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Healthy eating in a hurry

Is the food you eat your medicine or your poison? Does it nourish your body or burden it with fat, sugar and additives? While we all know the dangers of an unhealthy diet we struggle to find the time to prepare the food our bodies need. For too many of us a bag of chips or the nearest fast-food counter is often our only option on a busy day. Sound familiar? The good news is that help is at hand. As busy as modern life can be there are ways to eat healthily in a hurry. Here's how. 

General guidelines
Whether you are sitting down to a three-course meal or eating breakfast on the go, the following guidelines should inform all of your food choices: 

  • Stay away from sugar: learn to read food labels and avoid foods that have sugar added to them

  • Choose whole grains over refined carbohydrates: for example whole-wheat bread instead of white

  • Cut out processed foods: eat food that is as close to its natural state as possible, for example a chicken breast instead of chicken nuggets

  • Eat a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables daily: the rule of thumb is that at least half of what is on your plate should be fruit or vegetables

  • Eat lean meat, chicken and fish: if you want to eat meat choose lean cuts or poultry

  • Eat the right fats: your fat should come from fish, nuts and vegetable oils (for example olive and canola oil) and not from butter, margarine and fatty meat

Healthy in a hurry 

It is all in the planning: Healthy food requires some thought and planning. Plan your meals for the week on Saturday, draw up a shopping list and get shopping! Coming home to an empty fridge and grocery cupboard with no idea what to cook will, more often than not, end in an unhealthy supper!

A well-stocked kitchen means that you can prepare easy, nutritious meals at any time. Make sure that your pantry and freezer are always well stocked with meat, chicken, frozen vegetables, herbs and spices, rice, pasta, lentils, tinned fish, tinned tomatoes, condiments, garlic, lemons and stock etc. 

Bountiful breakfasts: Your mother was right when she said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Make sure that your breakfasts are quick and easy to prepare. Get up a little earlier so that you have time to sit down and eat your breakfast before you fly out the door. It will give you a chance to gather your thoughts, prepare mentally for the day and digest your food properly!

Some breakfast ideas include: a combination of plain yoghurt, fruit, nuts and muesli, smoothies, hard-boiled eggs, sliced apple with cheese and nuts or even a good old peanut butter sandwich on whole-wheat bread. 

Get snacking: Always have a healthy snack on hand and you won't be tempted to reach for chocolates and chips. Prepare your snacks for work the previous night and you are ready to go the next morning. Healthy snack ideas include dried and fresh fruit, nuts, homemade popcorn, biltong, raw carrots, whole-grain tortilla chips and whole-wheat crackers. Snacks should be quick and easy to prepare.

Cook in advance: Make sure that you always have a healthy lunch at work: cook a large meal at night and take leftovers to work for lunch the next day. Or, cook a few dishes on a Sunday and freeze portions to eat for lunch and supper during the week.

Have a Plan B
If you have no choice but to buy a meal in a hurry make sure that you always have a Plan B. Get to know the healthy take-away food outlets in your neighbourhood or buy a rotisserie chicken and salads from the deli counter at your local supermarket.

Getting it right 
Remember the 80/20 rule. Aim to eat nutritious, life-giving food just 80% of the time and you will live a long and healthy life. 

"One should eat to live, not live to eat."
Moliere
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