How to Break Bad Eating Habits
If All Your Meals Come in Cans, Bags, or BoxesThe fallout: Packaged foods, like soups, frozen meals, and rice mixes, can be sneaky sources of unhealthy fats, sugar, salt, and excess calories. Even a can of (otherwise virtuous) low-fat soup can contain more than half a day’s worth of sodium.
The fix: Don’t feel guilty about relying on packaged foods; just be smart about which ones you choose. Frozen entrées―especially lower-calorie, lower-sodium versions―can provide a quick, portion-controlled meal. Compare labels to find the healthiest ones―that is, those that are higher in fiber and lower in salt and that have whole grains and nutrient-rich vegetables at the top of their ingredient lists. Frozen vegetables, cooked chicken, and a whole-grain rice mix can kick off a healthy almost-home-cooked meal, particularly when you serve them with fresh vegetables or a leafy green salad. Finish with a piece of fruit or low-fat yogurt for dessert.
If You Eat on the RunThe fallout: Eating while on the go (driving, walking down the street, shopping) means you’re probably not paying much attention to what’s going into your mouth. Leslie Bonci, R.D., director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, says this “grab, gulp, and go mentality” can leave you dissatisfied and unsure of what you ate, and sometimes even give you an upset stomach.
The fix: Build time to eat into your day. “If you have to, schedule it on your BlackBerry, just like you do everything else,” says Krieger. When you have no option but to dine while dashing, be prepared. Stock your purse, glove compartment, or office drawer with a few healthy choices, such as low-fat granola bars, nuts and dried fruit, and single-serving packages of crackers. “Even fast-food restaurants are offering healthier, satisfying choices, like salads and wraps with crunchy vegetables and lean meats,” says Bonci.
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