We’ve all been there. The first rays of the morning sun are streaming in through the window, the dog is barking and you’ve already hit the snooze button a half-dozen times. Suddenly you snap out of your semi-conscious state and realize you’re running late for work. Is it any wonder that a wholesome breakfast (not to mention preparing lunch or contemplating dinner) is the least of our worries? Lack of time certainly can be an obstacle to good health. With a little knowledge and creativity, nutritious meals for the entire family can be prepared with little effort.
Start Your Day off Right
Even before the alarm goes off, there is a step that can ensure breakfast success: preparation. It is the essential ingredient to eating well in the morning. Breakfast sets the stage for your appetite for the entire day. Many commercial cereals contain the equivalent of six teaspoons of sugar per serving! A carbohydrate-rich breakfast leads to cravings for sugar and unhealthy snacking later in the day. Some protein in the morning is critical for lucid, swift thinking and alertness. Combine a protein-rich food with a source of fiber to stimulate digestion, metabolism, and to balance blood sugar. What can we grab that is healthy, quick and easy while we’re running out the door? How about a boiled egg (free-run, of course), sliced organic red peppers (that were prepared the night before) and a slice of whole grain toast? Some plain yogurt with fruit, or an apple with natural peanut butter will do the trick as well.
Healthy Eating At Work
Having the necessary food containers takes the guess work out portion control and keeps salads and sandwiches from becoming soggy. If a chicken salad is Tuesday’s lunch, then a re-usable tub with a press top dressing holder goes a long way. Make sure the tub is clean and prepare the salad the night before. Preparation is pointless if your lunch is left in the fridge. Place a reminder in a visible area to prevent forgetfulness in the morning rush.
On busy days there is nothing like low energy to slow the hard worker down. Apart from a good night’s sleep, eating regularly (every two to four hours) will help keep energy levels (and metabolism) up. If a nap is not in the picture, most of us head for the coffee or vending machine. Instead of reaching for the chocolate bar or potato chips, arm yourself with convenient healthy snacks. Green drinks (“green” because they’re often made with grasses, sprouted grains, vegetables and fruit) are packed with enzymes, chlorophyll and nutrients that will take energy levels sky-high while promoting mental acuity, improving digestion, and boosting immunity. Protein-based snacks are excellent options as well. Examples include yogurt with berries, rye crackers with almond butter and edamame (soy beans). An apple or some dried fruit can be eaten at your desk with no risk of spillage.
Resisting the box of donuts on the boardroom table during a morning meeting, especially on an empty stomach, is a daunting challenge. Be strong. Just say “no” to donuts. A whole grain muffin is a better option, and don’t be too shy to bring your own snacks to a meeting.
When the going gets tough, the chance of eating healthy diminishes. Often we choose to forego lunch for work. We know that isn’t a good idea, but what other choices do we have? A vegetarian pizza over pepperoni and double cheese, a baked potato over French fries, and soup & salad over a burger are good places to start. An average order of fries provides 500 calories. Eating fries with your sandwich on weekdays provides an extra 2,500 calories per week. That is almost a pound of fat gained in one week! Luckily, restaurants and grocery store salad bars offer better options than ever before. Spinach salads topped with chick peas, multigrain pizza crusts, grilled chicken on whole grain bread, and wraps stuffed with grilled veggies are great (and fast!) lunch options for those on the go. Avert unhealthy lunch choices altogether with a little forethought. When making dinner, cook double the amount and pack half for lunch for the next day.
Shopping & Stocking
Prepare a list of healthy, portable snacks and shop for groceries on the weekend so that food is available when you need it. A fridge full of food will keep you away from the drive-thru. Stock up on healthy dips like hummous, tzatziki, babaghanoush and red pepper purée as spreads for snacks, sandwich spreads and vegetable plates. Keep cupboards stocked with whole grain rice, pasta, whole wheat couscous (cooks in one minute), dried and canned beans, and dried fruit. When veggies are getting ‘soft’, chop, and toss them into a roasting pan with some herbs and drizzle with a little olive oil. They’ll make a great sandwich filling for tomorrow’s lunch.
In this fast paced business world, taking time to eat healthy becomes less of a priority. With a little bit of time and preparation, nutrition can be made part of a busy schedule.