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Healthy Eating in an Imperfect World

No time to eat right? WebMD has the solution.

The Right Food for Weekend Warriors continued...

"I don't think any food is going to help [the weekend warrior]," says Kantor, noting that no edible will be able to prevent injuries caused by being unconditioned.

It is, however, important to eat before or during a demanding activity, as tiredness can lead to injury. To keep energy levels up, pack dried fruits, cereals, and trail mix.

Maintaining hydration is also key. "People don't realize how much water they can lose during exercise," says Kantor. "Even during the winter, if it's dry, you can really sweat a lot and the sweat evaporates quite quickly so you don't even realize how much water you're losing."

There are people who turn to energy bars or drinks for an extra boost. Be careful of this option as some products may be as high in sugar and empty in nutrients as candy bars. Read the packaging label. Moore says a good energy bar will have 5 grams of fat or less, 3-5 grams of fiber, up to 15 grams of protein, and 15-25 grams of carbohydrates. Stay away from products that have sugar or corn syrup as their first ingredient.

Also look at the vitamin and mineral content, particularly if you're having more than one serving of the bar or drink. Make sure the vitamin and mineral content adds up to about 25% or less. Some energy bars are heavily fortified, and too much vitamins and minerals can be harmful. Too much copper, for instance, can interfere with iron absorption and function in the body.

Kitchen Phobes

Don't know how to cook a healthy meal? No problem.

"You don't have to be a gourmet cook to eat healthfully," says Filardo. "A couple of chicken breasts and sliced up sweet potatoes can be roasted in the oven. You can stir fry a bag of baby spinach with some garlic and olive oil."

Take advantage of the work that has already been done for you, adds Filardo. There are low-calorie frozen foods, prepared salads, and cut-up fruit readily available at grocery stores.

If you get take-out, try healthier versions of the food. For example, when ordering pizza, go light on the cheese and order a salad to go along with your meal. At Chinese restaurants, ask the chef to use less oil. Order vegetables, and go easy on the rice, noodles, and deep-fried foods. For soups, go with the broth-based option. Choose tomato sauce as opposed to cream sauce for pasta.

Indeed, no matter where you are on the spectrum of healthy eating, it is possible to make a positive change without drastically changing your lifestyle. Make enough of these small changes in your diet over time, and a healthy body won't have to be just an ideal. It can become reality.

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Edited on December 01, 2006

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