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When your schedule is busy and unpredictable, nutrition can often fall to the wayside. While not uncommon, this scenario is when a reliable set of simple nutrition habits becomes the most critical. Aligning nutrition with lifestyle is essential to supporting energy, focus, and mood. Balanced nutrition helps to minimize emotional eating and cravings and can help maintain a happy and healthy body weight.
As adults, it’s common that we are programmed with a set of “food rules.” These have been cultivated and reinforced in childhood. Examples such as “clean your plate” and years of exposure to diet culture shape individual perspectives of health and body image. However, if food rules / expectations are misaligned with lifestyle, it’s a set up for failure. For busy physicians this mismatch is particularly problematic as it can lead to fatigue, stress, food cravings, and often weight gain.
Optimal nutrition for a busy healthcare professional is individualized and looks different from conventional food rules and guidelines.
•Sitting down and having a distraction-free meal is often unrealistic.
•Eating on the go may be a necessity as meals can be interrupted and timing can be unpredictable.
•Large gaps in between meals can make it tricky to follow hunger and satiety cues. This can lead to eating too quickly and past fullness.
•Inadequate sleep causes increased appetite and cravings for sweet and calorically dense foods. This is not abnormal.
Nutrition is not one size fits all. Success is individual and experimenting to find what works best for you is critical. Don’t worry about the rules and guidelines that are setups to fail, rather build simple habits that support your lifestyle.
JENNIE’S TOP 5 NUTRITION TIPS FOR WOMEN PHYSICIANS:
1. Learn how to eat practically.
You may not be hungry, but if you know you won’t be able to eat for the next three to five hours, eat a meal or snack with protein. Feeling starving and relying on willpower to make choices that support health is a recipe for overeating, and guilt.
2. Eat a morning meal when you have the time.
It doesn’t have to be breakfast, but it’s critical that you eat when you have the time. It’s common to “save calories” in the morning or try to wait to eat until you’re hungry. Inevitably, you run out of time to eat. Not eating enough through the day causes intense food cravings and overeating later.
3. Keep it simple.
Meals don’t need to be complicated, fancy, or made from scratch to nourish the body. The goal of nutrition is not perfection. Shoot for good and consistent, a healthful and enjoyable meal can be made in as little as five minutes. A veggie and bean quesadilla, or rotisserie chicken, on a whole wheat tortilla with avocado and salsa is a personal favorite… simple, tasty, healthy, and filling.
4. Build meals that provide satiety AND satisfaction.
If meals provide satiety for only a short period of time, it may be necessary to reevaluate food choices and portions. Don’t forget about the satisfaction component, including foods that you enjoy. If meals aren’t satisfying, cravings will follow. There are no “good” or “bad” foods, some offer more nutritional value, while others are fun and feed the soul. The key is finding the right balance for you.
5. Create balanced meals and snacks using the following formula:
Combine a protein, with a healthy fat, and a fiber (whole grains, fruits and veggies).
This mix of nutrients contributes to satiety, blood sugar balance, and fuels your body with nutrients to feel your best.
Tips to make this happen.
Protein: keep a variety of ready to use proteins on hand. Think: rotisserie chicken, beans, lentils, edamame, tuna, Greek yogurt, smoked salmon, cottage cheese, eggs…
Fiber/Carbohydrates: aim to make half of your grains whole. Let’s be honest – we can all eat more fruits and veggies. Include a variety of colors to provide different vitamins and minerals.
Fats: Don’t skimp on fats. Healthy fats (unsaturated) are critical for satiety, heart health, happy hormones, and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K).
My clients are women that work in healthcare. They are smart, educated and motivated. For most, however, nutrition was never taught in school in a way to support their individual health goals.
If you need support, accountability, or simple tools to optimize your nutrition habits, please reach out to me: email@example.com