Eat Healthy, Live Better
Trade in Your Cheeseburger for a Business Lunch
October 1, 2008
You’ve spent six hours in a marathon meeting and you’re so hungry you could eat your filing cabinet. Now you’re eating a package of Twinkies, guzzling Dr. Pepper and promising to spend an extra hour at the gym—even though you know you don’t have time. Those empty calories might tide you over temporarily, but in the long run it isn’t just your waistline paying the price. You’ve likely heard that unhealthy eating could shorten your life, but the numbers are living proof of that fact.
Four of the top 10 causes of death in the United States — coronary heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes —
are related to diet and poor food choices. Throw in long work days, high stress levels and no exercise and you’re a walking death sentence.
Business lunches and meetings contribute to the problem by combining work with food. Mindless eating adds lots of calories to a diet, contributing to weight gain and fatigue. Fortunately, making small changes can yield great results. Nanna Meyer is a nutrition research specialist with The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital in Salt Lake City. She says the Europeans have the right idea when it comes to food and business.
“Europeans are very good at not mixing the two,” Meyer says. “They eat lunch to socialize but then they go back to work. And they don’t spend the day eating at their desks.”
Americans, on the other hand, tend to combine working and eating all the time. A business lunch with clients can add hundreds of extra calories to your daily consumption. Even “healthy” salads can be drenched in high-fat dressing, smothered with cheese and sprinkled with fried croutons. Learning how to discern between good and bad menu choices can make a big difference when stepping on the scale.
According to Meyer, fast food restaurants should be avoided at all costs. Big portions, fried foods and sugar make these places fat-traps. But if you need to eat on the run, there are better choices you can make.
Instead of gulping down a double cheeseburger with French fries, Meyers suggests ordering a grilled chicken salad with vinaigrette on the side. Also, a turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread with lots of vegetables is another good option. Balancing protein, carbohydrates and fat will keep you full while providing the body with proper nutrients. “You want to create volume on your plate, but not at the expense of calories,” Meyer says.
Filling up on fruits and vegetables, wheat pasta, brown rice and whole-grain breads add fiber to the diet, helping you feel full longer. Include beans, grilled chicken and fish to incorporate protein, which helps increase the body’s metabolism.
Red-alert menu items to avoid are cream-based sauces, fried foods and breaded or crusted coating on meats. Furthermore, drinking water and fruit juice instead of alcoholic beverages or soda will keep your caloric intake down. “People should get used to drinking water,” Meyer says. “Artificially-sweetened drinks are not good because the sweetener makes them crave sugar.”
Generally, Meyer suggests business-people eat more fruits and vegetables, snack on healthy nuts and yogurt, balance carbs with protein, add flavors to foods in the form of herbs and spices, and eat only when physically hungry. These small changes will add up to a healthier body, a longer life and better mental clarity at work.
“Restaurants are becoming much more aware about food preparation,” Meyer says. “The foods are more balanced nutritionally as opposed to a 16-ounce steak and baked potato.”
Culinary Education Chef Bob Bryant understands how time consuming it can be to create healthy meals. That’s why he offers cooking classes at the Harmons Culinary Education Center. Located at the Harmons Bangerter Crossing store (125 E. 13800 South), Bryant teaches a “Fit and Flavorful” class instructing people how to create great meals with less fat and calories.
Cajun chicken fettucine, tandori-style chicken and turkey meatloaf are just a few menu items taught during the course. He also demonstrates how to make healthy homemade sauces, like marinara or enchilada. “In the past 10 or 15 years I’ve become much more health conscious,” says Bryant, who has been a chef for 35 years. “Plus, the Harmons delicatessen offers very healthy options like oven-roasted vegetables and baked chicken.”
He suggests busy executives spend part of two weekends each month preparing fresh food that can be frozen and reheated. By making it a family event, the family learns about making healthy eating choices and many healthy meals can be prepared for use throughout the month.
For information about Harmons Culinary Education classes, visit www.harmonsgrocery.com