Health & Fitness

By Alexis Lardieri

Credit: http://images.teamsugar.com

As an avid non-morning person, I barely have time to shower and look presentable let alone eat a sensible and healthy breakfast. It is usually a piece of whole wheat bread and a banana I stuff into my mouth the moment I get to work. The day continues with a latte and a chicken sandwich I quickly eat at my desk. For those of you thinking I’m not doing half bad – think again. According to nutritionist Jeanne Ricks, it takes 10-20 minutes for your stomach to send a message to your brain that you are full. You are far more likely to consume excessive calories if you are just inhaling your food mindlessly Ricks says. Suddenly you spend the remainder of your work day eating exactly the same way and the pounds slowly start to tack on – 15 to be exact.

So before things start to get out of control, BN has teamed up with registered dietician, Stephanie Clarke and Jeanne Ricks to give you ten quick and easy tips on how to avoid gaining weight while “on the job.”

from L to R: Nutritionist Jeanne Ricks and Renowned Registered Dietician, Stephanie Clarke

1. Plan it Out:

The best way to avoid common office pitfalls is to have a plan, Clarke says. Even if there is not much time for eating meals, you can still plan healthful ones. Ricks suggests having low calorie munchies on hand, such as baby carrots, air popped corn, fresh organic fruit or vegetables, pickles, olives, whole grain crackers, or organic yogurt.

2. Stay Conscious:

Try to avoid eating while talking on the phone, typing, or working at your desk. Schedule time to eat three meals and one to three snacks daily, suggests Ricks. Allow yourself to eat slowly at a table in a casual environment where you can relax and enjoy your food. This way you are more likely to hear your body’s hunger/fullness cues.

3. More is Less:

Americans are starving themselves fat, says Ricks. The idea of not eating to loose weight is simply a myth that must be put to rest. Active people need to refuel every three to five hours says Ricks. Blood glucose levels start to drop around this point, causing your energy, mood, and concentration to drop as well. Furthermore, the body senses that food is in short supply and shifts into starvation mode which begins to store fat ultimately causing you to gain more weight.

4. Avoid Food Amnesia:

Whether it’s a piece of candy from your desk, a fortune cookie from a co-workers Chinese takeout, a bagel from the afternoon board meeting – calories can add up fast. Trying to count your calories for the day is virtually impossible. However, Clarke suggests an alternate plan – a food journal. When you eat something, write it down, says Clarke. This way you can pick out your vices before the day is done and recover with a sensible dinner.

5. Stress is not a food group:

Stress is the easiest and quickest way to pack on the pounds. Ricks suggests before reaching for that snack consider why you want that food at that exact moment. Food often serves many other functions besides just satisfying hunger, says Ricks. Food can be used to reduce stress, to relax, to overcome depression, loneliness or boredom. This is commonly referred to as emotional eating. During any stress response, digestion suffers because blood and energy are diverted away from the digestive organs toward the skeletal muscles and the brain says Ricks, ultimately preparing the body for fight or flight. Eating should never occur in such a state. The food will not be digested and an allergic reaction or sensitivity may develop. If a hunger cue hits outside of scheduled snacks and mealtimes, Ricks suggests delaying eating for at least ten minutes and asking the simple question, “am I really hungry?”

6. Get Grocery Organized:

In order to plan out your meals properly, it helps to have the right grocery list. Clarke suggests getting in the habit of making regular trips to the supermarket in order to continue to stock the fridge with healthful foods that are simple, portable, and easy to bring to work. Not only will it help slim your waist line, but it will save you a ton of money. Ricks also suggests cooking in bulk on the weekends and freezing leftovers to save time. Be sure to freeze in individual portions so you’ll have quick, ready to eat meals at the office.

7. Never Break Breakfast:

Although you may have heard this tip before, it is by far the most important. According to Clarke, breakfast is the one meal that sets the pace for your metabolism for the remainder of the day. More importantly, if you have eaten breakfast already you are more likely not to justify picking on food while sitting around the office.

Some quick and easy suggestions:

Yogurt Parfait – nonfat plain yogurt with a splash of honey and topped with berries, with a side of whole grain cereal with at least five grams of fiber per serving. Pack yogurt and berries in a small container and bring a separate snack bag with cereal, mix when ready to eat.

Fruit and Nut Butter Wraps – peanut butter or almond butter in whole wheat wrap with sliced fruit such as banana, pear, or apple. Make a few of these, wrap them in plastic wrap and stick them in the refrigerator for an easy and portable breakfast on the go.

8. Store the food, not the fat:

When your job demands more than eighty percent of your time, it is so easy to often end up making poor eating choices. Either because you are rushing to fit in a meal, ordering takeout to save time, or reaching for the first thing you see in order to get a mere boost of energy. It’s so much easier to bring meals and snacks to work when you have the right mode of transportation for them, says Clarke. Investing in a set of three to six different sized reusable containers can certainly make a difference when you are rushing to put a lunch together. Clarke suggests looking for sizes to accommodate about two cups for an all-in-one meal, one cup for snacks like yogurt or fruit, and smaller sizes for dressings, nuts, and dips.

