Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tips for healthy eating in a fast-paced world

Modern American life presents a great many obstacles to eating healthy, nutritious food. Constant motion and fast-paced lifestyles leave little room for preparing fresh feasts. And unless you are fortunate enough to live in an area that is nutritionally-aware with many available health food options, it can be extremely difficult -- and often fairly expensive -- to find the salubrious gems you need in a sea of processed junk.

I would like to share some viable options to making the task of eating well on a regular basis not only possible but fruitful and rewarding as well. Here are some ideas that I incorporate into my daily regimen:

> Homemade granola or trail mix.
If you purchase dried fruit, nuts, and granola in bulk, you can quickly combine handfuls of each in a reusable bag for taking with you in the car, on trips, to work, or wherever you go. I like to throw in some almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts, dried cherries, dried raisins, dried cranberries, cacao, and other such morsels. It makes for a fulfilling snack anywhere I am and I can even keep reserves in the truck or in my backpack for a quick snack that is both nutritious and energizing.

> Homemade food bars.
Most stores these days have shelves full of various protein bars, food bars, energy bars, etc. Since most of these bars contain heavy amounts of soy products, which disrupts the endocrine system particularly in men, I try to avoid these. Among the few that don't contain soy, the prices can be upwards of $2 or $3 a bar, a cost I am unable to dish out on a daily basis. So I prefer to make my own food bars out of nut butters, honey or agave, fruit, nuts, protein powders, chia seeds, cacao, and pretty much anything else I dream up that sounds like it would be good in a bar. Because the nut butters often get soft or melt at room temperature, I usually keep cut trays of my bars in the freezer for quick access when I am running out the door and know I will have limited access to food later in the day. They make a great snack or meal when I don't have access to much else or am in a hurry.

> Preparing extra large meals with plenty of leftovers.
This is one of my favorite options. As a young, single guy, I usually have leftovers anyway when I cook a meal. It's hard not to cook for two or three and it makes more sense to do so in order to have a couple extra meals already prepared for later in the week. This works especially well with soups and stews that can be made in a large pot and stored in the fridge or freezer for later use. Homemade chicken soup is an awesome choice as it is not only inexpensive for the amount it yields, but it stores extremely well in the fridge for a couple weeks, and the freezer indefinitely. Preparing large meals and storing them long term is also great for getting a good quality meal at the end of a busy work day later on when you don't feel like cooking a meal. Just be sure to gently reheat on the stovetop rather than in the microwave. Don't kill your food!

> Health food store lunch counters.
I do not frequent these often as I am a fan of preparing my own food whenever possible, but when all else fails and you need a quick meal that is good for you, stores such as Whole Foods Market and Mother's Market have buffet-style food counters with all sorts of meal items available for purchase by the pound. These can be relatively pricey, but when compared to most fast food these days, they are not that much more expensive and the quality of the food is much higher. One can prepare an entire lunch or dinner from these counters in a pinch and get a good portion of healthy food.

Planning ahead and preparing for the future is always a wise choice. Whether it's preparing trail mix or cooking extra portions to store for future meals, living healthy and ensuring you get optimal nutrients levels takes foresight but it is well worth it. In the long run, you will actually save quite a bit of money while getting much better quality meals than you otherwise would.


Leah said...

Great suggestions. Not eating well is just laziness! It doesnt take much to pre prepare food foods - just a little less TV I'd say!