intake from a sense of deprivation, try adding more foods to the mix.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Dying for some sugar? Dip strawberries in chocolate as a treat.
  • Toss in dates or add honey to your green smoothies.
  • Rather than saying, "I won't eat cereal for breakfast," try adding pumpkin seeds, chia seed pudding, and apple slices to your cereal as a start.
  • If you like overnight oats, try savory overnight oats and throw your green smoothie into it for an easy and nutrition-dense breakfast.
  • Want a bagel for breakfast? Try adding spinach or lettuce and lean meat to it.
  • Making pancakes or waffles for the kids? Have one yourself with a side of fruit or a green smoothie. It’s better to eat breakfast than skip it.
  • Craving a burger or pizza for lunch? Try grabbing a side salad along with it or loading your pizza and burger with veggies.

Note: If you struggle with binge eating or an eating disorder, consider getting personalized support from an experienced professional. Fay can help you find a Registered Dietitian near you, covered by insurance.

3. Balance your meals over a week

When you're tired, perfection isn't the goal. It's more helpful to think "done is better than perfect" rather than seeing things in black and white.

Faycurry RD elaborates, “On tough days or weeks, roughly track how much whole fruit, vegetables, and healthy fats you eat weekly, and make small adjustments based on that. Incorporating whole foods in different colors can help you meet your nutritional goals.”

After all, if you wish, you can always optimize your nutrition when energy levels return. 

4. Get support from a Registered Dietitian

Your fatigue may be due to your schedule, but it may also be from nutritional deficiencies or underlying health conditions. Consider getting personalized advice from a Registered Dietitian.

With Fay, you can have a virtual consultation with a Registered Dietitian right from your home. If you prefer, in-person consultations are also available.

The views expressed by authors and contributors of such content are not endorsed or approved by Fay and are intended for informational purposes only. The content is reviewed by Fay only to confirm educational value and audience interest. You are encouraged to discuss any questions that you may have about your health with a healthcare provider.


Fay Nutrition has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.

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Chandana (Chandy) Balasubramanian

Written by Chandana (Chandy) Balasubramanian

Chandana Balasubramanian is an experienced healthcare executive who writes on the intersection of healthcare and technology. She is the President of Global Insight Advisory Network and has a Master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA.

Rita Faycurry, RD

Medically Reviewed by Rita Faycurry, RD

Rita Faycurry, RD is a board-certified Registered Dietitian Nutritionist specializing in clinical nutrition for chronic conditions. Her approach to health is centered around the idea that the mind and body are intimately connected, and that true healing requires an evidence-based and integrative approach that addresses the root cause of disease. In her books and articles, Rita offers practical tips and insights on how to care for your body, mind, and spirit to achieve optimal health and wellness.