The Bible says your body is a temple, but let’s put it in slightly more 2018 terms:
Your body is a mansion. It’s that six-bedroom, five-bath behemoth by the lake that you’ve wanted to list for the better part of a decade. Suddenly it’s up for sale and you’re the listing agent. Everyone wants a piece of it, and everyone wants to see it. It’s your money-maker.
Now, how are you going to treat that mansion?
Hopefully well, because it’s the only one you’ve got, and you don’t have another one. It’s going to set you and your family up for years to come.
Of course you need to exercise. Finding time in your busy schedule may seem impossible, but it’s something you can do if you set your mind to it. But that’s a different column.
What we’ll focus on today is what you put IN your body, the food that fuels you through the closings and open houses and T-ball games and dinner meetings. Hopefully you’ll find some tips here to help you make the most of every calorie you put in your body, or at the very least a reminder that, when you eventually do sell that mansion, it’s definitely NOT going to be the guy working the drive-through at Taco Bell.
The most important meal of the day. Unfortunately, it’s the one most often skipped by busy adults. Stop this madness!
When was the last time you scrambled an egg? How long does it take? About three minutes. Buy a box of low-fat granola and a large carton of your favorite low-fat yogurt, mix them, and eat them from a bowl as you get ready. Take a (healthy) shake or smoothie into the shower with you. At the very least, grab a piece of fruit or a high-fiber, whole-grain bagel or English muffin as you fly out the door.
Protein is king in the morning, and eggs and low-fat dairy are wonderful sources of that. Bacon, sausage and other meats can provide the protein but bring along a good deal more grease and fat with them, so be wary. Things to avoid include sugary cereals, sugar-packed breakfast bars, instant drinks that are no better than a milkshake, and the entire roll call of brutal breakfast pastries: doughnuts, cinnamon rolls, turnovers and more. Not only are they loaded with sugar and fat, but even the carb-loaded bread portion will be long gone by the time you get anywhere near the lunch hour.
Tips for success: Schedule meetings in the morning, so you can control what you eat. Don’t rush into the office and get tempted by the doughnuts or muffins in the break room. If you find something non-perishable that’s healthy enough, keep your car stocked so you can eat on the go. If you have family members to get around in the morning, make sure they’re eating a healthy breakfast, too. If it’s part of their routine it’s more likely to be part of yours, and vice-versa.
The most difficult meal to control because, well, dang it you’re busy. Skipping lunch (especially if you’re a habitual breakfast-skipper, tsk tsk) isn’t really an option, so far too often you have to resort to driving through the nearest fast-food window and hoping no one sees you. It’s okay. It happens to the best of us.
But we all know what most fast-food is, and it’s not ACTUAL food, but more of a ball of cholesterol and preservatives that fills your belly.
So, how do you negotiate the time crunch? The ideal answer is to schedule around it. We should all be building in an hour or two of catch-up time every day, and that period from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. is a good option, if you can pull it off. This allows you to bring a healthy lunch from home – a salad, leftovers from last night’s protein-and-vegetables dish, or some lean turkey, mustard and whole-wheat bread you keep socked away in the office fridge. As with breakfast, the more control you have over your time, the more you have over your diet.
But often we have lunch meetings, or want to catch up with friends. And that’s okay too. Just keep a list of healthier restaurants handy, those where you can order a fresh salad or sandwich – or even something a little heartier – with ease. When it comes to the dreaded buffet lunches, you’ll typically have a salad option, and often a light side like mixed fruit or veggies. Pile your plate with that and skip the gooey casserole or pasta concoction bubbling over the Sterno.
(Note: If you MUST make a stop for fast food, try to find a salad – though they’re darn near impossible to eat in the car – or the least greasy sandwich you can. Common options include turkey or veggie options at Panera Bread, Subway or Goodcents. Order a small size, skip the chips and drink water. If a burger or chicken sandwich – or worse – is your only option, you’re probably better off running into a grocery store and buying some deli meat and yogurt.)
Don’t worry, we’re not going to tell you that you can’ t go to happy hour. You’re an agent. We get it.
But we ARE going to tell you to make it no more than an hour. The longer the drink the more calories you consume, and the more likely you are to snack on some jalapeno poppers or wings, which will undo every bit of dietary good you’ve done during the day. Hummus and veggies make okay noshes while you enjoy your drink, which ideally would be no more than one or two beverages.
Try to stay away from hard alcohol, especially the brown stuff. But even vodka and club soda provides a heavier dose of alcohol and stands a much better chance of wrecking your plan than a glass of wine or even a lower-carb beer.
Most nights, the evening is when you’re more in control of your schedule and hence your menu. Unfortunately, it’s also when you’re most tired, and ordering Chinese delivery is an attractive option on pretty much a nightly basis. RESIST.
You know what’s good for you: whole grain pastas with light sauces, simple baked chicken or fish recipes (or even beef, properly prepared) and steamed veggies. But those are tough things to decide to make on the fly. We suggest meal-planning every Sunday, deciding as a family ahead of time what you’ll eat each evening so there’s no question about what’s happening. Meats can be pre-thawed and rubs and sauces pre-made. Leave directions out for a spouse or teenager to get the meal started. To paraphrase an old adage: An ounce of preparation is worth a pound (many pounds, actually) of cure.