6/7/2013 6:00:00 AM Time pressures present diet obstacles
Eunice Mesick Health Columnist
Time limitations pose some of the biggest challenges to eating nutritiously. Here are some symptoms of the time squeeze and how to deal with them.
This behavior can damage your health and waistline. You'll eventually pay the price with sagging energy levels and the temptation to eat whatever is in sight. Skipping meals slows the metabolism, making it more difficult to lose weight. Eating all your calories at one meal overwhelms the body's need for fuel, forcing some of the excess to be stored as body fat.
Don't go longer than five hours without eating. Blood glucose levels drop, leaving you weak, fatigued and mentally sluggish. In this state, you're less steady physically and your ability to make decisions is reduced.
Drink a glass of milk or juice as a "mini-meal" that will give you nutrients and energy.
Try eating nutritious snacks to get through a busy day.
Eating on the run
As people hurry through the day, they often leave little time for eating. Fast food and other available choices don't always provide good nutrition.
If you can find time for coffee, you can give yourself a nutrition boost at the same time. Keep a ready-to-go snack/mini-meal beside the coffeepot. Keep a week's worth of easy breakfast meals stocked in the car, briefcase or workplace.
If you are forced to make quick choices of fast food, realize that the many choices range from fat-free to fat-intense. Some items can contribute a full day's intake of fat.
For lunch and dinner, salads are usually safe choices from a calorie and fat standpoint. Ask if vegetable sticks are available. Vegetable sticks will provide more nutrition than iceberg lettuce. Request low-fat dressing (or carry your own) and go easy since even "low-fat" dressings can contribute large amounts of calories.
Choose grilled, broiled or baked chicken entrees, and hold the special sauces and mayonnaise.
For dessert, request fresh fruit.
No time to cook
Many people hold the misconception that only foods prepared over a hot stove qualify as nutritious.
Cold meals as well as leftovers (safely stored and reheated) do qualify as real meals.
When using frozen entrees: Choose meals that have no more than 3 grams of fat per 100 calories (this ensures that only 30 percent of calories come from fat) and less than 500 mg of sodium.
Cook chicken in a crockpot. Make soup with the broth and some of the chicken. Use the chicken in casseroles, dice it for sandwich filling, or shred it to eat in a tortilla or a pasta salad.
Use partially prepared foods and pre-cleaned vegetables from the supermarket and diced onions and green peppers in the freezer section.
Cook double portions of casseroles and other dinner entrees and freeze for future use.
Health columnist Eunice Mesick can be reached at (928) 753-5066.