Don’t let being busy get the best of you

I’ve been overeating the past few weeks and I’m not happy about it. I weighed myself at the gym today and I’ve gained a few pounds. Nothing significant or even terribly worrisome, but enough to get my attention. I’ve been swinging wildly between not eating enough and binging. I’ve also been allowing myself way too much heavy, rich food and after-dinner sweets. I haven’t been drinking enough water either. While I try not to be too hard on myself and accept that I will make mistakes/give in to cravings that I shouldn’t, I need to get myself back on track before I stray too far from my normal healthy eating habits.

I’ve been super busy recently, which equals stress and less sleep. Stress is an obvious culprit for weight gain. Lack of sleep can also be a contributing factor. Research suggests that a marked decrease in sleep can increase production of a hormone that stimulates appetite. Not only have I been eating more, I’ve been eating worse  (read comfort food galore). I often get caught up in what I’m doing and put off eating. Often to the point of headache and extreme crankiness. Problem is that by the time I do eat, I’m so hungry I eat way more than I should. I then want the most filling, fatty, delicious thing I can get my hands on. When I wait to eat and I’m starving, I overeat not only because my body feels deprived, but also because I see food as a reward. I’ve worked hard and so deserve those extra bites or a cookie for dessert. I think I also have a “you may not eat again for a while, so you better fill up” mentality. This weekend was especially bad. I realize now that I didn’t do myself any favors by waiting too long to eat, overindulging when I did eat and eating mostly carbs and sweets. Dinner on Friday night exemplifies my eating habits of late. I ate around 8:45 p.m. at Noodles & Company. I’d been on my feet for more than three hours and was absolutely famished. I had the Mushroom Stroganoff (regular size, 780 calories), an order of three potstickers (200 calories) and a snickerdoodle cookie (350 calories). Prior to eating this meal, I hadn’t had anything to eat since about 2:30 p.m. I ate it so fast, I didn’t even really pay attention to what I was eating (and I really like the food at Noodles). Bad form all around.

Being busy is no excuse not to take good care of yourself. If you can’t (or, more appropriately, feel like you can’t) break for a full meal try to grab a snack (and a glass of water!) to hold you over until you can make something more substantial. Running on empty is not only unhealthy, but ultimately detrimental. You’re not as sharp when you’re distracted by a grumbling stomach or the onset of a headache. The aftermath doesn’t lend itself to productivity either. Loading up after long periods of not eating leads to sleepiness, or what I like to call, a food coma. We all want to make the most of our time, but we can’t ignore the needs of our bodies. In fact, the harder you push yourself, the more you need to be aware of what and how you’re eating. Energy and mood are directly related to what you put into your body, so it’s important that you take the time to eat well (and often!). Below are some of my favorite healthy between-meal snacks that are not only quick, but energizing too!

Fage Greek Yogurt with Honey. This yogurt is full of protein to keep you going strong. The honey adds a sweet touch that makes this snack feel like a treat. Spoon required.

FiberOne Brown Sugar Cinnamon Toaster Pastries. I’m not sure that anyone else my age still eats pop tarts, but I love that this particular one is sweet and filling. Good toasted or at room temperature.

An apple (I’m partial to Honeycrisp) and peanut butter (I like Skippy Natural Creamy). Sweet, salty and healthy. An amazingly simple, yet delicious combo.

Dry Roasted Lightly Salted Peanuts. Tasty and easy to eat anytime, anywhere.

Kashi Stoneground 7 Grain Party Crackers and Sabra Roasted Red Pepper Hummus. Be sure to set out a portion (four crackers and 2 tbsp. hummus). It’s easy to put back half a box before you know it.

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