Healthy Eating Tips for Busy People
Let’s face it, even with the best of intentions, eating healthy 24/7 is hard. It becomes even harder given the increasing demands of modern life, with most of us juggling work, family commitments and generally lacking time. In fact, the very thought of over-hauling your diet can lead to added stress. So how can you incorporate healthy eating into your life without making major changes? We spoke to Heather Lesson, Senior Nutritionist with The Wellness Crew to find out.
1. Eat Every Four Hours
A busy office environment can make it tempting to skip eating healthy meals in favour of fast food or snacks with a high salt or sugar levels. But in fact you need to eat every four hours, says Heather. “Leaving long gaps without refuelling can lead to dips in energy and concentration or even make us irritable,” explains Heather. “Mid-afternoon is when we’re most likely to experience an energy slump.” She recommends having healthy snacks like a piece of fruit, a handful of nuts, or a natural yoghurt on hand throughout the day. Oat cakes with nut butter are another option that can help keep your sugar levels at bay.
2. Go Green
We all know we should be eating at least five portions of vegetables per day and two to three pieces of fruit, but are you actually doing it? Research shows that most adults and children in Ireland are eating less than two portions of vegetables or fruit per day. “The benefits of eating the right amount of fruit and vegetables are enormous,” comments Heather. “From healthier weight, to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Eating enough vegetables also helps to feed the beneficial bacteria in our gut that plays a key role in our immune system.” She recommends eating a variety of fruit and vegetables, with as much leafy greens as possible.
3. Swap the Sandwich
One way to increase your vegetable intake, while cutting back on carbohydrates, is to switch up your traditional lunch. Instead of getting a sandwich everyday, try having a salad with cheese or egg, or a healthy vegetable-rich soup a few times per week.
4. Be Aware of Portion Sizes
It can be tricky and time-consuming attempting to measure the correct portions of healthy food to eat, especially when you’re on the go. A simple way around it is to fill half your lunch or dinner plate with vegetables. That way you’re less likely to over-eat on carbs and protein, and more likely to get some of your five-a-day.
5. Watch Out for Hidden Sugars
Most of us know that too much sugar is bad for us. It increases our waistlines, damages our teeth and increases the risk of chronic diseases. While we might try to limit sweet treats, added sugar can be hidden in foods we eat regularly. “If your usual breakfast is fruit juice, flavoured yoghurt and granola, you could in fact be eating more than 10 tablespoons of added sugar before you’ve even left the house,” explains Heather. “Instead of drinking fruit juice, eat a piece of fruit. Swap from flavoured yoghurt to natural yoghurt and add some fresh fruit or even a little honey. Examine the labels on the foods you buy most often like cereals, yoghurts and even bread. If you spot sugar in the first five ingredients on the list, swap that product for a healthier version.”