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Healthy Eating for a Busy Work Life

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Cooking / Recipes, General Nutrition, Heart, Cardiovascular & Blood Health, Mens Health, Sleep & Stress, Weight - Body Shape and Composition, Womens Health, Healthy Eating
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It seems that when life gets busy, eating healthy tends to be one of the first things that goes by the wayside. Do you find yourself skipping lunch then snacking on high fat / sugar foods to get you through the afternoon; drinking excess coffee or energy drinks to stay alert; unable to resist muffins, cakes and biscuits sitting in front of you in meetings or are you simply making promises to yourself daily to improve your diet but never actually doing anything about it? Several studies have shown that stress increases cravings for high fat or high sugar foods.1,2  But, when life gets crazy and stress is high, there is no reason to throw healthy eating out the window.

There are a few simple things you can do to stay on track:

1.     PLAN, PLAN, PLAN.

If you have a busy week ahead, sit down on Sunday and plan out your meals/snacks. Head to the supermarket, so you can have everything you need on hand. If you need ideas, we have some great recipes written by nutritonists and dietitans, the food coach and Catherine Saxelby also offers some great ideas. The tirck is to keep things simple and easy!

2.     Make time for breakfast! 

A healthy breakfast has been repeatedly shown to lower risk of obesity. Those who regularly eat breakfast also generally have a better quality diet overall. 3 So what is a “healthy” breakfast?  Breakfast should include a balance of whole grains, fruits/vegetables, and a lean protein source. An example would be a whole grain piece of toast with nut spread and a piece of fruit or some natural yogurt, berries, and a sprinkle of raw mixed nuts on top. Many people are afraid of eggs for breakfast, but it has been long proven that there is no connected between egg consumption and high cholesterol.4 Eggs are a great source of protein for breakfast and will keep you full until lunch!

3.     Stress food substitutes

Have cut up fruit, vegetables, or other healthy snacks on hand when the stress hits. For many people cravings pop-up in the mid-afternoon lull somewhere between 2-4pm. Instead of hitting the vending machine, pack some raw almonds, saltanas, home popped corn (not the one from the cinema), fresh fruit, whole grain crackers or veggie sticks and hummus, dry roasted edamame, or low-fat natural yogurt to help get you through those challenging hours. Although M&Ms might sound good, the sugar high might make you crash later.

4.     Too busy to cook!

  For when cooking just isn’t going to happen, research ahead of time some healthier restaurant options that are close to home or work.  Although many restaurant foods are high in sodium, you can have a healthy diet eating at restaurants a few times a week. Pick restaurants that offer, steamed vegetables, or brown rice. A few suggestions may include Japanese sushi and sashimi, cafes where they make your sandwich fresh so you can see what is added - chose wholgrain bread. If you are at a pub, try grilled fish or grilled lean cuts of meat with veggies or salad and no chips. Remember to get salad with the dressing on the side so you choose how much goes in. 

Many people think they are hungry when really they are thirsty so it’s important to maintain your fluids during the day. Water and herbal teas are best. If you must drink when you out for regular work lunches and dinners, try to drink water between glasses and enjoy one really good glass of wine slowly.

It’s easy to fall into old and unhealthy habits when we are busy or stressed. But, if you think ahead, plan a little, and take the week one healthy choice at a time, it can be easy to stay on track even through the busiest weeks.       


References:

1.     Oliver and Walder, 1999

2.     Zellner, Loaiza, et al. 2005

3.     Ortega, Requejo, et al, 1998

4.     Morgan, Zabik, Stamply, 1986

 


Useful Links:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0031938498003229

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0031938406000424

http://www.jacn.org/content/5/6/551.short

http://www.ajcn.org/content/36/4/617.short

 

Healthy Eating for a Busy Work Life