Health

by Anne Laing and Tim Bean

Meals throughout the day

A body fit for business needs a steady blood-sugar balance. If you are constantly looking for snack foods, you are not eating enough meals.

Take your own meals and healthy snacks to work instead of relying on vending machines, cafeteria food or takeaways. Set up and follow a regime of eating small, properly balanced meals every two to three hours, not intermittent shots of refined sugar and processed carbohydrates that spike, and then crash, your energy! If your work situation doesn’t permit a number of small meals throughout the day, at least allow time for lunch – refuelling is vital!

Avoid

A little of the wrong food on a regular basis can severely hamper your efforts to reach your goal weight.

  • Processed and packaged foods are called ‘anti-nutrients’ for good reason. They literally attack your stores of nutrients and change your health for the worse. Studies have also found that people become depressed more quickly by eating processed foods.
  • Of all the foods consumed today, refined sugar is one of the most harmful – and it is hidden everywhere. Check labels for ingredients ending in ‘-ose’, the suffix for sugars, and don’t eat if an ‘-ose’ appears in the first three ingredients!
  • A person who eats a diet of refined foods holds approximately eight undigested meals of food and waste in their intestines. A person who eats a high-fibre diet holds approximately three undigested meals.
  • Don’t go for diet or ‘lo-fat’ counter salads and pre-packed lunch meals unless they contain less than five grams of fat in total for the complete meal. Coleslaw, Greek, Nicoise, and potato, pasta or rice salads are the worst culprits for hiding oils and fats.
  • Many vegetarian foods, such as quiches, are very high in cheese, fats and oils.
  • Avoid fatty, high-carb foods. Keep them out of sight. The closer they are, the more likely you are to eat them.
  • Fried foods require a great deal of the body’s energy for digestion, and this diverts blood and oxygen flow away from the brain.
  • Don’t be tempted by the croissants, canapés, biscuits, cakes and savouries served in meetings: they pack a whopping calorie punch. Yeast and wheat are a problem: they make you crave more and create carbonic gas, which produces puffiness, saggy skin and acne.
  • Stay away from the office birthday treats – it’s not a special occasion when every day there’s always someone having a celebration!

At home

  • Little snacks that people mindlessly eat while watching TV, reading or with a cup of coffee can easily add up to a day’s worth of calories and fat... without providing a day’s worth of nutrition!
  • Don’t eat your largest meal at night; this over-stimulates the digestive system and releases hundreds of calories into the bloodstream that you won’t have time to work off.
  • Avoid taking an alcoholic or caffeinated nightcap: it will just pep you up and throw off your sleep.

Eating out

  • If possible, reserve dining out for special occasions, such as a birthday or an anniversary. If you’re dining out late, be sure to eat a light and balanced meal at home before you go. This will remove the urge to overeat from hunger or be less than careful with your choices.
  • At a restaurant, ask the server not to provide a bread basket or dinner rolls when you order. Deleting the bread means you won’t be needing the butter, which removes a huge temptation and source of extra calories.

Towards good eating habits

We are becoming pharmaceuticalised. We are being made to think good food is somehow alternative! That’s because good health doesn’t make money for pharmaceutical companies.

It is a myth that eating performance food is sacrificing pleasure. You actually get the most mojo – the greatest get-up-and-go – from eating slow-releasing foods, such as lean proteins, fresh fruit and lots of vegetables.

  • Always design your meal from a coloured vegetable base, then add lean protein. You can’t go wrong that way – the beauty of having lots of coloured vegetables in the diet is that they are low in calories and high in fibre, which is not only great for weight-loss but good health also. Also, save up to 100 calories by reducing your serving size or leaving a few mouthfuls from each meal.
  • Don’t dismiss frozen fruit and vegetables. They are still nutritious. Buying your fruit and vegetables in this way also means you have plenty to hand and don’t always need to stock up with fresh produce every few days.
  • Boost brain power with vegetables (carrot, courgette, broccoli or cucumber) or fruit (melons, grapes, apples or bananas).
  • Low-fat mini pretzels are also intelligent options, as are low-fat soups, wraps, salads and sashimi (without adding rice).
  • Try vegetable juice, only 30 to 35 calories per 6oz glass.
  • If you feel lethargic or peckish between meals, try a protein snack. Protein contains tyrosine, which is converted into the alertness neurotransmitter, dopamine. A whey protein shake provides 20 to 30 grams of protein. A hardboiled egg is a protein-rich snack, as is a cooked chicken breast. Avoid protein bars: most are only glorified confectionary bars.

Because we need to slowly change taste habits for life, it can be a good idea to find a good ‘quick and easy’ low-fat, low-sugar cook book and try out a few recipes for something a little different. It’s an effective way of exposing you to an ever-increasing variety of foods and food preparations. Most recipes can be changed to leave out the extra butter, cheese and oil without affecting the end product too much. In some cases, it’s possible to substitute one high-fat ingredient for another that is lower in fat – crème fraiche instead of double cream, for example.

Tip

Beware of saboteurs and weight-loss foes! These are people who don’t like to see you change, as they feel threatened by it. Do not accept their perception of you.