It is important to pay attention to what you eat – ALL DAY LONG! Your diet includes everything you eat not just what you eat at meals. Awareness of your eating habits can be the magic bullet that brings better health in a short period of time.
Busy people tend to overlook the number of beverages and the type of beverages they consume each day. You may be careful about making healthy choices for lunch, but add a large Coke for your beverage – big problem. There seems to be a complete lack of awareness about the dangers of caffeinated and carbonated sugary drinks (all sodas, plus the particularly insidious “energy drinks”).
Large glasses of soda may contain up to 20 teaspoons of sugar and 300 empty calories. That amount of sugar is physically harmful for anyone and especially bad for busy people. Replacing all sugary sodas with a bottle of fresh water (best choice), a glass of sparkling water or freshly-squeezed fruit or vegetable juice are much better choices and will help avoid the “sugar high” and “afternoon crash” that come from unhealthy, sugar-loaded drinks.
Eliminating sodas, heavily sweetened coffee and sweet tea and adding lots of fresh water to your daily diet is a great first step toward building a healthier, more nutritious diet.
What About Lunch?
Having a nutritious lunch is another important, but challenging issue for busy people. Instead of running out to a restaurant or the nearest fast-food establishment, packing lunch for your mid-day meal is much smarter. This not only saves time and ensures much healthier meals; it also alleviates a lot of stress. You can use the time to relax and enjoy your food.
Fast food meals and restaurant meals taste good because they are packed with sugars, fats, sodium, and many taste-enhancing additives – none of which contribute to good health. When you live a busy, stressful life, you need nutritious food to fuel your body. Restaurant meals and fast foods do not provide healthy fuel.
In addition to being unhealthy, the average fast-food or take-out lunch contains 350 (or more) calories, plus the drink, making the total around 800 calories. Imagine how much better off you would be if you dropped 400+ calories from your daily intake. It is much easier to do that than you may think. All you have to do is start with small steps like packing and eating healthy lunches.
Don’t start moaning and groaning as you envision yourself eating salads day after day. You have many other choices, such as: wraps made with lean meats and whole wheat tortillas – an excellent source of nutrition for the busy person. Baby carrots and other vegetables served with a yogurt dressing, humus, or almond butter are delicious and nutritious at the lunch table. Whole-grain bagels and low-fat cream cheese make a nutritious lunch that is also very filling.
Packing a healthy lunch is actually easier than running out to a fast-food restaurant; it just takes a little more planning and some smart shopping.
And Then There Is Dinner
Dinner is often another difficult time for busy people, but meal planning can take the hassle out of creating healthy meals. Writing out a loose meal plan each week can help you stick to eating healthier foods even when your schedule is hectic.
Meal planning is a great way to keep yourself and your family on the healthy-eating track each week without taking up too much of your time. A plan removes the guesswork in preparing healthy dinners for those with overly-crowded schedules. Meal planning and shopping lists also save time and money at the grocery store. (More about this in the next post.)
Plus, if you do it right, you will have yummy leftovers that can be packed for lunch the next day. Two birds with one stone . . .
In an earlier post, we discussed the importance of a healthy breakfast and now I have added the challenge of eating a healthy lunch and dinner. It may feel like an impossible task; but, I promise you eating well all day long is important and well worth the time and effort.
Without good nutrition, you will not be able to keep up with your busy schedule and also stay healthy. Eating “out” for lunch and/or dinner adds up. It puts a dent in your wallet and endangers your health.
Making the effort to eat nutritious meals pays dividends – more than you can imagine. You will sleep better and wake up feeling more rested. You will look better, feel better, and be more productive than you have ever been. Good nutrition gives you energy that lasts throughout the day and creates a healthy lifestyle that will serve you well in your busy world.