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Monday Minute 

your positive thoughts for this week

As we talked about a couple weeks ago, when we get busy and are stressed we tend to make poor nutritional choices that can actually increase our stress levels and cause other problems.  This week let’s explore some tips for getting good nutrition and maintaining a more healthy diet, even under stress. Try changing just that “one thing” at a time.  After a few weeks, it’ll become habit and you can move on to another area you want to impact.  And your body—not to mention your stress level—will feel the difference!  Here they are:


  • Eat Breakfast  This seems so simple, but is very important.  You may rationalize that you’re not hungry yet, that you don’t have time, that lunch will come soon enough, that you need to diet anyway, or that the milk in the latte you pick up on the way in is all the good nutrition you need.  But skipping breakfast makes it harder to maintain stable blood sugar levels and effective functioning during your busy morning; you need it.  For some folks, better time management is needed in order to improve the chances of having time to prepare a decent breakfast.


  • Opt for a Switch to Green Tea  If you’re a coffee junkie, you may not realize the effects caffeine has on your system.  Since caffeine has a half-life in your body of at least 6 hours, caffeine you ingest with dinner can interfere with the quality of your sleep at night.  However, you can avoid this and improve your mental performance the next day if you gradually wean yourself off of large amounts of caffeine. A relatively easy and healthy way to do that is to replace coffee with decaffeinated green tea, which has a soothing taste and the added benefit of loads of antioxidants… At least take a look at decaf coffee.


  • Carry a Snack  Having some protein-rich, healthful snacks in your car, office, or purse can help you avoid blood sugar level dips and accompanying mood swings and fatigue.  Trail mix, granola bars and certain energy bars all contain good nutrition.  Along these lines, you should always have water handy, as it’s so vital to health and proper physical functioning. It can help you feel full as well.


  • Healthy Munches  If you find that you absently munch when you’re stressed or have a pattern of snacking at certain times in the day or week, you can replace chips, cheese puffs and other less-healthy munchies with carrot or celery sticks, edamame, nuts, sunflower seeds or other more healthy choices.  (Even popcorn is a better choice if you leave off the butter and salt!)


  • Brown Bag It  Many people go out for lunch to fast food places, coffee shops or restaurants that serve less-than-optimally-healthy fare.  You can save money and usually eat much healthier if you take a few extra minutes (there’s that time management thing again) to pack and bring a lunch from home.  Even if you do this only a few days a week, it would be an improvement over eating every lunch out.


  • Banish the Bad Stuff  It’s easier to avoid sugary, fatty, and otherwise unhealthy foods if they’re not in your home, practically begging you to eat them!  This may sound like a no-brainer (yet it’s sometimes harder to do than you’d expect), but you should go through your kitchen and throw out anything your body can’t use in a healthy way.  (Or at least most of it.) That way you’ll be forced to snack on healthy food when you’re stressed.


  • Stock Your Home With Healthy Fare  Even more important than getting the bad stuff out of your house, is getting healthy food in! The best way is to plan a menu of healthy meals and snacks at the beginning of each week, list the ingredients you’ll need, and shop for everything once a week. That way you know you’ll have what you want when you need it, and you won’t have to stress over what to eat each night; you’ll already have thought of it! (This makes eating at home much easier, too!) Start experimenting with healthier foods you haven’t tried before.

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