I recently contributed an article to the American Dietetic Association Student Scoop, which is an online newsletter exclusively for Student Council members. There are lots of benefits of being a member of the American Dietetic Association but even if you aren't a member, there are a lot of great resources for the public. Check out Eatright.org to get the most accurate information regarding healthy eating.
As much as I LOVE writing articles, I love reading. I try to read in the evenings but usually I catch up on my newsletters and magazines on the weekends (or when traveling). There's nothing like finishing a 2 hour run or a 4 hr bike ride and laying on the couch, with my whey smoothie, and reading about nutrition. I feel really lucky to be a health and exercise professional and I am so happy that my passion for healthy and balanced eating, alongside daily physical activity, is slowly molding into my career.
Here are a few paragraphs from my article:
(Found in the March 2010 issue of The Student Scoop, pg. 6)
In order to stop making excuses and start being proactive,
use the following tips and learn to enjoy your lunch time
• Make extra food at dinner and use leftovers for lunch.
Use a variety of foods in a meal, such as veggies, potatoes,
legumes, beans, vegetarian meats, tofu, rice, pasta,
fruit, eggs and lean-meat, so that you can be creative
• When grocery shopping, buy foods for your house
which you can also use in a brown bag lunch. If the food
is in a can, frozen or boxed, always check for the lowest
• Don’t put it off! Make lunch immediately after you finish
dinner. If you don’t have leftovers, you can never go
wrong with whole grain bread, veggies, cheese and lean
meat (or vegetarian meat alternatives) for a quick and
• If you are a morning person, prepare your lunch while
the coffee is brewing. Or, make lunch as you are watching
the morning news.
• Be a role model for your family. With childhood obesity
increasing, teach your child to enjoy making his/her own
lunch, rather than spending money on heart-unhealthy
school lunches. Shopping for groceries and cooking
with children will teach them how to differentiate between
heart-healthy and heart-unhealthy food.
• Be a role model for your friends and co-workers. If you
already bring your lunch to work, motivate others to take
part in a brown bag social hour. If others are stumped as
to what to pack, pick a theme or style of food (ex. Mexican,
Italian, vegetarian, comfort food, etc.) and see who
can be the most creative with his or her own lunch.
Give yourself 30 minutes, three times a week (include
weekends) to chop, cut, package and wrap veggies, meats
and fruit. So long as you keep everything in a sealed bag
or container, you will have an array of options from which
to choose for a quick and easy sandwich, salad or wrap.
Get inspirations from restaurants, the internet, blogs and
the cooking channel. Come up with your own ideas for a
knock-off lunch meal with your favorite healthy foods.
Think simple! A 4 pack of tuna, a bag of pita bread and a
mixture of chopped veggies can go a long way. Spending
$5 to $10 on sandwiches, a few times a week will eventually
add up! If preparing salads for lunch, be sure to complete
your greens with a protein in order to keep you satisfied
after your meal.
Not enough time?
As an educator, student or credentialed professional, making
the effort for healthy eating is an individual choice.
While work meetings and overtime are often beyond your
control, it is up to you to make time for exercise, food,
sleep, TV, computer and social activities. Because exercise,
sleep and stress management are a few of the many
keys to a long and healthy life, stop making excuses and
start making lunch!
When planning your lunch, always think about the day. If you take the same thing to work everyday and it works for you (meaning, you are at a healthy, maintainable weight, you have energy throughout the day, you eat a variety of foods to create a balanced diet and you enjoy your food choices), GREAT! If you are constantly hungry from 2-4pm, you eat mindlessly when you get home from work (and until you go to bed), you can't seem to get your training nutrition down or you start your day with no or a quick digesting, low calorie breakfast, it's time to make some changes in your normal routine.
I find that many people are overly focused with life commitments and neglect the value of a wholesome and balanced meal. Sure, healthy food may help you perform better when exercising and may help you reach your goal weight but there are so many other benefits of planning healthy meals snacks. Let nutrition fuel your daily priorities. Ultimately, when you appreciate the value of healthy food in your body, you will see yourself becoming a better parent, worker/employee/employeer, partner (wife/husband/bf/gf) and athlete.
It seems as if people are doing the same thing every day (because they read it in a magazine or weight loss book) and hoping for results. How can you expect yourself to not overeat in the evenings if you are skipping lunch, fueling your day off diet cokes, salads and protein bars and trying to work out 15 hours a week? Sure, you think that reducing calories during the day will promote weight loss, but this is not a maintainable healthy habit. Even if you eventually reach your goal weight through unhealthy, unrealistic habits, you will eventually find yourself returning to old habits. Furthermore, if you are living an athletic lifestyle, your goal throughout the day is to provide nutrients to your body in order to stay energized, to maintain stable blood sugar and to properly recover.
I always tell my athletes, don't work your training around your eating. Rather, work your eating around your training. Same with food planning. Depending on your daily life commitments, create a healthy eating routine that will allow you to feel satisfied when you eat your meal, will provide you with an array of healthy nutrients, will provide energy for your workouts, will help you recover from workouts and most importantly, gives you enjoyment when you are eating.
If your working environment doesn't have a microwave or refrigerator, it would be wise to assume that you wouldn't bring soup and egg salad for lunch. However, this doesn't mean that you can't pack a heart healthy and filling lunch.
If your work requires you to be on the go or you have inconsistent eating habits during the day (ex. lunch can be at noon and other days it may be at 3pm) you need to create a meal plan that works with your schedule. Rather than eating breakfast at 8am and lunch at 3pm, create mini-meals and snacks so that you are eating every few hours. If you don't have a long lunch break or have no planning over your lunch break, plan for food options that can be eaten on the go or consumed throughout the day.
My dad works for the VA (he's an optometrist) and he typically eats lunch around the same time everyday. Karel, on the other hand is the general manager of the Trek store. If he is not ordering bikes, bike parts, accessories, etc. for the store, he is likely putting together bikes. When the store is incredible busy he is typically doing tune-ups for walk-in's alongside helping customers. According to the other guys at the shop "Karel is always eating". But for Karel, it works better this way. Rather than eating breakfast and then not knowing when he will eat lunch (or if he even has time for a break) he is better off preparing a bag of food that he can "graze" on throughout the day.
What is your favorite lunch to bring to work (or prepare at home if you work from home)?
A typical day of food for Karel at the Trek Store:
1) Some type of filling sandwich (Karel typically uses the Panini maker): Tofu, 1 egg (Scrambled), 96% fat free deli ham, veggies, cheese and hummus on whole grain pita bread
2) A smaller sandwich for a snack later in the day: typically PB &J. This time it was with apples, natural PB and jelly and sunflower seeds on an english muffin.
3) Chocolate: gotta have something sweet during the day and it may as well be good for you too. Around 1 ounce dark chocolate.
4) Low-fat yogurt: this is a must, everyday.
5) Veggies/fruit: whole fruit or cut fruit like apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, peaches, etc. Baby carrots and celery are easy to snack on when he is working (not with greasy hands, of course :)
6) Nuts: great to snack on during the day. Today it was sunflower seeds on his sandwich.