What to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, business meals and vacations.
Posted Jun 29 2009 6:16pm
As soon as you wake up (no more than 5 minutes after you’re out of bed), you should drink a glass of clean, fresh water. This sets the digestive system in motion and signals to the rest of your body to wake up.
Breakfast truly is the most important meal of the day. Without a highly nutritious breakfast, you set yourself up for a day and night of more poor eating, low energy and lack of motivation and enthusiasm to exercise.
The meal needn’t be elaborate. A bowl of organic cereal with organic milk and a handful of blueberries or a sliced peach or pear. A piece of toast with your favorite jam. Or a small serving of organic yogurt and fruit of your choice. Breakfast gets the body in motion. Have a great breakfast, have a great day. Have a bad breakfast, have a bad day.
Lunch should be your biggest meal of the day. Though it’s not an excuse to gorge yourself, it should be a healthy meal that is delicious and satisfying. If you eat lunch at work, plan ahead and cook in advance and bring an incredible lunch to work. Do the same for your children, considering that school lunches are garbage. Sit down an open up your lunch bag of roasted chicken and a small dish of pasta with a side of spinach or broccoli di rabe. Have a small plate of olives and cheese and a piece of bread. Finish your meal with a garden salad and then a piece of fruit. Your co-workers will be envious as they slog through their junk food lunches that cost far too much money. With proper planning and some discipline, you can bring to work lunches that far surpass anything a restaurant could serve. Monday lunches can be leftovers from Sunday dinner. Plan like this and you’ll have beautiful lunches all week. You should feel satisfied but not completely full. Energized and not lethargic. While most people stumble back to their desks ready to sleep, you will be relaxed and motivated.
Dinner should be a pared-down version of your lunch. Smaller amounts of everything accompanied by a glass of red wine if you choose. A big salad with some chicken or a tin of sardines. Vegetables and cheese, olives and bread. Pour some olive oil in a flat dish and sprinkle hot pepper over the oil and dip the bread. The Western diet has turned dinner into a free-for-all, where everyone eats until they can’t get up from the table. A Mediterranean dinner is a light meal that allows for smooth and proper digestion as you sleep.
A piece of fruit before bed infuses your body with vitamins, nutrients and fiber that puts you in a great place for the following day. Instead of waking up and feeling exhausted and still full from the night before, you are refreshed and energized.
The trend over the past several decades is for snacks to be high calorie, highly processed junk food, made with ingredients designed in a laboratory. This has played a major role in the obesity epidemic.
Snacks should be light and convenient. If you are on the go throughout the day-prepare ahead and cut up a bag of celery and carrots. A piece of fruit is always a great snack (what a novel idea!).
Our two favorite summer snacks-
Sliced tomatoes and cucumbers and kalamata olives with a few pieces of feta cheese. Drizzle with olive oil. During the hot months, keep a bottle of limoncello in the freezer for such an occasion.
And of course, nothing beats an espresso and cup of gelato as a mid-afternoon snack.
Create your own favorites. Plan ahead. Keep fruit at your workplace. While others throw their arm into a bag of chips, reach for a pear.
BEWARE: Big Food is on to this and they recognize that many are moving away from the junk snacks. They are attempting to stay relevant by manufacturing “healthy snacks.” Think twice before spending your money on a health bar or energy bar. They are nothing more than laboratory concoctions with slick labeling and sexy ads.
Most restaurants can’t come close to a home cooked meal of simple, delicious peasant food from the Mediterranean.
But restaurants can be a nice break, or a necessary function and the important idea to remember is to eat your meal with pleasure. Too often people will gorge themselves in a restaurant and feel as if they have lost all discipline. This is nonsense. The meal was just one meal. But to avoid overeating, eat an apple or two, one hour before you go out to eat. This will signal to your body that you are full and will prevent you from overeating. Enjoy your meal and enjoy the people you are with. But there’s still nothing better than a home cooked meal.
Though you may be going to well-reviewed, high priced restaurant to discuss serious business, often the meal is less than satisfying. A small snack before you go will insure that you don’t overeat. Keep your meal simple and light and this will help keep your mind clear and sharp as you negotiate the deal of the century. In ancient times, the deals were done before the meal so that everyone could enjoy a festive atmosphere. Something to consider.
Consider the type of vacation you are on. If it’s an adventure getaway, it’s important to eat light, simple and healthy. You’ll need your energy and spirit and if you overload yourself on comfort junk food, you’ll have neither. Try walking the hill leading up to the Acropolis on a full stomach. You’ll need your energy to climb the Spanish Steps in Rome. While every vacation can’t be to Greece or Italy, it’s important to enjoy the local food.
Eat at the local’s restaurants and not at the chain and franchise operations. The food will be better and you’ll feel refreshed and ready for more sightseeing.
Enjoy your food! No eating meals in the car or while working.
Everyone can find 10 minutes to relax and eat.
Ray Salomone Personal Trainer and Wellness Activist