Feeling sluggish?

The reason may be sitting on your plate

To say the least, the macaroni and cheese, barbecue chicken and collard greens you had for lunch were delicious. Ordinarily, you don’t eat this much. But an early meeting kept you from breakfast and left you feeling ravenous. But when that sleepy feeling hits, you’ll wonder whether the large meal you enjoyed for an hour is worth the sluggishness that will slow you down for the rest of the day.

This is a scenario that Yvonne Fulmore, special loans coordinator for Summit Bank in Mays Landing, New Jersey, can sometimes relate to. She generally does a good job of adhering to healthy eating patterns. “But when I’m pressed for time at the office, I might put off eating in the morning,” says Fulmore, 36. “Then when I try to compensate by eating a big meal later in the day, I inevitably feel tired and run-down.”

It’s easy to forget about nutrition and good-eating habits when you’re meeting deadlines and negotiating contracts. But if you neglect to put good things into your body at the right times, your health and your work will suffer. “You should never skip meals,” says Randall Brazil, a fitness trainer licensed by the National Association of Sports Medicine. “In fact, you should try to eat between five and six mini-meals every day.”

The USDA’s Food Guide Pyramid-also known as the five basic food groups-can help you develop a healthy food plan that meets your specific dietary needs. Brazil also offers more tips on how to eat healthfully and turn food into the fuel that powers you through your workday:

  • Eat more, not less. “It’s actually good to eat between meals,” says Brazil. This keeps your metabolism up and running efficiently. Have pieces of fruit, vegetable sticks, yogurt or pretzels handy to munch on throughout the day.
  • Load up on H2O. Drinking lots of water keeps you from overeating by making you feel full. “You need about 64 ounces or eight glasses a day to get the benefit,” says Brazil.
  • Avoid caffeine and sugar. These stimulate the production of adrenaline. “When the rush is over, your body crashes,” says Brazil. For a quick energy boost, try a bagel with a dab of cream cheese or a potassium-packed banana instead.
  • Keep it lean. “Opt for lean cuts of meat and skinless poultry that are broiled or baked instead of fried,” advises Brazil. Excess oil and fat only weigh you down.

For more information on good nutrition, browse the following Web sites:
The American Dietetic Association: www.eatright.org

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Guide Pyramid: www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/Fpyr//pyramid.html

Thrive Online, a Web site devoted to health and fitness: www.thrive online.com.

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