At one time or another, you’ve probably skipped a meal or gone too many hours without eating anything. Doing so likely left you feeling sluggish, irritable and lacking physical and mental energy - not exactly a recipe for peak performance in work or everyday life.
While the occasional “off” eating day won’t sabotage your health, skipping meals habitually can cause low blood sugar levels that leave you shaky and dizzy. It also can set you up to overindulge when you do eat, tempting you to reach for nutrient-poor comfort foods loaded with fat, sugar and salt over more nutritious fare. This, in turn, can contribute to unhealthy weight gain.
Taking care of your body by eating nutritious foods is just as vital to overall feelings of well-being as your professional success. No matter how busy you are, these eating strategies will keep you healthy and productive throughout the day:
1. Eat early.
Starting your workday without eating is like driving your car without enough fuel. Even if you don’t typically eat breakfast, grabbing something simple like an apple, a hard-boiled egg, a super-food shake or an unsweetened plain yogurt and berries tells your body it’s no longer fasting and gives it energy to start the day.
2. Become a pack rat.
Before you shop for your weekly groceries, add some nonperishable snacks to your list that you can mix and match into 100- to 200-calorie packs to keep in your bag and desk drawer. Think raw nuts, dry-roasted edamame, whole-grain (and low-sugar) cereal, popcorn, unsweetened dried fruit and even dark chocolate chips.
3. Plan your eating breaks.
You wouldn’t start your day without a to-do list, so why wing it with your meals? Review your schedule while commuting and plan for an eating break every three to four hours. If you need to, set an alarm on your phone as a reminder.
4. Eat like a superhero.
To stay full and energized (and keep blood sugar levels steady) include the dynamic duo of fiber and protein with each meal and snack. Examples include a salad with grilled chicken, shrimp or tuna; whole-wheat crackers topped with almond butter and banana slices; a whole-wheat pita stuffed with hummus and cucumber slices; or a fresh fruit salad topped with low-fat cottage cheese.