Recently, I was at a community meeting where I knew no one. I was standing around the Southern Living type food buffet, indulging in some creamy, cheesy dip and crackers. As my mouth was full, someone greeted me and ask me what my profession was. I told them I taught at the local university. What, they ask? Nutrition, Health, Wellness classes, I admitted. Several apologized profusely about the array of dips and desserts, neglecting the fact that I was readily scarfing it down.
While we all know generally what good nutrition is, unless we have a plan and engineer our environment, it is easy to fall into temptation when we are surrounded by a toxic food environment - fast food on every corner, highly processed foods in the grocery store, and oversized servings. It is important to have the right choices available at home and at work, so you have delicious meals and snacks that are nourishing and prevent fatigue.
I have a new mantra or chant that I use to promote good nutrition. It goes:
5 – Fruits and vegetables a day. Fruits and vegetables provide fiber, a good percentage of your vitamins, and antioxidants. Studies show that people who eat more fruits and vegetables have much less chronic disease. During winter, buy large frozen bags and double your serving size of veggies or make a good vegetable soup.
4 – Or more servings of fiber. Choose cereals with more than 5 grams of fiber per serving. Try eating more whole grains like brown rice, bulgur, quinoa, and barley. These may sound unfamiliar, but they are easy to cook and tasty. Add black beans or any kind of beans to greatly increase your fiber.
3 – Structured meals a day, a healthy breakfast, less fast food. Don’t go longer than 5 hours without food or you will push your hunger and fatigue.
2 – No more than 2 times dining out per week. You may see dining out as a well deserved treat or relief from your fatigue. But when you eat out you get much more calories, fat, and sugar as well as less fruits, vegetables and milk than you would at home. When you cook at home, cook in bulk and freeze for later so that you can come home to a great meal after warming it up in the microwave.
1 – Portion size. Beware of oversized portions and limit to what is reasonable.
Almost None – Limit sugar sweetened drinks to almost none. A 20 ounce soda a day can add 20-35 pounds a year. Avoid energy drinks that add extreme caffeine to the sugar.
5-4-3-2-1-Almost None! I hope you have found some useful tips. And of course we need treats occasionally. But treats should be treats – eating well will pay off in the long run.