The "Get More Energy!" Diet: Meal Plans for On-the-Go Women
Lifestyle stressors: There's no place like home, where stay-at-home moms and home-office jocks have easy access to the fridge and pantry, free to graze all day long.
If you're a stay-at-home mom, you're up at dawn to get a jump on the chores before the kids are awake and then make breakfast for your family, often eating what's left on your kids' plates. That pattern repeats itself at lunch or dinner, when you obligingly polish off their uneaten french fries, chicken nuggets, or macaroni and cheese.
When you're home-based, it's easy to snack out of boredom, loneliness, or stress, especially since there are no other food-conscious grown-ups around to make you behave. A tense conversation with a client -- or a toddler -- sends you wandering into the kitchen for a tuck of leftover birthday cake. When you're having trouble gathering your thoughts for a crucial presentation, munching last night's pizza comforts you.
Nutrition pitfalls: Nibbling all day long can lead you to consume as many as 500 extra calories a day, which adds pounds that sap energy. "Because you're constantly foraging for food, you're never really hungry and never really feel full," says Bowerman.
Your high-energy performance plan: Instead of grazing, eat three normal-size meals roughly every four hours so you learn to heed your natural hunger cues and consume foods that meet your nutritional needs rather than satisfy a junk-food craving. You'll also feel more energized.
- Power up with a mix of complex carbs and protein. Start your day with fruit and yogurt or an egg and whole-grain toast. For lunch, make yourself a sandwich with whole-wheat pita bread, turkey, and vegetables. If you take your kids out for fast food, choose healthier menu items such as a grilled chicken salad or a grilled chicken sandwich. Snack on whole-grain crackers and low-fat string cheese or celery and peanut butter -- all more nutritious and filling than graham crackers and juice.
- Make dining a little formal. Use a knife, fork, and a ceramic plate whenever you eat at home. "No fingers allowed" reduces the temptation to pick off a child's plate or eat standing at the refrigerator door.
- Keep plastic bags filled with fresh fruit and vegetables, such as bananas, strawberries, carrots, and cucumbers, in the fridge. Reach for one of these snacks when you feel tempted to scavenge the cupboards for chips or cookies.
- Don't use food as a pacifier. If you work from home and are having a stressful day, get out of the house for a brisk 10-minute walk or to play fetch with your dog. Exercise will calm you down and may boost energy. You won't feel like poking around the kitchen afterward.
- If all else fails, set a mealtime alarm on your computer or a desk clock and don't eat until it rings.