Enjoy this post in celebration of Eat What You Want Day (which was this past Wednesday, May 11). Yes, eating is important, even for the busiest of busy small business owners!

Forget Rachael Ray. Anyone can teach you how to cook a meal in 30 minutes or less. What busy business owners really need to know is how to eat a meal in 30 minutes or less.

As someone who works a full-time day job and operates her own freelance writing business, I know a thing or two about being pressed for time. In fact, I recently changed day jobs and went from having a full hour for lunch to having just 30 minutes to scarf down my grub.

At first, eating so quickly was a challenge, but eventually I learned how to plan for maximum convenience and nutrition. And last week, as I was eating my egg salad and fresh fruit, it occurred to me that others out there might be suffering from this same when-do-I-find-time-to-eat plight.

This post is dedicated to the perpetually rushed and the continually overworked—otherwise known as entrepreneurs.

Tips for Eating in 30 Minutes or Less

1. Have your food ready and waiting. There’s no time for deciding what you want to eat when it’s officially meal time. The clock is already ticking. Make your lunch the night before or first thing in the morning, and eat what you pack—no exceptions. Staring at a menu board or waiting in line at the drive-thru isn’t as convenient as you imagined it would be.

2. Learn what foods can be eaten quickly. I won’t pack more than three baby carrots in my lunch ever. And it’s not because I’m afraid of veggies; it’s because carrots take a long time to chew! Now grapes and pineapple? Those can be eaten more quickly. (These are the kinds of things most people never have to think about.)

3. Cut things up. Do you know why moms all over the world cut their children’s food into tiny pieces? You might think it’s so they can fit the food chunks into their little baby mouths, but that’s not it at all. It’s because moms don’t want to sit at the dinner table for 4 hours waiting for their children to finish eating. Cut fruits and veggies into bite-sized pieces. Slice meats and cheeses too. (I’m sure there is a scientific reason why eating food this way is faster. It probably has something to do with surface area and saliva. For now, all you really need to know is that it works.)

4. Opt for foods with higher moisture content. To get what I’m driving at, time yourself eating, say, three ounces of cottage cheese and then time yourself eating six saltines. I’m not saying don’t eat crackers, just don’t pair them with peanut butter for heaven’s sake or you’ll be trying to swallow for a week.

5. Don’t multi-task. Instead of answering emails, returning phone calls, driving, and putting out fires on your lunch or dinner break, just eat. I know it’s a novel idea, but you’ve earned the right to an uninterrupted lunch. Forget the distractions for 30 minutes, and focus on getting your body the fuel it needs to make it through the day.

What favorite foods and prep tips do you recommend for eating a healthy lunch more quickly?

Image credit: jsnflo