Coffee and a muffin can do more harm than good
The typical mid-day snack in North America can do more harm than good — coffee and a muffin, donut, cookie, scone, or a chocolate bar.
We tend to choose this type of food because our energy is falling and a coffee (stimulant) with a sweet (sugar) seems like the right choice to quickly boost energy levels.
When your energy drops after eating sugar-rich, highly-processed carbohydrates (often full of trans fatty acids and devoid of vitamins and minerals), you feel hungrier than before, you may overeat to quench your hunger and to increase blood sugar levels, and finally you might choose an unhealthy meal.
Eating a healthy, balanced, nutrient-dense snack mid-morning, mid-afternoon, and possibly before bed, will keep you energized and satisfied between meals.
Your insulin levels will be stable, you won’t feel tired or have trouble focusing, and you will have provided your body with the nutrients it needs to remain healthy.
When you don’t have any healthy snacks for work prepared this can can be the quickest path to eating the wrong thing.
You can stay on track by grabbing some healthy alternatives at the food court (if you work in an office tower complex) when you get the munchies. Head down in the morning before work and get yourself a snack for the afternoon as well. If you don’t eat it, then you have it for the next day.
All of these snacks can be bought ahead of time (or made by hand) and brought with you to work. Many can be found at a better super-market or at a deli counter that prepares meals and salads.
The following snacks can be made from scratch and brought with you to work. Most can be found at a better super-market or a deli counter that prepares meals and salads.
Alternatively you could eat a smaller, balanced meal (that looks like a lunch or dinner) for a snack consisting of lean protein, healthy fats, and vegetables. This will depend on your caloric and energy demands (perhaps a smaller portion of meat with vegetables), e.g.,
I’m not a fan of counting calories. That may be useful in certain circumstance (e.g. you’re diabetic), but for most of us it’s a nuisance.
What useful to be aware of (for weight management and healthy energy levels) is both the percentage ratios — when reading nutritional info on food packaging (the % macronutrient split between protein, carbohydrates and fats) — and visual ratios for portioning food onto your plate.
A healthy meal is balanced, meaning it consists of
The amount of fruit and grains you consume in a day will depend on your individual weight-loss goals and level of daily activity. The more sedentary you are, the less grains you should consume, if any at all.
If you are trying to lose body fat or maintain a healthy weight a 3:1 ratio of vegetables to fruit is my recommendation. You might even choose to limit fruit to 1-2 servings per day, and eating these earlier in the day.
Even the choice of plate size and colour can have a positive influence on healthy weight-loss.
A good rule of thumb if you don’t want to count calories (which can be misleading), is to use the size of your fist as a measure: one fist-sized portion of protein and two fist-sized portions of vegetables on your plate. One fist-sized portion of a starchy carb is optional.
These are the foods that will make you gain unwanted body fat, crave sugars and mess with your health:
If you have any processed foods like the above at home, and if you want to lose weight and feel better, throw them out. Alternatively, put them behind healthy foods in your pantry (where you won’t see them), and enjoy them once in a while as a cheat meal or desert.
Eat Healthy ~ Be Your Best!
© 2014 Darren Stehle. All Rights Reserved