How to eat right for your lifestyle

Published 06 March 2013
(Macin Smolinski)

Whether you're a vegetarian, student, athlete, parent or busy office worker, it's important to eat right every day.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says the easiest way to get it right is to create an eating plan that takes your unique lifestyle and nutritional needs into consideration.

"There's no one-size-fits-all way to eat that's right for everyone," says the academy's Jim White.

"In reality if the diet doesn't fit with your lifestyle and unique needs, it won't work in the long-term and can even leave you missing out on the nutrition you need to get you through the day."

Jim says an eating plan can help people meet their nutritional needs whilst staying within healthy calorie limits.

Here are his tips on eating right for your lifestyle:

Career

Busy work days and business travel can lead to on-the-fly meals.  For desktop dining, keep single-serve packages of crackers, fruit, peanut butter, low-sodium soup or canned tuna in your desk.  Always on the go? Tuck portable, nonperishable foods in a purse, briefcase or backpack for a meal on the run. Try granola bars, peanut butter and crackers, fresh fruit, trail mix, or single-serve packages of whole-grain cereal or crackers.

Athletes

Whether you are a competitive athlete or just enjoy working out, what you eat will affect your performance.  Your body needs fuel to function so eat a light breakfast or snack before you exercise. Try low-fat yogurt, graham crackers with peanut butter, a banana or cereal with low-fat milk.  Before, during and after exercise, replace fluids with plenty of water or a sports drink, if you prefer.

 Student

The student lifestyle can be fast-paced and low-budget. Students can eat right on a budget with some savvy food shopping tips. Stock smart snacks that combine protein and carbohydrates to fuel you like:
Apples with peanut butter, carrots and hummus, hardboiled eggs and fruit, banana and yogurt, almonds with low-fat cheese or whole-grain cereal. These also double as a quick grab-and-go breakfast to wake up your brain and muscles for the day's activities.  At the cafeteria, salad bars are a great choice, just go easy on the cheese, bacon and other high-calorie add-ons. Follow the MyPlate guidelines and make half your plate fruits and vegetables.

 Families

Caring for family, whether children, elderly parents or both, can be a handful. However, family meals allow parents to be role models to promote healthy eating. And, just because a meal is made quickly doesn't mean it can't be nutritious.  Keep things simple. Build a collection of recipes for quick and easy family favorites. Choose ingredients that you can use from more than one meal. For example, cook extra grilled chicken for chicken salad or fajitas the next day.  Ask for help. Get the kids involved making a salad, setting the table or other simple tasks.

Vegetarian

A vegetarian diet can include just as many tasty varieties of foods as one including meat. For example, nutrient-rich beans are recommended for everyone. Enjoy vegetarian chili, a hummus-filled pita sandwich or veggie burger. Many popular items are or can be vegetarian – pasta primavera, veggie pizza and tofu-vegetable stir-fry.

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