There are certain nutrients that many busy people need but don't always get enough of.
Iron. If iron stores are low, your red blood cells can't supply as much oxygen to your cells, and the consequence is low energy. Women in particular are more susceptible to low iron levels because of monthly menstrual losses. The best sources are organ meats, red meat (beef and lamb), poultry, pork, fish and eggs. You also get iron in tofu, nuts, seeds, dried beans and lentils, cereal and dried fruit (combine these foods with a source of vitamin C -- such as citrus juice or strawberries -- for better absorption).
Folate. An essential nutrient during pregnancy and for heart health, folate also helps keep your energy levels high. Food sources include dark leafy greens, lentils, black and kidney beans, chickpeas, avocados, sunflower seeds, peanuts and walnuts. This nutrient is destroyed by heat, so, if possible, keep cooking time to a minimum.
Fibre. Eating highly processed foods often means you don't get enough fibre. And every body needs it! Soluble fibre is heart-healthy and beneficial for people who have diabetes. Insoluble fiber helps keep you regular and may help prevent colon cancer. Fibre also fills you up and helps you control your weight.
Calcium. This mineral is important for healthy bones and teeth. For people with hypertension, it may also help lower blood pressure. There's also a potential link between low calcium intake and being overweight. Keep an eye on calcium in your diet, especially if milk is not a favourite food. Cheese is a good source of calcium and so are nutrient-enriched soy beverages.
Healthy eating on the road
• When dining at restaurants, make the healthiest choices possible. For example, if you're out on business and eating late, opt for something light, such as a seafood dish.
• Order dressings and condiments, such as sour cream, salad dressing and sauces, on the side so you have control over how much you put on your food.
• When eating out, make it a habit to order entrées that come with vegetable side dishes -- or order extra veggies on the side.
• Flame-broiled or grilled food is always a healthier choice over deep- or pan-fried food.
• Look for HeartSmart and other healthy eating symbols on restaurant menus.
• Pack a lunch in a cooler instead of stopping for fast food on the highway (try the new electric coolers that plug into your cigarette lighter).
• Drink a lot of water during the day -- it aids digestion and helps keep you regular.
Fast food for busy people
Try these healthy -- and tasty -- substitutes to save fat and calories.
• If you're eyeing a store-bought blueberry muffin, choose a cinnamon raisin bagel instead to save up to 58 calories and 6 g of fat.
• The difference between a Caesar salad with bacon and cheese, and mixed greens with low-fat vinaigrette is 199 calories and 19 g of fat.
• Instead of creamy coleslaw, choose coleslaw made with low-fat vinaigrette to save up to 112 calories and 10 g of fat.
• Got chocolate on the brain? Instead of a chocolate bar, try 1% chocolate milk to save up to 80 calories and 10g of fat.
• Choose air-popped popcorn instead of potato chips to save up to 75 calories and 7 g of fat.
• Munch on pretzel sticks instead of oil-roasted peanuts to save up to 61 calories and 13 g of fat.
• If ice cream is for dessert, leave the chocolate fudge for the kids and choose a fruit sauce. Better still, top it with fresh fruit to save up to 103 calories and 7 g of fat.