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How to eat right when time is tight

January 26, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
You're tired, stressed, time crunched and hungry, so what can you eat beyond the meal deal at the drive-thru?

"This is all about how you can make smart choices, get that energy back, keep going and not take extra time out of your day," said dietitian Patricia Bannan.

In a perfect world we would all have enough time to have a proper breakfast, sensible lunch, and delicious, well-thought-out dinner. But many of us jump out of the gate with barely enough time for coffee, or so we think.

So Bannan wrote "Eat Right When Time is Tight" for soccer moms, worker bees, even PMS sufferers who often claim there's no time to get proper nutrition when stressed and time crunched. She cooked up ideas to get healthy in a hurry, no matter what you're doing.

Start with an instant oatmeal breakfast, which isn't new, but planning it is. After dinner the night before, put dry oatmeal and frozen berries in a to-go container. In the morning, add water and nuts and give it a quick microwave -- you've got fiber, protein, whole grains and a whole lot of satisfaction.

Take a few more minutes to plan lunch: stuff a whole wheat pita with lettuce, tomato, lean luncheon meat and a smattering of mustard and hummus.

Now, what's for dinner?

"You're running around all day, you don't have time to make dinner, what you could do is pick up a rotisserie chicken, pick up two vegetable sides for the family, make sure one them is a green one," said Bannan.

Another challenge is eating when hormones flare up.

When you're suffering from PMS, you crave salt and sugar, and your appetite is at an all-time high. On these days you should think about high fluid, low salt foods to prevent water retention, like adding cucumbers and celery to flavorful foods.

"You also want to have things like omega-3s, and things that are going to maintain your mood. And you also want to have some things that taste sweet and taste really creamy to satisfy yourself without a lot of fat," said Bannan.

Try an open-face sandwich made with decadent tasting Greek yogurt and avocado or a veggie packed tuna tortilla.

One of the biggest tips is to have purse packing snacks. Bannan suggests Laughing Cow Cheese squares, which are calorie controlled and a perfect size, coupled with fruit or a vegetable.

You can also add a perfect portion tin of almonds or pistachios with a smattering of chocolate to squelch cravings in a healthy way.

"Lack of time is one of the biggest barriers to people not eating right so I really wanted to help people. You know here are some simple strategies that are not going to take your time but in the end they're going to save you time," said Bannan.