We live life at a frantic pace these days. The relentless demands of work schedules, meetings, errands, appointments, and the overlapping parade of children’s activities can sometimes make us feel as if we are being driven by a whip from one destination to the next. With no time to think, these brutal schedules are often fuelled by fast food, coffee, and adrenaline. Unfortunately, the grab-and-go technique leads to bigger problems when the caffeine and blood sugar levels crash later in the day, resulting in fatigue, irritability, and potentially bigger health woes. Proper nutrition may seem like an unreachable goal for the always-rushed, but the benefits of that extra bit of effort are worth it. Here are some nutritional tips for keeping your busy day well fuelled.
Plan ahead for your own “fast food”
When we’re out of time we often resort to eating whatever can be obtained the fastest, which is usually derived from a plastic bag or a drive-through window. Try making healthier snacks, such as fruit and nut mixes or single-serve peanut butter packs for dipping celery or carrots, and have them ready to grab out of the fridge up to a week in advance. Lean, protein filled burritos made with eggs, beans, or chicken can be frozen in bulk to toss in the microwave in a pinch. For quick snacks, especially if you have kids, keep a small variety of whole grain or vegetable crisps handy in your vehicle to curb the temptation of pulling into a fast food joint.
Go easy on the coffee
While you may drool in anticipation of that first cup o’ joe in the morning, use restraint. Caffeine can be a helpful stimulant, but front-loading it early often leads to a deep lag in energy later on. Limit yourself to two cups in the morning (and four for the whole day), or consider alternatives such as green tea or matcha, which deliver less caffeine per ounce and offer several other health benefits as well.
Focus on whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats
The quality of the food you choose to eat throughout the day can have a huge impact on the quality of your day as well. Whole grain products (those with the husk intact) such as oatmeal, brown rice, or barley, are composed of complex carbohydrates that digest slowly in the gut, promoting steady blood glucose levels that will help you avoid a mid-afternoon energy crisis. Protein provides a number of essential amino acids that the brain uses to synthesize important neurotransmitters like serotonin, while the complicated structure of protein, like complex carbs, imposes a feeling of fullness and slow, steady digestion. Be careful to choose protein sources that won’t also overload you with fat. Egg whites, Greek yogurt, extra lean bison or beef, and black or pinto beans are excellent choices. Fat is the most energy-rich nutrient, issuing a whopping 9 calories per gram. While this makes fat a valuable source of energy, it is easy to go overboard, so fats should be used to contribute the smallest portion of each meal. The healthiest fats are the unsaturated variety produced by plant products, such as avocados, coconuts, and olives.
Go big in the morning
You’ve heard the old adage “Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dine like a pauper”. Turns out most nutritional experts are in accord with this one. Fifty to sixty percent of your daily calories should be consumed with breakfast. Loading up on a healthy, well-balanced morning starter will give you more energy, a better mood, a sharper mind, and greater endurance as you tackle a frenzied day. Consume balanced nutrition meals of protein and complex carbs and try to avoid foods made with processed white sugars and starches, which can sabotage your efforts with drastic blood sugar spikes and dips.
Busy schedules can be difficult to face every day, but doing so without energy makes the task seem unbearable. Arm yourself with good nutritional habits, along with a healthy regimen of exercise and stress relief, to make your busy life more enjoyable.