After a long day of driving, you pull into a travel plaza, looking forward to a delicious meal. What kinds of food are appealing to you? Do you head for the salad bar, the grill, or some fast food? And more importantly, do you shovel it in to appease your hunger, or do you take time to savor the wonderful flavors and textures of your meal?
Hopefully, you will take time to enjoy your meal. Rushing through a high caloric, low nutrient meal and washing it down with caffeine fills your stomach, but later your body crashes because you haven’t given it what it needs to function. This leads to more eating, even if you just ate, because your body is craving nutrients.
Food choice is just as important as relaxed dining. Did you know that some food items can contain as much as a full day’s worth of calories and sodium? Serving sizes have grown in the last twenty years. What appears to be a single food item is often a serving size that can feed two people! For instance, twenty years ago, a cheeseburger had 330 calories. Today that same “super-sized” burger can contain 590 calories. Add to that fries, soda, and dessert, and you could end up eating an entire day’s calories in one sitting.
And have you noticed the size of bagels these days? According to a brochure from the National Institutes of Health, twenty years ago, a bagel was three inches in diameter and had 140 calories. Today, the bagel has grown to six inches and contains 350 calories.
Everyone likes tasty foods. However, a study conducted by The Center for Science in the Public Interest found that foods advertised as stacked, stuffed, and topped, are the worst offenders. These foods, sold at national restaurant chains, can have as many as 2,000 calories, 68 grams of saturated fat, and as much as 3,000 mg of sodium!
The next time you stop for a meal, remember to look for food items that contain omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, tryptophan, folate, and other B vitamins, as well as low glycemic foods. These food items go a long way to satisfy hunger and keep your stress levels low. Watch your portion size and remember to eat slowly.
Here are some tips you can use:
• Have some avocado on your salad; it is a good source of fatty acids (the GOOD fat).
• Poultry (chicken and turkey) contains tryptophan, a mood stabilizer.
• Low glycemic foods (not full of sugar and starch) help you avoid sugar crashes and keep your mood even.
Search the Internet for a listing of these foods.
• Vegetables and fruits are great sources of fiber and minerals.
Here are some tips to cut your calorie consumption:
• Switch from whole milk to 2%, 1%, or non-fat.
• Use lettuce, tomato, onions, and pickles on your burger and eliminate the cheese.
• Split a bagel with someone, or eat an English muffin.
• Leave the croutons off the salad and use a vinegar/olive oil mixture instead of heavy dressings.
• Have steamed vegetables instead of starchy potatoes or pasta.
• Eat the pie filling and leave the crust.
The book Eat This, Not That is a good source of information in making better choices at restaurants and grocery stores.
Try these healthy eating tips for a week and see how you feel. Are you more energetic? Less stressed? Sleeping better? Let us know! Click here to comment.
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