Give some thought to your meals and shacks before you sit down to eat. Whether your time at home, at work, or somewhere in between, he sure you get the best nutritional value.
BREAKFAST AT HOME
Eating breakfast regularly can help you maintain your proper weight, get your full quota of daily nutrients, do your job well, and possibly even live longer! Take the following suggestions to make this important meal as healthy as possible.
Protein stimulates alertness and helps to stave off mid-morning hunger. To get enough protein, you may have to expand your concept of breakfast foods. For example, have cheese or cottage cheese with fruit or toast, or some beans or bean soup with cornbread
Limit the amount of fat in your breakfast. When having pancakes, waffles, or toast, restrict the butter or margarine to one teaspoon or skip it entirely. For a topping, try a fruit spread like pureed strawberries or unsweetened apple- sauce or apple butter.
Rather than a doughnut or sweet roll, eat an English muffin or a bagel.
When baking mufﬁns, use low-fat dairy products—non- fat buttermilk, nonfat sour cream alternative, low-fat yogurt—instead of the high- fat products.
If you would like to make pancakes, waffles, or muffins for breakfast but don’t have much time, prepare two bowls the night before-one with the dry ingredients and one with the liquid (refrigerated). in the morning, you need only blend them together and cook.
Vary your routine. Occasionally use peanut butter instead of butter as a spread. Have leftover pizza or poultry, a hamburger, or a grilled cheese sandwich.
When buying breakfast cereals, check the label to make sure you’re not getting too much fat, sugar, and sodium. As a general rule, the shorter the list of ingredients, the more nutritious the product.
Despite its reputation as healthy food, most granola is loaded with sugar and fat. Use it mostly as a garnish on unsweetened cereal or yogurt.
Rediscover hot cereal for cold mornings. In addition to the traditional fare of oatmeal, and farina, you might. try more unusual grains, such as bulgur, kasha, and couscous.
An important nutrient is vitamin C, easily obtained from many fruits and juices. Instead of the usual orange or grapefruit juice, have a cantaloupe, strawberries, or the exotic mango or papaya.
Here’s an easy, nutrient-rich dish: combine brown rice (leftover is fine if you haven’t mixed anything with it), dried apricots or other fruit, and skim or low-fat milk.
Here’s another: toast a slice of bread, spread with full-fat cottage cheese, sprinkle with cinnamon, add sliced fruit, and broil.
Bananas getting soft? Mash them and add them to your French toast or pancake batter for extra flavor and potassium.
BREAKFAST ON THE RUN
‘When you don’t have time to eat at home, take a healthy breakfast with you—for example, low-fat yogurt or cheese and a piece of fruit (perhaps a leftover baked apple), or even a sandwich.
For a fast-food meal with good nutrition, choose a small, fat-free bran muffin, orange juice, and skim or low- fat milk.
Beware of muffins that aren’t fat-free or low-fat. Today’s soft half-pound variety of mufﬁn has about 500 calories, most of the fat.
Steer clear of breakfast “sandwiches” with eggs and ham or bacon. These tend to be highly addictive.
Use whole-grain bread, a good source of fiber and minerals, instead of white bread.
Pita bread forms a large pocket that lends itself to imaginative ﬁllings—for example, hummus and chopped carrots; any salad combination; raw or steamed vegetables topped with lemon juice. And pita is widely available in whole wheat form.
Bagels, which are low in fat, aren’t just for breakfast. Top them with low-fat cheese, cottage cheese (perhaps combined with fruit), or salmon or tuna salad.
Forgo processed sandwich meats like bologna, liverwurst, and salami, which are generally high in sodium, fat, and cholesterol. Even turkey bologna and turkey salami tend to be highly processed.
When you prepare roast ham, turkey, or other meat or poultry for dinner, get in the habit of freezing what you don’t ﬁnish. When you need to make sandwiches, defrost one of these packages (see “Cold Storage”, for safe freezer time limits).
Remove all visible fat on roast beef. ham, or pork, and limit the quantity of meat you use.
instead of cheese or mayonnaise, use slices of vegetables or fruit to make a sandwich moister and tastier. Try bananas with peanut butter, and poultry with red peppers, peaches, or mangoes. Or make a chicken or turkey salad using chopped fruit.
