Healthy Eating in an Imperfect World
No time to eat right? WebMD has the solution.
Motivating Couch Potatoes
You love your TV shows, and can't think of a better way to relax after a
hard day's work. Yet studies have found a strong relationship between
tube-watching and obesity. Perhaps it's because TV viewing is a sedentary
activity. Or maybe it's because people tend to eat mindlessly in front of the
If you eat in front of the TV, you probably have no sense of how much you're
eating, says Christine Filardo, MSRD, director of public relations for the
Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH), a nonprofit consumer education
group. PBH helps run the national "5 A Day" campaign to increase fruit
and vegetable consumption 5 or more a day for 75% of Americans by 2010.
"If you're sitting there [in front of the TV], and you rip open a bag of
chips, it's very easy to eat the entire bag of chips and not really think about
what you're doing, because your main focus is not on what you're eating, but on
what you're watching," says Filardo.
Substitute candy and chips for light popcorn. Baby carrots with a low-fat
dip and a bowl of fruit are also good alternatives. Also try light yogurt
instead of ice cream.
Junk Food Junkies
Planning healthy meals and snacks ahead of time is crucial for people who
want to curb their junk food cravings.
"Some junk food junkies just fall into that habit, because there's
nothing else around, and so they hit the vending machine, or stop at a
convenience store, and that's what's there," says Gidus.
If you must have junk food, sample the healthier alternatives, such as baked
chips, dried fruit, or sugar-free Popsicle. Look for low-calorie, low-sugar,
and low-fat options.
It also helps to determine what element in the junk food you like. "A
lot of people don't realize that they are looking for something in
particular," says Gidus. "I ask [clients], 'At night you tend to eat
this, this, and this, so it sounds to me like you're looking for something
crunchy,' and they'll say, 'Yeah, I guess, I am.'"
In place of chips, the crunch-lover could try chomping on light popcorn,
whole grain crackers, carrot sticks, red peppers, and rice cakes.
For the sweet tooth, sugar-free pudding, sugar-free Jell-O, fruit bars,
baked apple, fresh fruits, and dried fruits are options.
If you have to have chocolate, keep a small, lower-calorie portion of it
around, recommends Mark Kantor, PhD, associate professor in the department of
nutrition and food science at the University of Maryland. He likes little,
individually wrapped chocolates, because they can give enough satisfaction, but
can discourage overindulgence as it takes effort to open up each morsel.
The Right Food for Weekend Warriors
You're typically not that active, but this weekend your friends have invited
you to a hike, to go skiing, or to a 5K run. What type of foods will give you
enough energy to make it through strenuous events?