By Dr. Deepa Agarwal, Dietitian/Nutritionist
It is not uncommon to see people sacrificing on healthy food and gorging on junk food, the primary reason being their busy lifestyles. In today’s world, where time is money, eating healthy has taken a backseat; this has led to an exponential rise in lifestyle-related disorders such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
However, as the adage goes, “There is always a way out of anything”. Likewise, there are certain healthy foods which you can always fit into your busy schedule. The entire concept of healthy eating is based on eating foods that are least processed, natural and wholesome. Applying this basic knowledge can make healthy eating a piece of cake! (pun intended) for you, no matter how preoccupied you be.
Here are few tips you should follow:
- Start Your Day Off Right, Eat Breakfast: Eating breakfast is important for sustaining energy levels and aiding in blood sugar management. Avoid eating a breakfast that is high in carbohydrates and sugar. This just sets us up for a blood sugar rollercoaster. Choose a healthy breakfast that is:
- high in complex carbohydrates (oatmeal, cereals, fruits, vegetables)
- high in fiber (whole grain cereals and breads, ground flax and chia)
- rich in protein (nuts, seeds, non-dairy almond or hemp milk, organic cow’s milk and yoghurt, eggs, quality protein powders)
- and provides good fats (nuts, seeds, avocados, healthy oils like extra virgin olive, flax and coconut)
- Stay Hydrated: This step is as easy as carrying a stainless steel or glass water bottle with you. Count how many times you fill it up. At least eight glasses of water a day will keep your energy levels high, your hunger down, your digestion smooth and your concentration sharp. When we are dehydrated, our bodies often mistake this feeling for hunger. Make sure to not drink water before meals as this can hinder digestion. Drink 20 minutes before and 60 or minutes after. Also, try and drink room temperature water because cold water increases gastrointestinal contraction and slows digestion down.
- Carry Snacks With You: No matter how long you will be out for, always have a piece of fruit or a healthy protein or nut bar with you. Eating every three hours will help to keep your blood sugar steady and decrease overeating at meal times.
- Befriend nuts: If you are hungry and are looking for a quick fix to curb that hunger spurt, remember, nuts can always be the trusted items at your disposal. Nuts are rich in heart-healthy fats and protein that reduce bad cholesterol levels (LDL) in your blood and promote satiety.
- Don’t rely on carbonated beverages and caffeine: High time you realized that there’s no substitute to water. Although a cup or two of a decaf variety of green tea on a regular basis can really work wonders in bettering your metabolism keeping you insulated from a variety of cardio-vascular health woes. Carbonated beverages contain sugar that can spike the body’s blood sugar levels and although caffeine in small amounts in not bad, any excess can make you feel restless and irritated.
- Include Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Starting from pregnancy to old age, omega-3s provides health benefits to every age group. Omega-3s are essential fatty acids — we need them for our bodies to work properly. One of their most important benefits is that they seem to have an anti-inflammatory effect. Omega-3s helps in reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke, cutting the symptoms of depression, hypertension, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), joint pain, arthritis, and chronic skin ailments like eczema. The intake of omega-3s has also been associated with aiding the body in weight loss, fertility, pregnancy, and increased energy.
- Effect of Trans Fat: Trans fats raise your bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and lower your good (HDL) cholesterol levels. Eating trans fats increases your risk of developing heart disease and stroke. It’s also associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Many restaurants and fast-food outlets use trans fats to deep-fry foods because oils with trans fats can be reused.
- Consume Fresh Green Vegetables: Whether you sneak them into a smoothie or serve them in a salad, leafy greens boast loads of benefits. Leafy vegetables are ideal for weight management as they are typically low in calories. They are useful in reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease since they are low in fat, high in dietary fiber, and rich in folic acid, vitamin C, potassium and magnesium, as well as containing a host of phytochemicals, such as lutein, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene.
- Eat Alkaline Foods: Use of foods which have alkaline effect, as alkaline ph of the body can activate the maximum number of enzymes and keeps one’s energy level at high peak thus lots of non-veg, milk and milk products must be avoided.
All of the tips outlined above are relatively easy to implement in your life, regardless of how busy it might be. Just remember the key to a healthy and balanced life starts with dedication, and if you’re just as dedicated to your health as you are to your busy work schedule, then you’re bound to succeed!