Nutrition to Fuel Your Days
By Dr. Stacia D. Kelly, PhD, MH
Diet. Nutrition. Weight Watchers. Atkins. The Zone. With so many experts out there, it can be hard to figure out the truth for ourselves when it comes to what we should be putting into our bodies. Yet, we hear it everywhere, ‘you are what you eat’. Our days are packed with work, working out, meetings, friends and family, the list goes on. It makes nutrition the last thing on our minds. We’re young, we’ll live forever…and whatever we’re eating, our body just burns anyway, so what does it matter? Fast food it is! And drinks out with the guys? Sure, let’s go!
And then…a few years down the road…your age catches up with the rest of you. It happens to us all. We start moving a little slower in the morning. The night out of drinking or staying up late working seems to affect us a little more the next morning. Perhaps it’s time to take a quick check and figure out how to fuel our days now, so we don’t have to deal with the repercussions in our 30’s and 40’s and beyond.
The body needs fuel. Our society’s idea of fuel is whatever is quick and calorie-laden, but too many of the choices out there are lacking in nutrients. You can eat one meal at any given restaurant and burn through most of your calories for the day, and that’s just a salad. As much as we’d all like to think a calorie is a calorie, it just isn’t that way.
Then, what to eat when you’re on the go?
Make the change to drinking water! You’ll be glad you did. If you’re feeling hungry, try a glass of water first. Many people are walking around in a constantly dehydrated state and are unaware they’re thirsty. Carbonated sodas leech the calcium from your bones, making them more brittle as we age. Diet sodas with their no-cal sweeteners have been connected to weight gain and slowed metabolism. And alcohol? Empty calories with little benefit to the body. Exception: a glass of wine here or there is reported to be good for the heart. And no, the one cup of coffee a day doesn’t have to go away as long as it’s not loaded down with sugar or artificial sweetener. Teas are a great way to get your water in for the day: greens, blacks and whites are all great for your body and mind.
Chicken, fish, and other lean meats. Almost every restaurant has grilled chicken on the menu; ask for it without the sauce and instead try some other seasonings. The same for your other meats. Sauces contain extra calories and can mask the good flavor of the food you’re eating. If possible, learn the art of eating sushi! Raw fish is an excellent source of muscle-building protein. A great quick fix: a tuna sandwich (whole wheat or spelt bread) with veggies and a low fat mayo. Although, if you’re headed out to do cardio…don’t worry about full fat mayo, just grab it and go! You’ll burn it off. (Focus on the sugars, not the fats, the fats you’ll burn.
Fruits & Vegetables
Eat more of them and more often! The best fruits to look for to increase your energy: apples, apricots, berries, grapefruit, kale, kelp, lemons, peaches, peas, and pears – and that’s just the short list. For more vitamins and to increase your immunity to illness and disease: beans, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, eggplant, figs, flaxseeds, miso, mushrooms, olives, seeds, soy, spinach, sweet potatoes, and zucchini. Learn to love hummus, it works great as a veggie dip.
There are a variety of spices and seasonings that add great flavor to foods; try a few and see which ones you like the best. Grill your chicken or fish with some sea salt and some oregano; without a sauce on the foods, you might be surprised at the wonderful taste these additions can make. Reach for the mustard rather than mayonnaise or ketchup.
Remember to get your metabolism moving by eating breakfast and then eating small meals every 2-3 hours throughout the day. Shortchanging yourself on a meal actually slows your body down and causes you to retain the weight.
But I need something NOW!
When in doubt, and you really need a quick fix, try to find a low sugar protein bar as you’re sprinting through the gas station. It will give you that extra energy kick you need for the next few hours and help keep you moving. Primer recommends Pure Protein and Doctor’s Carbrite Diet bars, (both can be found on sale for a dollar or less).
|Anytime Pick Me Up Energy Drink|
You’ll notice as you start making these changes that you’re able to skip that mid-afternoon lull and sugar craving because you’re keeping your body functioning at optimum speeds. The more fuel you give it – of better quality – the better you’re able to keep up with your day, your date and your buddies!
Stacia D. Kelly, PhD, MHt, owns a private Holistic Health practice in Northern Virginia. She is a freelance writer, artist, martial artist, wife and mother who loves living life and helping others reach their potential.