Our world and lifestyles have changed a great deal over the past decade. Ask anyone
what they think is different now compare to 10 years ago, and they will likely tell
you they have less time, more stress and they are working harder than ever.
Constantly feeling rushed or stressed is something that tends to creep up on you,
until one day you suddenly realize that life is not quite the same as it used to be.
When we are busy or stressed, we tend to make poor nutritional choices, and that can
actually make us feel even more stressed. Poor food choices can cause other health
related problems as well which causes even more stress.
The following tips will help you create a healthier diet even if your time is
limited and your stress is overwhelming.
* Eat breakfast: Having breakfast helps you stay alert and keeps you productive throughout the morning. While eating something for breakfast is better than having no breakfast at all, aim to include a good source of protein. Protein sources include yogurt, low fat cheese, eggs, or even something unconventional such as last night’s leftover chicken! For peak performance also include a good source of protein for lunch and dinner too.
* Go for the whole grains: Choose the right carbohydrates and you will have a steady supply of energy throughout the day. Your body prefers to use carbohydrates as its primary fuel source. Choosing whole grain carbohydrates instead of those made with refined flours or sugar can supply a steady source of glucose for your
brain and other vital organs without spiking your blood sugar. Whole grains have more vitamins, minerals and fiber, compared to refined carbohydrates.
* Watch the caffeine: Having that cup of coffee in the morning can improve your reaction time, give you a burst of energy and help your concentration as well. Unfortunately, more coffee does not result in more energy or better concentration.
One cup too many can make you feel jittery, upset your stomach and make it harder to
sleep. Learn your limit for caffeine and stick with that. The best beverage for the rest of your day is water!
* Choose the right fats for your brain: Our brains are more than 60% fat and nerve cells in the brain constantly require renewal of the cell membranes. Feed your brain healthy omega-3 fatty acids that come from foods such as salmon, other types
of fatty fish, walnuts, or ground flax seed. Omega-3 fats can enhance brain function, help with mood stability and slow down age-related cognitive decline.
* Take along the best snacks: Have healthy snacks in your car or office to keep your appetite and blood sugar steady all day long. Prevent mood swings or fatigue by including a healthy snack mid-morning or mid-afternoon. Consider pairing up a
protein rich food with a nutritious source of carbohydrate. A piece of fresh fruit with a low-fat cheese stick or raw vegetables with hummus provide carbohydrate, fiber and protein.
* Bring the right foods home: It’s much easier to avoid empty calorie foods if you don’t have them in plain sight calling your name! Keep a variety of healthy snacks that you like at home and ditch the foods that have little to offer by way of nutrition. If you don’t have sugary or salty snack foods around, you won’t have to eat them. Fruits, raw vegetables, yogurt, low fat cheeses, and nuts are just a few examples of things to have on hand.
Make healthy eating a part of your busy lifestyle and stress management plan. Work in these healthy habits on a regular basis and your body will feel the difference!
© 2010 Gretchen Scalpi. Gretchen Scalpi is a Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator and author of “The Everything Diabetes Cookbook, 2nd ed.” Gretchen operates a nutrition practice in New Windsor and Beacon, NY. She also offers The Balance Program® in partnership with Real Living Nutrition Services®. Patients receive online weight management advice, regular coaching and guidance. Visit
http://www.nutritionxpert.com/home/the-balance-program to learn more.