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5. Diet on the Go

Having a busy life is exciting and can be very fulfilling. However, it can kill your diet desires if you aren’t careful. Whether you take your own food with you or eat out, choose to be a good dieter on the go.

Packing a lunch can offer many nutritious benefits that are certainly better than fast-food choices or the vending machine. When packing your own lunch, you know what goes into it and you can save money as well. A well-balanced lunch should contain a high-protein food, a starch, a fruit and/or vegetable, and a beverage.

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The best lunches consist of lots of variety. Keep the portions small and low in fat so that you become energized and don’t feel like you have to take a nap!

Occasionally a treat could be thrown in too. Look back at the MyPyramid guidelines for healthy suggestions. Choose foods from each of the food groups. Limit excess snack foods, cookies, candies, and cakes that are high in fat and sugar. Select high-fiber foods like whole-grain breads, fresh fruits, and vegetable sticks.

Sandwiches are a common lunch choice. Seek out new fillings and breads to make your sandwich appealing. How about some sliced chicken or tuna? What about trying a sandwich wrap or raisin bread? You can even try a thermos of soup, cottage cheese, or yogurt. Packing a good lunch doesn’t take a lot of time but it does take planning. If your mornings are rushed, then pack it the night before. Leftovers from home also make interesting lunches. When cleaning up, pack them into individual servings. Seek out containers that help keep foods fresh.

As a dieter on the go, you may choose to eat out. Make a conscious effort to plan and make wise food selections. As you become more knowledgeable as to what and how you should be eating, you will be able to eat out without a great deal of effort. Restaurants are finally trying to cater to consumers’ requests. Many more choices are thankfully becoming available.

6. Sticking to a Meal Plan

Have you ever served a meal that just didn’t look very appetizing? I’ve botched a few meals myself. I’m talking about that dinner of baked rubber chicken, mashed potatoes, and cauliflower on a white dinner plate that looked so boring and bland you fell asleep looking at it. How about that fresh stir-fry with a side salad that crunched when you chewed until you chipped a tooth? Meals like these often happen when you don’t plan what will be served.

A meal should be appealing. If it is not, it will not be enjoyed. A proper meal should be one that is rich in the following characteristics: color, flavor, texture, and nutrients.

Cyndi’s Secrets

To easily plan your meals, do so on a cycle menu: Monday (chicken), Tuesday (fish), Wednesday (vegetarian), Thursday (beef), Friday (pasta), Saturday (leftovers), and Sunday (ethnic). Make a chart, and add side dishes.

Color

The color of your meal appeals to your eye and stimulates your appetite. Remember the meal described above—the all-white plate can be made more appealing by changing it to baked chicken with wild rice and fresh broccoli spears. Doesn’t that sound better to you?

Flavor

Flavor is important, too! Spicy, sour, sweet, and tart are but a few of the many flavors available. All spicy or all sweet foods may be too much at one time. Try offering some mild beans or rice with a spicy enchilada, rather than a spicy side dish, to help balance your taste buds. The temperature of your meal should also be considered. Most people enjoy a balance of some hot foods with cold foods. Soup and fresh salad go well together, as does an omelet with fresh orange juice.

Cyndi’s Secrets

Color is an important things to look for in your diet. If you are eating a lot of colors, chances are you are eating healthy because of all the fruits and vegetables. Just don’t eat too much food in gold like fries or brown like gravy.

Texture

Texture should also be thought out. People like the combination of soft foods with crunchy or chewy foods. Eating a meal should not require an excessive amount of chewing or no chewing at all.

Nutrients

A meal should be full of a wide range of nutrients. It is easier to put together a nutritious meal by choosing foods from the different food groups and planning a range of colorful food selections and various flavors and textures. Fiber is abundant in fresh, crunchy foods. Vitamins A and C can be found in both dark green leafy and red vegetables. Protein is abundant in meats, and calcium is found in dairy sources. Follow the MyPyramid guidelines and you can plan meals that provide your daily nutrients.

7. Shopping for the Goods

Nothing beats an old fashioned shopping list to help you plan for your healthy diet needs. Keep your list handy at home to help you and family members or roommates keep up-to-date on foods that need to be purchased. However, if you are finally trying to make healthy choices, the list can help you keep on target. Otherwise, impulse shopping can cause you to buy products you don’t need. Consider MyPyramid and serving sizes—this will help you buy only the things you need, and in the right amounts.

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When time is limited, convenience items can be a good choice. Be wise when making your selections, and add complementary lower-fat side dishes to accompany higher-fat main dishes.

Prepackaged/Convenience Foods

Prepackaged and convenience foods are here to stay. Sure they can save time, but they also can run the food bill up rather quickly. Estimate the cost of preparing certain foods from scratch, and then compare them to the prepackaged item. See what the difference is for you? Making foods from scratch can also save you additional calories and fat. For example, making fried rice from a prepared rice mix is much more caloric than a quick, home-prepared version. If you are a fan of macaroni and cheese, you can use lower-fat cheese and milk when you prepare it yourself, an option that may not be available in a prepackaged type.

What about frozen dinners? There are entrées, family-size varieties, side dishes, and even special meals catering to children. Not all of these are good choices. Be selective. Choose the ones that offer standard serving sizes and use lower-fat preparation methods. You can even find them with vegetables and fruits that are often neglected in homemade meals. When selecting frozen meals, aim to meet these guidelines:

  • Select meals with no more than 30 percent of total calories from fat.
  • Select meals with no more than 200 milligrams of sodium per 100 calories.
  • Select meals with at least 40 percent of the recommended dietary allowances for vitamins A and C.

Keep in mind that these guidelines don’t guarantee that you will meet all your daily nutritional needs. In order to maintain a healthy intake, be sure to alternate your food choices. Try to limit everyday consumption of frozen meals. It helps to discover how to compensate for missing nutrients during other meals and snacks during the day.

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