Control your diet, control your life

Eating Well

April 30, 1996|By Colleen Pierre | Colleen Pierre,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

One of life's great stressors is feeling out of control. And one of the best de-stressors is regaining control.

Most of us suffer from physiological stress, the daily hassle of being out of control because we have too much to do, too little time to do it in, too little money to do it with and an overriding fear of being downsized.

Eating right, sleeping well and exercising regularly are important parts of regaining control. Unfortunately, periods of high stress tend to push us away from those healthy habits that help solve our self-management problems.

During heavy physiological stress our need for proteins, vitamins and minerals (like iron and calcium) remains about normal. But because eating habits tend to go berserk, we may not get all the nutrition we need to handle the extra load.

What we can do is decide to get eating under control. With just a little planning and an organized shopping trip each week, daily emergencies disappear.

Always start with breakfast. You can "grab and go" with a small bagel or English muffin, a slice of cheese and carton of juice. For a head start, toss it all into a bag the night before.

Lighten up on the caffeine. If you're drinking lots of coffee, tea, and cola out of habit, get yourself a water bottle to keep handy. Too much caffeine keeps you on a roller coaster ride that aggravates stressful situations and may make you feel hungry when you're not.

If you munch to relieve stress, pack a bag full of baby carrots, celery sticks, cauliflower and broccoli florets, zucchini and yellow squash slices, cucumber chunks, radishes and cherry tomatoes. zTC These watery veggies will keep you well hydrated while providing plenty of fiber, anti-oxidant vitamins (like C, E and beta carotene) and phytochemicals that reduce your risks of cancer and heart disease. They'll also protect you from the vending machine!

If you get your comfort from soft, mushy foods, take along a ripe banana, a carton of fat-free yogurt or a red bliss potato to zap in the microwave for a nutritional boost far beyond the reaches of a doughnut or candy bar.

Build a briefcase emergency kit. Pack a low-fat granola bar, an 8-ounce, shelf-stable carton of low-fat chocolate milk, and a 1 1/2 -ounce box of raisins in a sandwich-size zip-top plastic bag. Men, add an extra granola bar. For about a dollar, you have a meal that provides protein, calcium, iron, fruit and whole grains for 400-500 calories and fits comfortably within recommended fat and sodium limits. True, you wouldn't want to eat this every day, but in a pinch it will pull you through, and it will remain fresh, safe and wholesome for months.

Keep a desk drawer safety supply. Combine a 3-ounce pop-top can of tuna, a Hunt's Snack Pack light vanilla pudding, a DelMonte Fruit Snax orchard mix package, some individually wrapped bread sticks, an 8-ounce box of orange juice, a plastic fork and a napkin in a zip-top plastic bag. Men, toss in a 1-ounce package of salted peanuts. For about $2.50 you have a nutritional safety net that provides protein, calcium, iron and vitamin C for 450-550 calories, again, within recommended fat and sodium limits.

Rely on "best bet" fast-food lunches. When you're "driving through," order one of these lunches high in protein, iron and calcium, and rich in fresh vegetables. They'll fuel you up for a productive afternoon, without putting you on the road to weight gain.

Roy Rogers: Roast beef sandwich with plenty of "Fixin's" (lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions, mustard), and a 7-ounce orange juice. 416 calories, 27 grams protein, 10 grams fat, 9 percent calcium, 23 percent iron.

Burger King: Broiled chicken salad, vegetable sticks, Weight Watchers creamy ranch dressing and frozen yogurt. 360 calories, 21 grams protein, 9 grams fat, 18 percent calcium, 14 percent iron.

Wendy's: Grilled chicken sandwich, 8 ounces 2 percent milk, vegetable salad with four tablespoons picante sauce. 470 calories, 32 grams protein, 11 grams fat, 40 percent calcium, 20 percent iron.

McDonald's: Chef salad and vanilla shake. 460 calories, 28 grams protein, 10 grams fat, 50 percent calcium, 8 percent iron.

Hardee's: Ham sub, side salad with fat-free dressing. 390 calories, 27 grams protein, 7 grams fat, 27 percent calcium, 27 percent iron.

Colleen Pierre, a registered dietitian, is the nutrition consultant at the Union Memorial Sports Medicine Center and Vanderhorst & Associates in Baltimore.

Pub Date: 4/30/96

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