Healthy living can be achieved on the run

June 18, 2003|by LYNN F. LITTLE

Like most workers in today's world, health professionals are pressed for time - and often under stress at work. A recent survey by Eat Right Montana, a statewide coalition promoting healthy habits, shows how these busy people manage to practice what they preach about healthy eating and how they walk their talk about physical activity. These aren't complicated or expensive ideas.

They are simple ways to save time and money, boost energy and feel better at work.

The registered dietitians and other health experts surveyed by Eat Right Montana follow the common-sense advice that we've all heard for years. What works in Montana can work here. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Eat a sack lunch instead of fast food. Snack on fresh fruit instead of a candy bar. And the pros all agree: It's not hard to be fit and healthy; it's just a matter of making healthy choices an everyday thing.


The experts' recommendations can be grouped into three major categories:

-- Make nutrition convenient: This means keeping lots of tasty, eye-appealing food and beverages nearby. This way, you have the right stuff at hand whenever you get hungry or thirsty.

-- Make activity routine: The best way to stay active at work is to build fitness opportunities into your daily schedule. This is as easy as taking a 10-minute stroll with a "walking buddy."

-- Make health a group thing: Healthy options are fun when you share them with others. It's easy to do - by sharing healthful recipes or by taking 10 minutes in a meeting to stretch and move.

Treat yourself right

There are many ways to eat well at work and to fit fitness into the workday. Here are some timely tips on how to enjoy delicious nutrition and fun activity in the midst of hectic schedules.

  • Pack food and beverages for the week ahead.

    Spend an hour getting organized on Sunday - and save time and money all week long. Wash fruit, bag veggies, slice cheese and fill water bottles for the week ahead.

  • Stock up on nutrition. Fill your desk drawers, office fridge and briefcase with a healthy variety of tasty snacks and quick meals - like instant oatmeal, trail mix and microwaveable entrees.

  • Pack lunch while you cook dinner. You can cook once and eat twice - by planning for leftovers at dinnertime. Make an extra serving or two - and pack them to go as you clean up the evening meal.

  • Take advantage of convenience.

    Supermarkets feature an amazing array of single-serve healthful food options perfect for desktop dining. Go for cereal in a cup, tuna in a pouch or fruit in pop-top cans.

  • Add nutrition to your commute. It's easy, it's tasty and it doesn't have to be messy. Pack a piece of string cheese, a squeezable yogurt, an apple or a bag of grape tomatoes for the car, bus or train.

  • Pump up with protein power. Many office treats are all sugar and fat. For long-lasting brain and body power, add some protein - with nuts, seeds, soynuts, yogurt, milk, jerky and nutrition bars.

  • Switch to a fruit dish. Tempted by the cookie jar or candy dish? Try a fresh fruit bowl or a jar filled with different dried fruits - mango, pineapple, apricots, plums and craisins.

  • Drink to your health. Staying well-hydrated helps you think more clearly, be less cranky and do less mindless munching. It's also one of the best skin treatments in the world.

  • Treat yourself well. When it's time to eat, give yourself a real break. Stop working, stop rushing and take a few minutes to savor whatever you are eating.

  • Use the KISS principle for candy. Keep it small sweetie! Skip expensive, high-calorie, king-size bars. Slowly savor a chocolate kiss - or enjoy a bite-size version of your favorite candy treat.

It is important for all of us to work on our health. It's the best investment that any body can make. Taking a little time to care for your health can lead to big improvements in your life.

Lynn F. Little is extension educator with Family & Consumer Sciences at Maryland Cooperative Extension in Washington County.

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