Top Chef Judge Gail Simmons Gives Advice On How To Eat Healthy With A Busy Lifestyle - Exclusive

Healthy eating can often be a challenge all on its own. Pile on demanding factors like a busy career, taking care of kids, or traveling for work, and maintaining a balanced diet seems like a distant, implausible aspiration. Take it from culinary expert and food writer Gail Simmons — she has been a judge on Bravo's "Top Chef" since the show began in 2006. The series has been filmed in various destinations across the globe, and for the past 20 seasons, Simmons has been traveling all over for filming, spending anywhere from four to ten weeks in each location.

She's also the co-host of "The Good Dish," a show that features easy-to-make recipes, money-saving tips, and effortless ways to eat well. As a full-time working mom, Simmons has a lot of experience with trying to stay healthy on the go while also making sure her kids get nutritious meals. In an exclusive interview with Health Digest, Simmons revealed her top tips for how you can eat healthily, even with a busy schedule, and discussed how nutritious eating starts at home.

Set yourself up for success

According to Gail Simmons, balance is everything. It's okay to satisfy your cravings while you also get nutrients from foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. But that can be tough, especially with a busy schedule. "Start your day with a routine, just like brushing your teeth," said Simmons. "Pop your vitamin, your Juice Plus+ chewable, whatever it is." Once you're assured that you've started your day with nutrition, you'll have a solid foundation to build on. 

It's also a good idea to keep your pantry stocked with staples and spices. Focus on things that are easy, affordable, and that add nutrients to a meal. For example, Simmons always has canned beans, chickpeas, dried lentils, dried whole grains, dried beans, brown rice, and quinoa in her cupboard, ready for when she needs it. Stocking up on these food items sets you up for a healthy meal when you don't have much time or energy to cook.

Simmons shared that she'll often gather up random vegetables in the fridge — half an onion, a couple of carrots, and some spinach — sauté them with a can of beans and some spices, and it turns out to be a tasty, low-cost meal. "It's about having the basics in your pantry so that you can build on them when you have the opportunity," she said.

Embrace kitchen time

Gail Simmons also recommends cooking in the kitchen as much as you can, and if you have children, trying to get them to join you. "The more time you can spend cooking with your kid, the more pride they take in the food they'll eat [and] the more open they'll be to try new things," said Simmons. Admittedly, she sometimes gets home too late from work to do it, but she puts in the effort when she can.

One night, Simmons made vegan chili at home, but her 9-year-old daughter was not interested in eating it. Instead of forcing it, Simmons just happily ate her own bowl of chili. Slowly, her daughter came around to the idea — it smelled good; then she tried a bite; five minutes later, she was eating a whole bowl.

Similar recipes have another plus: Meal prepping on days when you have time makes healthy eating feel easy on days when you don't have much free time. "A recipe like vegan chili or a nutritious vegetable soup or stew is the kind of thing you can make in a big batch," said Simmons. "It tastes better the next day." 

Global wellness brand Juice Plus+ aims to bridge the gap between what you should eat and what you do eat. With bars, chewables, and protein powders, the product is your answer to a healthier family.