What to Eat for Your Job

Say good-bye to the 3 p.m. slump. The right foods will boost stamina and keep you fired up all day.
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Parenting power

woman eating yogurt

Whether you're a stay-at-home mom or a nine-to-seven executive, smart food choices can help power you through your next presentation or a full-scale toddler meltdown. Eating well on the job can be surprisingly simple, says Althea Zanecosky, R.D., a Philadelphia-based spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. To learn how, check out these diet makeovers.

The stay-at-home mom

Who she is: Barbara Flynn, 34, married with a 2-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son. Body stats: five-three, 118 pounds Personal weight goals: "I'm not overweight. But I'd like to tone up."

Job demands: Because Flynn's husband, the owner of a paving business in the Detroit area, works long hours, she is usually home alone with the kids. "I love being a stay-at-home mom, but sometimes it can be exhausting," says Flynn. "I struggle with feeling tired a lot."

What she eats: Typically, her kids' favorite foods win out. "It's easier than preparing a separate meal," says Flynn. Breakfast is generally cereal with milk and strawberries, blueberries or melon.

Macaroni and cheese or peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches are usually on the lunch menu, along with pretzels and carrots. For dinner, Flynn would like to eat grilled pork chops or baked chicken, but often caters to her kids' taste buds. So she dines on breaded meat dishes or cheesy chicken casseroles served with corn.

To rev her engines, Flynn downs four cups of coffee in the morning and a glass of soda later in the day. Between-meal snacks are often popsicles, popcorn, crackers or yogurt.

Diet diagnosis: Although Flynn has some balance in her diet with cereal, fruit, poultry and veggies, her kids' favorite foods are loaded with fat. Fatty foods divert blood to the stomach because they take a long time to digest, which could be making Flynn feel sluggish. She can slowly introduce some lighter choices, such as grilled chicken and vegetables, which will also help her children learn healthy habits. "She's a role model, so it's important to set a good example," says Zanecosky.

Iron deficiency could be another reason for Flynn's exhaustion. Red meats are particularly good sources of iron, as are eggs, beans and nuts. Although the caffeine from soda and coffee may give Flynn a brief energy burst, it's a diuretic and may leave her feeling tired and dehydrated. She should gradually cut back on caffeine and up her water intake.

Perfect peak-performance meal: Stir-fried beef and veggies served over rice; salad with a hard-boiled egg and low-fat dressing; skim milk and a fresh fruit medley for dessert.

 
Continued on page 2:  Never-ending night shift

 

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