You can also use herb pesto’s, low-fat ricotta spreads, and savory marmalade’s to replace mayonnaise, salad dressings, and butter on sandwiches. Or make your own dressing by blending equal parts low-fat cottage cheese and buttermilk, then season with herbs and spices, mustard powder, horseradish, lemon juice, minced garlic, or ground ginger. Remember that you don’t need a lot of dressing on bread.
Make sure you include some vegetables in your lunch. You can easily pack carrot sticks, celery, cherry tomatoes, cauliflower or broccoli florets, cucumber or zucchini slices, green or red pepper strips, or a small salad.
Pack sandwich trimmings, such as pickles, tomato, and lettuce, separately so that the sandwich doesn’t get soggy.
Beans provide protein, and their soluble ﬁber can lower blood cholesterol. Bring a can to work to have with your sandwich or add to your salad.
To keep a lunch chilled without a cooler, pack it with a frozen can of juice. By noon, your juice will be thawed and your lunch still cool.
The lunch you bring to the office doesn’t have to be a sandwich: toss together leftover pasta or rice with vegetables and a few ounces of canned chicken or tuna, or cubes of low-fat cheese and a low-fat dressing.
To keep sanuwiches fresh and moist, cover them with damp paper towels or a kitchen towel that has been wrung out in cold water.
YOUR CHILD’S LUNCH BOX
If your son or daughter won’t eat vegetables for lunch, send extra fruit and offer vegetables at dinner. Cut up fruits for younger children; they’ll be more likely to eat them this way. (Treat the edges of apples, bananas, and pears with orange or lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown.)
Involve your child in lunch preparations. Kids are less likely to pass up foods they’ve helped prepare.
Use left-overs—for example, spaghetti and meatballs or take-out Chinese food. Put hot foods in a sterile, wide-mouthed vacuum ﬂask that is easy to eat from.
If your child objects to mixtures, keep sandwiches simple—sliced turkey instead of turkey salad, for example.
Pack 2 percent chocolate milk mixed at home instead of having your child buy full fat chocolate-milk cartons (which contain more fat) at school.
Offer grains rather than white bread. Quick breads, such as banana-oatmeal bread, pita bread wedges, and low-fat crackers may also be good alternatives.
If your children resist switching from white bread to whole-grain breads, help them adjust to the new taste and texture. Start by making sandwiches with a slice each of white and whole-grain bread.
For a surprise, add a note or riddle to your child’s lunch box.
If you have access to a microwave oven, you can use it to prepare quickly many healthy lunches.
Place a potato in the microwave for 4 to 10 minutes, depending on the size. Add a topping, such as low-fat yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, or mock sour cream (see recipe box, page). Or try broccoli or other vegetables as a topping.
Here‘s a nutritious Mexican number: Soften a flour tortilla by heating it between paper towels on the high setting for 10 seconds. Spoon 1/4 cup refried beans (flavored with salsa, if desired) onto the center of the tortilla. Top it off with shredded low-fat cheddar cheese, shredded lettuce, and chopped green pepper.
You can heat up pasta dishes or just about any other leftovers in the microwave. Keep a set of cutlery in your desk for such occasions
YOU AND YOGURT
Be aware that some commercial yogurts are loaded with fat and sugar. Avoid fat-free yogurts and any thickened with cornstarch or sugary fruit preserves.
To control the amount of sweetener, use plain yogurt. Sweeten it without sugar or honey by stirring in grated, sliced, or whole fresh fruit — grapes, berries, bananas, plums, or peaches, for example. Or flavor it with vanilla, ground cinnamon, or almond or coconut extract. Add almonds for an extra treat.
Other good possibilities include applesauce, apple butter, raisins, and chopped dates, ﬁgs, or prunes.
Fruit-flavored yogurt drinks vary widely in both sugar and fat content. Still, almost any of these products is better than a milkshake made with whole milk and ice cream.
Make your own low-fat shake by blending yogurt with fresh or frozen fruit. You may want to add whole or low- fat milk.
For a tangy fruit-salad topping, use a low-fat yogurt like vanilla or lemon.
ls, it possible to have a healthy lunch or dinner at a fast-food restaurant? Yes, provided you follow certain guidelines.
Choose a plain hamburger without cheese, bacon, or sauce, a roast beef sandwich without mayonnaise, a skinless grilled chicken sandwich, or a slice of pizza without meat topping. Be aware that breaded, fried ﬁsh or chicken sandwiches have more fat and calories than a plain burger.
