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Time Starved? 10-Second Take-Aways to Eat Well in a Crunch


Are you super busy, and never feel like you have enough time to plan for, let alone enjoy, a healthful meal? Do you have multiple mouths to feed, but not sure how you’re going to get something on the table that tastes good and is also nutrient-rich? Are you and your family like human airplanes–flying from one thing to the next, traveling back and forth in trains, planes, and automobiles on family vacations or business trips that make healthful eating a challenge to say the least?

If you said yes to any of the above, don’t despair! Registered dietitian Patricia Bannan’s new book Eat Right When Time is Tight provides tons of doable strategies to help you eat well in no time flat. I am proud to have given the book two thumbs up and share highlights from my recent conversation with Patricia about the book.

What inspired you to write this book?

I’m not a seasoned chef or self-proclaimed diet guru with a fast-track plan to lose ten pounds in a week (and likely regain it!), but like most people, I’m busy but still want to eat as well as I can and get the nutrients my brain and body need. I wrote this book to show people how simple it can be to make healthy choices even when they don’t have time to cook, or when they’re stuck at an airport, working 14-hour days, shuttling kids to soccer practice, or facing ten holiday parties (not to mention a tight-fitting cocktail dress!). Most of my clients want to make healthier choices, but feel that a lack of time–which goes hand and hand with stress and fatigue–gets in the way of them reaching their weight loss goals. I wrote this book for them.

How is this book different from the sea of diet books out there? What makes it stand out the most?

The “Time Factor” sets this book apart from the rest. Many books provide sound nutrition advice, but it’s hard to implement that advice when you have ten other pressing things to do on any given day, or at any given minute! This book is designed to help time-starved people eat healthy, whole foods on-the-go and access nutrition information easily. For example, the book packs in 10-second take aways so that people don’t have to read the book cover-to-cover all at once. The book also provides readers with an assessment quiz and “Time Factor” calculator for each of the 10 Master Strategies so the busy reader can focus on what will give them the biggest bang for their buck (in as little time as possible, of course).

Because everyone wants the quick fix, can you share 5 of your top tips to help time-starved, hungry people put together healthful, nutritious meals for themselves and their families?

Here are five of my ten Master Strategies to help people eat right when time is tight… and reap the rewards such as feeling more energized, experiencing more happiness, or losing weight:

  • AppeSize Your Meals. An AppeSizer is an appetite speed bump. Just as a cement speed bump slows down a car, an edible speed bump slows down eating. An AppeSizer is low in calories and takes time to eat. To incorporate this strategy, you can have a bowl of broth-based soup before a meal; order a cup of hot herbal tea while waiting for an entree (instead of passing the time munching on bread or appetizers); or have a 100-calorie snack that includes protein before a big meal (e.g., 2-3 tablespoons hummus, 1 tablespoon nut butter, 1 cup non-fat yogurt, or 30 pistachios).
  • Veg Out and Fruit Up. Most people fall far short of the recommended five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day. The benefits of produce (having tons of nutrients, aiding weight management, and fighting chronic diseases) are well known. However, finding time to fit kiwi and carrots into your jam-packed day is often problematic. To incorporate this strategy, you can carry portable fruit (boxes of raisins, dried banana chips, an apple) in your purse or briefcase; opt for a vegetable-heavy dish (broth-based soup or a salad loaded with veggies) for lunch; or add vegetables (tomatoes, pickles, onions, sprouts) to sandwiches.
  • Eat Aware. This strategy is about making an effort to become more mindful when eating—at least once a day. Becoming mindful doesn’t mean you have to assume a lotus position or savor the inner essence of every raisin you consume… it simply means you take a few minutes a day to savor your food, even if it’s just a turkey sandwich on rye. This strategy is also about eating closer to the earth by choosing more whole-foods like fruits and vegetables and fewer packaged foods. To incorporate this strategy, eat while sitting down (driving doesn’t count) and doing nothing else (no TV, email, telephone, or reading) once a day; buy organic and locally-grown foods when you can; read the label on food products and aim for whole foods containing simple ingredients that you understand.
  • Energize in 3-5. This strategy is not only about what you eat but when you eat. For optimal energy levels, eat every three to five hours to stay in “energy balance”—or close to it—throughout the day. To incorporate this strategy, carry your secret weapon to sneak a snack in a hurry; if it’s been more than 4 hours, eat something healthy—even if you’re not hungry yet—to keep your blood sugar from plummeting; or set a reminder on your phone or watch so you don’t go more than five hours without eating.
  • Recharge. Stress can not only make you sick, it can make you gain weight as well. The good news is, you can combat stress in a variety of ways, regardless of how busy you are. To incorporate this strategy, inhale and exhale deeply for two minutes (this will slow your heart rate, breathing and blood pressure, which creates a feeling of relaxation); laugh to diffuse stress (surround yourself with light-hearted, funny people, watch a comedy, or “find the funny” in your daily life); or get a pet–research shows pets are calming and lift spirits.

With the holidays fast approaching, many of us will head out of town on planes, trains, busses, and in cars. Can you share 5 simple, satisfying, nutrient-packed snacks to have when we’re on the go?

I recommend carrying an “Eat Right Survival Stash” for when you’re stuck in traffic and starving, running late for your flight and have no time for breakfast, or on a road trip or traveling by train or bus. That’s where an ER (Eat Right) Survival Stash comes in handy. It’s an emergency plan when the unexpected happens. I suggest you keep an ER Survival Stash in your office/workplace; car; purse or briefcase; and suitcase or carry-on bag.

Here are five suggestions for satisfying, healthy snacks on the go:

  • Go nuts. A 200-calorie “snack pack” of nuts (buy pre-portioned bags or make your own).
  • Bar it. A whole-food bar with minimal processing and ingredients you understand (e.g., SoyJoy, Larabar, or KIND fruit & nut bars).
  • Veg out. Have 1 ounce (1/4 cup) of dried veggies and a small handful (1/2 ounce) of soy nuts for protein.
  • Fruit up. Have 1 ounce (1/4 cup) of preservative-free dried fruit with a small handful (1/2 ounce) of nuts for protein.
  • Seeds please. Have 1 ounce (1/4 cup) of roasted sunflower or pumpkin seeds.

Like these tips? You can enter for a chance to win a free autographed copy (generously donated by the author herself) of Eat Right When Time is Tight by doing one or more of the following:

1) Leave a comment below (you can include your thoughts about the tips, share your own tip, or post a question you’d like me to answer in a future post or in The ZIED GUIDE newsletter;

2) When I mention the book on Twitter, you can RT it;

3) When I mention the book on my Facebook pages, you can post a comment.

Good luck! A winner will be chosen on October 27th from all the entries submitted before 12 noon (EST) that day.

About Patricia Bannan

Patricia Bannan, MS, RD is a nutrition expert and author of Eat Right When Time Is Tight: 150 Slim-Down Strategies and No-Cook Food Fixes (NorLightsPress, 2010). She has appeared as a guest expert on more than thirty news shows, including NBC’s Today show, and served as a health correspondent for CNN. Follow her on Twitter @NutritionGoGo and visit her website at www.patriciabannan.com.

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About The Author

Elisa Zied is a nationally recognized registered dietitian nutritionist, author, speaker, and spokesperson. A trusted source of food, nutrition, and health information, Elisa has garnered millions of media impressions, lending her expertise and real-world perspective to dozens of TV shows, web sites, news organizations and magazines. She’s the author of four nutrition books and is currently working on her first novel. You can find her previous Food, Fitness & Fiction posts here and connect with her on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Facebook.

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