As healthy as you think your diet may be, there are probably a few things you’re overlooking.
It’s not your fault:
Research shows that, in general, we’re really really bad at remembering not only what we’ve eaten but also how much exercise we’ve done throughout the day.
The problem here isn’t just that our memories aren’t reliable — it’s also that we often overlook the calories in many of the foods we eat habitually, from coffee to the occasional handful of granola.
Take this quiz to find out which foods you should eat — and which ones you should avoid — to keep you full and energised throughout the day.
It's Monday morning. Before you leave for the office, do you eat A) a bowl of cereal or B) toast and eggs?
You've been working for a few hours. Your mind is getting foggy and you're fighting off the urge to crawl under your desk with a pillow and blanket. Do you A) head to the kitchen for a coffee or B) put on some tennis shoes and go for a quick stroll around the block?
Instead of grabbing another cup of coffee, try hopping outside for a few minutes.
In addition to avoiding the added sugar and calories, you'll be boosting your brainpower -- walking outside, recent research has shown, helps foster creative thinking and concentration throughout the day.
When you get hungry for a snack, you typically grab A) a handful of granola or B) carrots and hummus?
While often associated with wholesome vegan hippies and long, heart-pumping hikes in the woods, granola is packed with sugar and calories -- a cup can contain up to 600 calories (the same amount as two homemade turkey-and-cheese sandwiches or about four cereal bars).
By comparison, carrots are high in fibre (great for digestion) and Vitamin A (which helps keep skin glowing and eyesight healthy). Pair your crunchy snack with some creamy hummus for a protein boost to tide you over until dinner.
It's lunchtime at the office and you're ravenous, but you have tons of work to do today and not a lot of time to eat. Do you A) order delivery and nosh at your desk or B) take your food outside and eat there?
Whether takeout or a home-cooked meal, your body will benefit from enjoying it outside, where you can concentrate on two things: 1) the taste of your food (which will keep you from overeating) and 2) the great outdoors (outside time boosts creativity, as does boredom -- even if just for a few minutes). Employees who take regular breaks are also more productive throughout the day.
You don't have time to waste!
You've been really good about cutting back on soda. So when it comes time to choose a drink with your meal, you usually go for A) an iced tea or B) a glass of fresh-squeezed OJ?
If you're used to feeling tired about three hours after you eat, your meal could be to blame. Rather than noshing on carb- or fat-heavy foods, eat balanced dishes that are lower in fat and have almost an equal amount of protein and carbohydrates, like a turkey sandwich or a salad with protein-rich nuts or beans.
The protein protects your blood sugar from sharp peaks and falls and keeps your energy levels steady. If three meals like this work for you, great. If you need six smaller ones, that's fine, too.
It's a typical weeknight. You've just gotten home and it's time for dinner. Do you usually A) rummage through the fridge and eat whatever you can find (you're starving) or B) Make yourself a nice fresh salad with some cheese or chicken on top?
If you picked the entire fridge, you were probably also weirded out by questions 1 and 5 of this quiz. If you're skipping breakfast and just snacking for lunch, of course you're starving by the time you get home for dinner.
By the time your appetite gets this big, you probably aren't paying much attention to what you put in your belly.
Instead of avoiding your hunger during the day, take a few breaks to eat and keep snacks at your desk. In addition to curbing your late-night cravings, eating a few healthy meals throughout the day will also help keep your blood-sugar levels steady and keep you from crashing mid-afternoon.
What does your fruit and veggie intake for a week look like? (No, pizza sauce doesn't count as a vegetable). A) 14 to 20 or B) Zero to 14?
If you're not getting at least a couple of servings of fresh fruits and vegetables each day, you're probably not getting the vitamins and fibre you need to keep your immune system functioning at its prime, maintain the health of your skin and nails, and keep your immune system running smoothly.
Think you might not be getting enough? Try throwing some broccoli in with your next dish of pasta or slicing some banana into your morning oatmeal.
On the weekend, your friends want to go to brunch. Do you typically order A) an omelet with toast or B) a fruit-and-granola parfait?
Even if it can't be made with egg whites (which have less calories than eggs, if you're trying to lose weight), you're still getting a more balanced meal with an omelette than you would with the parfait, which can pack just as many calories but, because it's so high in sugar (about 60 grams, or two cans of soda), will leave you crashing and hungry later.
If you're into parfaits, you can still make it at home: Just use fat-free, plain yogurt instead of the sweetened, full-fat kind typically used in restaurants, and substitute the high-sugar, high-calorie granola for a handful of high-fibre cereal.