9. Be social, but make healthful choices:

After a long days work it might be appealing to take a trip to the corner bar for happy hour and a bite to eat. Your intention is to have one glass of red wine and a salad. Suddenly your three drinks in and that cheeseburger and fries is starting to look pretty good. Let’s rewind and start over. Clarke suggests, if co-workers are going out for happy hour, have one drink or stick to seltzer and lemon which looks like a mixed drink and tastes just as good. Have a healthful snack before you go so you don’t snack on typical bar food. Or Clarke suggests picking up a healthy lunch before hand and taking it to go – then picking a happy hour spot that has outside seating so you can have your “cake” and eat it too.

10.- Crack open the snack drawer:

Typically the word “snack” has a negative connotation, especially when paired with the word dieting or weight-loss. However, snacking between meals can actually prevent you from getting hungry before a meal, which can be a main culprit of overeating or eating too fast, says Clarke. She suggests planning a snack between breakfast and lunch, and between lunch and dinner. This will also help keep your energy up throughout the day. Try aiming for a snack that is about 150-200 calories and contains fiber, protein, and a healthy fat to help keep you satisfied. Some recommendations that are easily portable are string cheese, a piece of fruit, a tablespoon of nuts, homemade trail mix made with whole grain cereal, dried fruits, a cup of veggie soup with an ounce of reduced fat cheese, or a cup of Edamame in the shell.

So now that you have a few tips to start you work day off right and keep it that way, lets take it to the next level – your kitchen. BN met with renowned nutritionist and registered dietician of Chobani Greek Yogurt, Nicki Briggs to give you some quick and easy recipes you can try at home and easily transfer to the office.

Carrot Soup
Serves: 4

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes Calories per serving: 214

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
½ tsp white pepper
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
2 lbs carrots, scraped and coined
1 Tbsp brown sugar
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp ground ginger
4 cups vegetable stock
Salt to taste
Chobani™ Plain 0% Greek Yogurt

Preparation:
Heat large pot over medium heat. Add olive oil to pot. Once hot, add onions and sauté for 2 minutes. Add white pepper, cumin and cayenne and cook for 3 more minutes. Add carrots to pot, and reduce heat to low. Add brown sugar then stir and cover pot. Allow to cook for 5 minutes. Uncover, add garlic and ginger and increase heat to medium high. Sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add stock, and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer, cover and cook until carrots are soft.

Turn off heat, and puree using an immersion blender or food processor. Return to pot and season with salt to taste. If serving soup cold, allow to cool for one hour. Then cover pot, and transfer to refrigerator to cool over night. To serve, ladle into bowl, and garnish with Chobani™.

Nutrition Information:
Calories: 214; Fat: 7g; Sat Fat: 2g; Protein: 5g; Carbohydrate: 34g; Fiber: 7g; Sodium: 800mg

Salmon Salad
Serves: 2
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Calories per serving: 260

Ingredients:
1 (7.5-oz) can pink salmon
2 Tbsp hummus
½ cup Chobani™ Plain 0% Greek Yogurt
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp dill relish
1 tsp red wine vinegar
2 stalks celery, chopped
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup walnuts, toasted
2 cups lettuce, washed and dried
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Preparation:
Open salmon can and drain well; set aside. Combine yogurt, hummus, mustard, relish, vinegar, celery, cranberries and walnuts in a medium sized bowl. Add drained tuna and mix until combined. Place salad over lettuce, and drizzle with olive oil.

Nutrition Information:
Calories: 260; Fat: 8g; Sat Fat: 1g; Protein: 30g; Carbohydrate: 18g; Fiber: 3g; Sodium: 410mg

Pumpkin Muffins
Serves: 12
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Calories per serving: 150

Ingredients:
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup 0% Plain Chobani™ Greek Yogurt
½ cup applesauce (no sugar added)
1 tsp vanilla extract
¾ cup whole-wheat flour
¾ cup natural oat bran
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
1 cup raisins or dried dates
½ cup walnuts

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 400F. Place rack in the middle of the oven. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners or spray with a non-stick spray. In a medium bowl mix together pumpkin, eggs, Chobani™, applesauce and vanilla. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, bran, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add Chobani™ mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in the raisins. Do not over mix the batter or the muffins will be tough when baked.
Fill the muffin cups about 2/3 full with batter. Place in oven and bake for about 18-20 minutes, or until firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool.

Nutrition Information (per muffin):
Calories: 150 Fat: 3g; Sat Fat: 0.5g; Protein: 6g; Carbohydrate: 31g; Fiber: 4g; Sodium: 30mg

Originally published October 2009
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