by Fernando Quintero
Are you suffering from fast food burn-out? Is popping a Lean Cuisine into the microwave your idea of a home-cooked meal? Are fig bars your sole source of fruit?
Leading a busy life and eating right do not have to be exclusive of one another. "If people follow some basic guidelines, they'll find it's a lot easier than they think to get the nutrition they need to staying healthy," said Tracy Taylor Baker.
Baker is a nutritionist and instructor of Nutrition Management for Busy People, one of a series of noontime workshops sponsored by Health*Matters.
Baker says one of the most important tips to keep in mind is to put variety in your diet, making it easier to get the more than 50 nutrients needed each day to stay healthy. Choose accordingly from the food pyramid, which replaces the old "basic four food groups."
From the bottom of the food pyramid -- bread, cereal, rice and pasta--you should eat between six and 11 servings. Sound like a lot? Consider this: a small bowl of cereal and two slices of bread alone add up to four servings.
You should also eat between two and five servings of fruits and vegetables; two to four servings of meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs or nuts; and two to three servings of dairy products. Of course, you can get needed nutrients from a vegetarian diet as well.
For most people, getting enough fresh fruits and vegetables poses the most difficult dietary challenge. "One of the best time-savers is using supermarket and fast food salad bars for fruits and vegetables already cleaned and sliced," said Baker.
For holiday eating, Baker offers these tips:
o Keep festive platters of dried and fresh fruit out in addition to the regular sugary and high-fat holiday fare.
o Use applesauce or pureed prunes instead of oil in baking recipes. Use fewer chocolate chips and fewer nuts than called for in cookie recipes.
o Don't go to holiday parties hungry. Eat a sensible meal before to avoid filling up on fattening party food.
o Cut down on calories by adding mineral water to white wine and other alcoholic drinks.
o Buy turkeys that are not pre-basted. Commercially prepared birds are loaded with added oil and salt.