As a worker or a contractor who spends time in the field, watching what you eat probably isn’t at the top of your priority list. After all, life (and work) is difficult enough. Why deprive yourself of a chicken parm sandwich from that great Italian place in town or that king-size Butterfinger?
Well, there are a couple ways to look at it. Life’s too hard to think about what you eat. On the other hand, maybe it’s also too hard, and short, to feel like your body’s made of lead all the time (and to risk shortening your life with heart disease, diabetes, or a stroke).
The Truth About Eating “Whatever You Want”
When you’re addicted to something, your brain is going to crave it, even if it’s not what your body is actually calling for—and studies have shown that sugar is addictive, which seems to be the case with most Americans.
As you might have heard, sugar isn’t just in candy, soda, and dessert. There’s plenty of it in carbohydrates, hence our craving for french fries and refined grains like pizza, bagels, donuts, and pastries.
Whether we consume soda, candy, or sugar-laden carbs, our body has to move the sugar out of our blood and into our cells. It calls in the insulin troops. Our blood sugar dips below normal, which makes us feel like we’re crashing…onto…a…big…fluffy…bed (or so we wish).
A Different Kind of Craving
Another popular craving is for more energy. When you feel up to being active, laughing heartily, and completing tasks like a pro—aren’t those the best days?
The good news: it may not take a major effort in the realm of nutrition for you to feel a little less tired during the day.
Registered Dietician Tiffany Chag, of the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, says Coca-Cola and other sodas will make many people feel lethargic. This is because the calories are all sugar, which our bodies burn through fast.
But sugar isn’t the only culprit in sapping our energy. “A high-fat diet will make you more sluggish,” Chag says.
That’s why Chag recommends trying to eat meals with a good carb-protein-fat balance. But who has time to pore over caloric content and count your fruits and vegetables by the ounces?When you’re addicted to something, your brain is going to crave it, even if it’s not what your body is actually calling for. Click To Tweet
Choose Right and Come Prepared
It may not be that difficult to shift your diet to a healthier place and feel better. Here are a few of Chag’s simple principles for eating healthier on the go:
1) Pack your lunch. “The more control we have over our food, the healthier options we choose,” she says. It influences everything, from fat content to portion size.
2) If you don’t have time to pack a lunch, opt for the grocery store over the drive-thru. A sandwich from the deli counter will be just as tasty as, and much healthier than, a Big Mac or a Whopper. You can also grab an apple or a package of hummus and baby carrots for a snack.
3) Keep a supply of snack bars in your backpack, car, or coat pocket—”ideally ones with a decent amount of protein,” adds Chag.
4) “Hard-boiled eggs and a tuna sandwich are great snack and meal options, but you’ll want a cooler,” she says. Chag recommends investing in a good one for your lunch (we’d suggest something heavy-duty, like a Yeti). While you’re at it, get a Swell or Yeti water bottle so you always have chilled water to sip. Chag notes: “Thirst is sometimes confused for hunger, so drink first.”
5) While not the most nutritious lunch, if you’re working hard, the magical combination of carbs, protein, and fat in peanut butter and jelly can really help you refuel. “And no matter how smashed it gets,” Chag adds, “it always tastes good.”