If you do have fried chicken, remove some of the breading before eating, Avoid anything described as extra crispy, which means extra fatty.
Many fast-food selections are high in sodium, and it isn’t always easy to tell which of the foods provide the largest amounts. If you have a meal at a fast-food restaurant, try to balance it with low-sodium choices for the rest of the day.
When you place your order, beware of “jumbo” and double burgers. Remember that large sizes of burgers (especially those topped with cheese), French fries, and milkshakes have hundreds of more calories than their smaller counterparts.
Order a plain baked potato (not cheese-topped) or mashed potatoes in place of French fries. Head for the fresh greens, fruit, and raw or lightly cooked vegetables at a salad bar. Bypass such high-fat additions as eggs, oil-drenched vegetables, cheese, bacon bits, and croutons. And go easy on creamy salads—potato salad, macaroni salad, and coleslaw.
Salad dressings are usually high in fat, calories, and sodium. Use them sparingly. Drink milk (almond or coconut milk, if available) instead of a milkshake.
If you ’re having your fast-food meal at home, add salad, vegetables, and fruit for nutritional balance.
OTHER DINING TIPS
Ask if the restaurant provides nutrition information. If so, use these guidelines to avoid foods that are high in fat, cholesterol, and salt.
Sandwiches made at delis, diners, and other eateries are often overstuffed with meat. Ask for yours to be prepared with less meat than usual, or else remove some of the meat from the sandwich, wrap it up, and refrigerate it as soon as possible.
Have your sandwich served on whole-grain bread (or bun or roll). When ordering toast, make it whole wheat, rye, or other whole-grain bread.
Think twice before having a diet platter if it includes a hamburger patty, hard-boiled egg, and cottage cheese made from whole This high-fat meal is no calorie bargain.
If you order a dish that comes with gravy, such as roast turkey, ask for the gravy—usually high in fat-to be served separately, so you can dole it out sparingly.
Most people think of dinner as the “big meal,” but you‘re somewhat better off having a light evening meal unless you dine early and remain physically active for the next several hours.
When making soups and stews, cut down on meat and add more vegetables.
You can also add vegetables, instead of meat, to spaghetti sauce. Roast them first until they brown and tender to give a more “meaty” texture and ﬂavor.
Practice portion control. Rather than eating six or more ounces of meat at a sitting, pare this down to a three to four-ounce serving—about the size of a deck of playing cards. Instead of having a large amount of meat and small portions of vegetables, reverse this.
When choosing a reduced-calorie salad dressing, be aware that many dressings have about 40 calories per tablespoon, which can add up quickly. Many of the dressings are also high in sodium (see “Dressing Your Salad,”).
When you are in a rush and want to keep dinner simple, buy cut-up, frozen vegetables at the supermarket. Stir-fry them and serve with rice and beans or over pasta.
If you or anyone in your family occasionally eats alone, prepare a full recipe for a casserole or other ma.in dish and for rice, potato, and pasta dishes. Then separate into individual portions and freeze.
Make your own TV dinners by freezing together single portions of entrees and vegetables. Label them with the date and foods included. if necessary for other family members, include microwaving instructions. (To ensure that you get a good supply of grains, add bread, rolls, or other grain sources when you sit down to the meal.)
If you rely on prepared frozen foods from time to time, pick them wisely. Read labels to keep your diet relatively low in fat, cholesterol, and sodium. A rule of thumb: buy commercial frozen dinners or entrees that contain no more than 300 calories and no more than 800 milligrams of sodium per serving (see “Getting the Most from Convenience Foods,”).
Keep a copy of your favorite cookbook at your office. This way, at the end of your business day, you can decide what to have for dinner, see what ingredients you need, and possibly even photocopy the list of ingredients to take to the store.
Dining alone at home? Make it exciting by trying new foods or a new recipe. Treat yourself like a special guest, with candles and an attractive place setting.
HOW AND WHEN TO SNACK
Have two snacks daily, mid-morning and mid-afternoon, in addition to three Well-balanced meals.
If you like to quantify things, look at your diet this Way, your three meals should contribute roughly 75 percent of daily calories, and snacks should account for the other 25 percent.
Like the rest of your diet, keep snacks relatively low in fat, high in fiber, and limited in sugar and salt.
Eating more often may help you stay svelte. When you dine on small meals frequently, say some researchers, you are less likely to accumulate large deposits of fat.
