At around 4 p.m., the office vending machine can start to look pretty good. To resist its temptation, stock your desk with small servings of nutritious goodies like fruit, all-natural granola bars, low-sugar protein bars, and nuts says Marissa Lippert, registered dietician and founder of Nourish. The more you fill up on healthy snacks, the less you'll crave junk food.
"For a more intense, calorie-blasting workout, eat an energizing snack, like a nutrient-loaded apple with peanut butter, 30 minutes to an hour before," says Lippert. After your session, refuel your muscles with water, protein, and carbohydrates. Try munching on string cheese and crackers or nuts and dried fruit.
Restaurant entrees and frozen dinners are quick and easy, but they're also packed with calories, sugar, salt, and fat. By cooking your own food, you can use healthier alternatives. And if cooking is daunting, start slow -- cook just two to three times a week -- and make extra food to span the days in between. Also, create meals that are simply easy assembly projects, like delicious salads that you can throw together for lunch.
"When dining out, make it a point to order light, healthy options -- grilled or steamed instead of fried; brown rice instead of white; and all sauces and dressings on the side," says Lippert. "Leave a third of your meal on the plate, and ask for it to go." When you order takeout, spoon a single helping onto a salad plate (rather than eating it straight from the container). Since a normal portion takes up more space on a small dish, you'll feel like you're getting more bang for your bite. Add portion parameters, too. Use a deck of cards as a guide for the size of your protein, and the amount of starches on your plate should be no bigger than the palm of your hand. And instead of reaching for seconds, pop the leftovers in the fridge and have them for lunch or dinner the next day.
Stress, emotions, and boredom can lead to mindless snacking. When you get the urge to eat, ask yourself if you're really hungry -- or just looking for something to distract or soothe you. If it's the second answer, go for a walk, pick up a book, or dial up a friend. And make it a point to slow down. Rather than eating crackers out of the box, for example, walk to the kitchen to get a plate for them. Going through this extra step will give you time to decide if you really want to indulge. Finally, you may just be thirsty! Thirst is often disguised as hunger. Down a couple of glasses of water to see if the feeling subsides.
In the weeks leading up to the big day, reduce your intake of carbonated drinks, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, juices, and dairy products (if you're lactose intolerant). If your stomach is sensitive, refined flours and sugars found in fluffy white breads, cakes, and pastries can also leave you puffy.
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