7 Ways to Eat Better for Busy Women
Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD
Busy women have a lot on their plates. Time spent caring for family, working, and managing a household can interfere with nutritious meals and snacks. In addition, the constant barrage of health advice can be so overwhelming that you stop listening because you don't see how you can do everything the experts suggest.
No worries. Healthy eating is not an all-or-nothing matter. Instead of pursuing perfection, visualize yourself on a path to a more balanced diet. Taking just a few steps in the right direction goes a long way to supporting energy levels and promoting better health. Here's how.
Power up with protein. Protein keeps you fuller for longer and also provides the building blocks for muscle to keep you strong and active. Fill about one-quarter of your plate with protein-rich foods at every meal. Include a variety of protein products such as lean meat, poultry, seafood, tofu, and legumes (beans) for the array of nutrients they provide.
Prioritize plant foods. Fall is a great time of year to take advantage of fresh, seasonal produce such as squash, Brussels sprouts, apples, pear, and pumpkin. Fruit and vegetables pack water, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, potent plant compounds that have been linked to a lower risk for certain chronic conditions. Pile half your plate with produce at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Go with the grain. Experts suggest eating at least three servings of whole grains daily, which is easier than it sounds: ½ cup of whole grain cereal and two slices of whole wheat bread does it for the day! Most people can have more than three servings without busting their calorie budget, and it's probably a good idea since whole grains are full of fiber, phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
Eat with regularity. Spread calories evenly throughout the day to maximize energy and prevent hunger that could cause you to snack on high-fat foods with few nutrients. Pack healthy snacks, such as Greek yogurt, dried or fresh fruit, nuts, and reduced-fat cheese for when you're on the go.
Mind your metabolism. Your body runs on the carbohydrate, fat, and protein in food; vitamins and minerals are involved in converting these calorie-containing nutrients into fuel your body can use. Include a daily multivitamin to be sure you have the nutrients you need to support metabolism.
Move around. Activity of any type is energizing because it increases blood flow and relieves stress. But you don't need to work out every day, which may come as good news for time-strapped women. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week, such as brisk walking. If you can't work out for 30 minutes at a time, exercise in 10-minute blocks. When the weather's bad, have indoor exercise alternatives, such as a gym or free TV work out shows.
Relish routine. We are creatures of habit, and our health benefits the most when we stick to a routine. Strive for consistency and plan for success. On weekends, determine your meals and snacks for the coming week, shop for the healthy ingredients, and schedule exercise.