WHILE the majority of us have a reasonably good idea of what constitutes a healthy eating plan, sometimes life gets in the way of it. Knowing the best quick and easy food options for busy people is the difference between eating well and not. So what would a day of perfect eating look like for a busy professional?
To optimize your metabolism, you should ideally eat breakfast before 8 am. Rushing out the door with little more than a coffee starts the day off on the wrong foot. The best breakfast options that you can quickly prepare at home include low-GI oats or muesli with thick yogurt and fruit, an egg or baked beans on toast or even a liquid meal drink that you can grab on the way out the door.
If you have to purchase something on the way to work, a coffee and toasted sandwich on grainy bread fares pretty well nutritionally. Banana bread, Turkish toast and large, syrup-based coffees are high in processed carbohydrates and sugars and are not good choices.
If you have had a good breakfast, you should feel slightly peckish a few hours later. This shows your body is burning its fuel efficiently. Good snacks to have now include thick yogurt, fruit and wholegrain crackers with low-fat spread. A cup of green tea is also ideal. Drinking three cups of green tea a day has been shown to slightly increase metabolic rate.
Lunch is when things can start to go wrong. If you have not eaten enough food throughout the morning, you may notice that now is when you start to crave sugar. To help manage these cravings, and to avoid snacking on fatty, sweet foods, ensure your lunch contains a good amount of vegetables and protein. Plain ham or cheese sandwiches, tuna salads or vegetable soups are all light options but do not contain the bulk that is required to keep you full. Rather try tuna, salmon or chicken salads with beans or grainy bread, soups with crackers and tuna or a small chicken or mince pasta with salad.
If you have had a well-balanced lunch, you should be satisfied until mid-afternoon, when you should eat something light before you get over-hungry in the late afternoon and raid the pantry before dinner. Nuts offer essential fats and are filling. Try a nut-based snack bar or nut spread on wholegrain crackers. If you crave sweet foods, try a low-fat hot chocolate.
Eating dinner late is one of the biggest mistakes we make, but it is sometimes inevitable, with long working hours and commutes. Keep your dinner lighter, the later you find yourself eating it, with light grills, vegetables and salads. If you often eat after 8 pm, have a light dinner of soup or salad and a heavier, main meal at lunchtime.