To keep your mind and body properly fueled, here are some tips to help you to ‘Eat Right’ at the right time:
Eat right after you exercise. After a good workout, your body might be low on fuel. The best time to fill up is 30-45 minutes after you finish your exercise. Your hungry muscles are looking for healthy carbohydrates – like fruits, vegetables or whole grains – and a shot of protein.
Eat right when you get up. You don’t need to eat immediately upon awakening, but it’s important to eat in the morning. People who skip breakfast often over-compensate on calories during the morning hours or at lunch, or they may rely on caffeine or sugary foods to power through the first few hours of the day. A light breakfast – a bowl of oatmeal with a bit of protein powder stirred in or a bowl of berries with a dollop of cottage cheese – can be followed a couple hours later with a piece of fruit, a handful of soy nuts or a stick of string cheese. Or try a protein shake with some milk and fruit.
Eat right when it comes to fats. We need small amounts of fat in the diet, but most of us eat too much fat. And, some fats – like the ones naturally present in fish, tree nuts, olives and avocados – are healthier than others. Read labels to curb your intake of saturated fats and trans fats that can raise cholesterol levels. Healthy fats add flavor, so add avocado or nuts to your salad, or a dab of flavorful olive oil to steamed veggies.
Eat right before you work out. Depending on the length and intensity of your workout, plan your eating accordingly. You need to fuel up before your exercise – especially if you work out first thing in the morning. If you don’t have much time to eat beforehand, easy-to-digest foods like smoothies, soups or yogurt do the trick. If you have a few hours to digest before you hit the trail, have a regular meal with plenty of healthy carbs – whole grain breads, brown rice, pasta, fruits and veggies – to keep you going strong.
Eat right when you eat out. We eat more than half our meals out, so dining out isn’t the special occasion it used to be. Resist the urge to splurge when you’re out. If you’re trying to cut your calories, split an entrée with a friend and order an extra salad. Or, skip the starchy sides and double up on veggies. Ask for dressings and sauces on the side so you can control how much you eat.
Eat right before you grocery shop. If you do your shopping on an empty stomach, you’ll be like a kid in a candy store – everything will look good to you. Grab a protein bar, a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts before you go out the door so you’ll be less tempted. Try to plan meals ahead of time, make a list – and stick to it.
Eat right from the garden. Fresh fruits and vegetables are some of the healthiest foods around, but we often eat the same ones day in, and day out. Visit your local farmer’s markets to find new foods or new varieties to add to the menu. Eating locally and seasonally will add a spark to your menu, and foods are usually much fresher.
Eat right at night. Many people eat the majority of their daily calories during the hours stretching from dinner time to bedtime. Those who eat lightly or skip meals during the day, only to indulge at night, aren’t providing their brains and muscles with the fuel that’s needed for daily activity. Spread your meals and snacks over the day, and eat light at night. If after-dinner snacking is piling on the pounds, try pre-portioned puddings or frozen fruit bars, a handful of nuts or a cup of tea. Or, brush your teeth right after dinner to deter you from eating.