Guest Author - Meredith Ball
Never before has eating healthy food been easier. One might debate this statement given the surplus of McDonald’s and other fast food dining options nearby any and everybody. Yet, even though there are tons of not so healthy eateries, there are more and more healthy options for us. In addition, there is information about the food we eat. Whether it be Olive Garden, Panera Bread, or Burger King, the calorie and fat count is available to anyone who dares to take a peek. This kind of information was not available immediately to the average consumer even a decade ago. That means that now, the choice is up to you.
Knowing that fattier foods higher in cholesterol lead to health problems such as high blood pressure and heart problems, and having at our fingertips the information about which foods to avoid, we can easily opt for healthier eating everyday. First, the healthiest way to eat is at home. This is true in most circumstances as long as what you are cooking at home is prepared in a healthier way than at a restaurant. To be sure you are eating healthy at home, here are a few easy ideas.
1. Pack a lunch. A sandwich prepared by you on whole grain bread with organic turkey (nitrate-free), fresh spinach and tomato will provide you more energy than that fried chicken sandwich from the local workplace diner.
2. Eat a full breakfast. That doesn’t mean slather cheese on bacon and fry it in a pan, although that may sound tempting to some. A breakfast packed with protein and vitamins will energize you for the day. Some ideas include a vegetable egg omelette, whole grain toast with peach preserves, or a fruit smoothie made with bananas, blueberries and yogurt.
3. Snack during the day. The workplace vending machine does not provide healthy snacking acquisitions. Instead, bring a piece of fruit to work to eat mid-morning, and a granola bar to eat in the afternoon. You will find that these will give you a boost of energy. If you have breaks that are long enough, eat that piece of fruit after you head out for a brisk walk. If you bike to work, be sure to have a healthy snack immediately upon arrival to replenish your energy levels.
4. Dinner is a delicious ending to a wonderful day. Treat yourself well at the end of the day. Preparing a vegetable stir fry with tofu or chicken only takes about twenty minutes and will leave you much more satisfied than a two-thousand calorie burger and fries consumed on the commute home.
After dinner noshing is the usual downfall. While difficult to avoid, there are substitutes for the after dinner eating that can occur. Most people find that eating unhealthy snacks occurs at night while watching television. Choose a bowl of grapes or freshly popped popcorn (no butter or salt) to munch if you will watch television. Or read, hop on your treadmill, or call to talk with friends instead as a way to fill up your evening with healthier alternatives. Again, these activities give you the fuel you need and provide you with more fulfilling activities as well.
5. It is okay to eat foods that are not the healthiest choices. Balance is key in setting up any type of lifestyle choice. Eating healthy is not a diet. Dieting usually implies restrictions and sacrifice. Eating healthy is not a sacrifice at all. Once you begin to create a healthy eating lifestyle you will only see opportunity. It is okay to eat the piece of chocolate cake, ice cream cone, or piece of pizza. Once you begin to eat healthy foods you will find that you no longer crave those heavier foods, and that you enjoy them more as treats every once in a while.
Treat your body well and you will be able to perform better at any activity you choose. Your brain will thank you for the omega 3s you ingest instead of the fatty french fries, and your heart will thank you for the raw veggies you consume instead of the bag of potato chips. The food we eat is a joy and healthy fuel for us, a celebration of our wellness.