Pay attention when you snack. If you eat as you‘re driving a car or talking on the phone, you may consume a lot more food than you realize.
Snacking can help teenagers get the calcium they need to develop healthy bones. Cheese pizza and cheeseburgers (with extra-lean beef) are good choices. With a blender, teens can make their own milkshakes, another high calcium snack.
Eat pretzels, crackers, and other snacks from a dish, not from the bag or box, so you can monitor your portions. For extra nutrients, choose Whole-wheat pretzels and crackers.
KIDS’ SNACKS: DO’S AND DON’TS
Do limit the amount of junk food in the house. While there’s nothing wrong with an occasional handful of coco-late-covered raisins, it’s better to stock up on such snacks as fresh fruit, nuts, yogurt, and plain popcorn.
Do set a good example. How can you expect your children to be satisfied with an apple or a carrot stick if they see you ﬁlling up on potato chips and candy bars?
Do serve homemade snacks whenever you can. If you make your own cakes, cookies, and other treats, you can control the amount of sugar or fat used, and you can add healthy ingredients, such. as grains, nuts, and fruits.
Don’t use food as a paciﬁer, giving sweets to quiet children down. Neither should foods be used as a reward.
Don’t be afraid to set limits. If a child is clamoring for a snack you feel is not good, a parent should determine how often and how much the child is allowed to eat.
Don’t go overboard on regulations. Banning food completely will only make it more enticing to most children.
Here’s a quick way to check how much fat a cracker contains: just rub it on a paper napkin. If the cracker leaves an oily smudge, it’s likely to be high in fat.
Resist the urge for sweets by making tasty low-fat snack alternatives easily available. For example, place a tangerine or an apple on top of your desk as soon as you get to work. When the doughnut wagon comes around, seeing your mid-morning snack ready and waiting can make it easier to say no.
Keep the refrigerator at home stocked with tempting packages. Store leftovers-— turkey or chicken breast, or a favorite pasta dish, for example—in snack-size portions. Tell family members to help themselves.
Be sure to check the label before buying packaged fruit drinks and punches. Some are very high in sugar and corn syrup, a sweetener, and the juice content may be very low.
Try homemade yogurt pops to satisfy an ice cream craving. Combine six ounces of undiluted frozen fruit-juice concentrate with eight ounces of plain low-fat yogurt. Freeze in an ice cube tray or small paper cups. Place a wooden stick in the center of each cup when the mixture is partially frozen.
Stock the refrigerator with an assortment of plain soda water and flavored varieties. Get in the habit of making your own punch, combining fruit juices and seltzer.
Fill a candy jar with low-fat cereal. it’s as crunchy as some popular candy but lower in fat and calories.
For an easy snack that supplies fiber and assorted vitamins and minerals, freeze seedless grapes and bananas (whole or chunks). Put peeled bananas in foil or sealed plastic bags.
For a snack that can be prepared in a few seconds, take a cup of unsalted pretzels and break them into bite-size pieces. Combine them with a cup of unsalted roasted peanuts, a cup of raisins, and half a cup of unsalted sunflower seeds. Store in an air-tight container. Makes 12 servings, approximately 1/4 cup each.
FUEL UP FOR EXERCISE
For a reliable energy boost that provides fuel in the form of carbohydrates, eat a hard roll, pita (pocket) bread, a bagel, or other low-fat, low-sodium bread.
Everyone who exercises regularly should use the food pyramid guidelines to get plenty of whole-grain bread and cereals, vegetables, and other complex carbohydrates. The body converts these carbohydrates to glucose, which, stored as glycogen, provides the primary fuel for muscles.
“Energy bars” by any name (sports bars, power bars, and nutrition bars) won’t boost your athletic performance. As a rule, these bars won’t give you more energy than any other high carbohydrate snack. Some are low in fat, but others contain as much fat as a chocolate bar.
it’s a myth that eating a sugary snack right before exercising will boost your energy. The sugar in candy bars does raise blood glucose levels, but it provides energy for a relatively brief period.
For family members who work out regularly, post on a kitchen bulletin board a list of suggested snacks. Some that are high in iron, which is essential for healthy blood and muscles, are dried apricots, iron-fortified breads and cereals, nuts, and sunflower seeds. For calcium, which is needed for strong bones and muscles, list snacks of cheese (preferably European varieties), custard, pudding, ice milk, and, of course, low-fat milk.