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Primary Care

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University of Cincinnati College of Medicine

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University of Cincinnati

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The Christ Hospital

Make Nutrition Work for You

Need a little inspiration for a healthy workday menu? Try the following:

Breakfast:

  • 8 oz. low-fat yogurt
  • 1 medium apple, orange or banana
  • Low-fat granola

Lunch:

  • Turkey sandwich on whole-wheat, hold the mayo
  • 2 cups of low-sodium vegetable soup
  • Slices of carrot, celery and red pepper

Snacks:

  • 1/4 cup heart-healthy nuts, such as almonds, walnuts or pistachios
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup hummus with carrot or celery sticks

With meetings to attend, bosses to please and deadlines to meet, you don’t want eating healthy to feel like extra work. Although eating healthy on the job takes effort, it doesn’t have to be difficult.

“Good nutrition is something that you work towards and plan for,” says Martha Orabella M.D., Primary Care, The Christ Hospital Physicians. “People who are busy with careers and in other aspects of life sometimes let nutrition fall by the wayside.”

Job stress and time constraints can contribute to poor nutrition habits such as skipping breakfast, overindulging during lunch and choosing snacks that are high in fat and low in essential nutrients like fiber, calcium and vitamin D.  

Working in nutrition

Before you head to the vending machine or the fast-food drive-thru, consider some of Dr. Orabella’s tips to fit nutrition into your work life:

Get organized. Packing a lunch instead of eating out can save you cash, calories and time. If your mornings are hectic, pack it the night before. Keep your car and desk stocked with almonds, raisins or energy bars so you’re not tempted to use a drive-thru or hit the vending machine. Also, if a co-worker brings in donuts every Friday, just take half or plan to eat a little less at lunch.

Eat at intervals. “There’s no rule that says you have to eat lunch at noon. Eat half your lunch at 10 a.m. and the other half at 2 p.m. when you’re hungry again,” Dr. Orabella says. Eating smaller portions of your meals throughout the day will sustain your energy levels and stop you from overeating.

Make your own menu. If your only option is to eat out during the workday, here’s how you can make better choices:

  • Order off the kid’s menu at fast-food restaurants, which gives you smaller portions, fewer calories and healthy alternatives, like apple slices instead of fries.
  • Make a meal out of a salad or soup, order half of the portion, and split a meal with a friend. Save half of today’s big portion for tomorrow’s lunch.
  • Ask the server to split the order and package half of it to take with you. It will prevent overindulging at lunch and give you a pre-portioned meal for dinner.

Track your calorie bank balance. “Think of your calories almost as a bank account,” says Dr. Orabella. “A woman of average weight has about 2,000 calories to spend during the day, and men have about 2,500.” If you want to lose weight, you need to consume less than this. Every time you reach for the coffee creamer and sugar, the community candy dish or a can of soda, it’s like swiping your calorie card in an ATM. Here’s how to be calorie frugal:

  • Opt for baked, not fried.
  • Stop eating when your full, not when the plate is empty.
  • Substitute low-fat cheese for meat on a sandwich and skip the condiments.
  • Browse a restaurant’s nutritional info online before dining out.

Strike a healthy balance. “There’s no one perfect food or diet,” Dr. Orabella says. Instead, eat a range of foods that give you a balance of protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats and vitamins. Find out what’s in your foods by learning how to read a food label.

Get help understanding the role of good nutrition for your health by talking to your primary care doctor. To find a physician near you, call 877-904-4YOU or visit www.TheChristHospital.com.

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