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Busy executives often skip breakfast and eat lunch on the go when they have available time. They also tend to spend a lot of time eating at restaurants and dining on foods that are high in calories and fat. Such dietary habits place the executive at high risk for obesity, diabetes, heart attack and other disorders, and invariably ensures that the executive's health remains inversely proportionate to career advancement.
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Protein-rich foods improve alertness by increasing the body’s dopamine and norepinephrine levels. Executives must be alert and focused during working hours, and as such, should opt for protein-rich foods such as whole grain toast, hard-boiled eggs, lean meat burgers, chicken, turkey and yogurt.
Foods such as walnuts, almonds, blueberries, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and wild salmon improve memory by nourishing the brain with micronutrients and chemicals. Such foods also help to prevent cell damage and inflammation. Consumption of pumpkin and sunflower seeds may also help to reduce anxiety. Include these foods on a regular basis on your daily menu.
A diet that is filled with fresh fruits and vegetables will help to maintain acid-alkaline balance. Opt for alkaline foods such as broccoli, carrots, cabbage, cucumber, eggplant, sprouts, tomatoes and wild greens for increased energy levels.
The naturally occurring simple carbohydrates in fruits and vegetables are a healthier alternative to complex carbohydrates found in whole grains, legumes, and vegetables. Foods such as beans, sweet potato, bananas and walnuts contain simple carbohydrates. They are are rich in fiber, which helps to improve digestion and provide a feeling of fullness for a longer period. Most of these foods are also tasty snacks or meals in their own right.
Foods rich in complex carbohydrates, such as potatoes, pasta, vegetables and rice will help you to sleep well. Consume such foods for dinner for a sound sleep after a busy day.
Grab a quick snack at periodic intervals, especially before meetings or starting a major assignment. Make sure to stack up on healthy choices, such as a granola bar, bite-size vegetables, fruits and dry fruits rather than unhealthy cookies or candy. Pack a sandwich or salad as a mini meal or a between-meal snack.
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Foods to Avoid
Eat red meat only in moderation, and choose cuts that have been deemed extra-lean by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA has labeled 29 cuts of beef lean, indicating that they contain less than 10 g of fat, 4.5 g of saturated fat and 95 mg of cholesterol in one 3 oz. serving. Five cuts have been labeled as extra-lean, including top sirloin, eye of the round, sirloin tip, top round and bottom round. These five cuts contain less than 5 g of fat, 2 g of saturated fat and 95 mg of cholesterol.
Despite the lean cuts of beef, chicken, fish, seafood and salads are almost always healthier alternatives.
Avoid salt, as it adds to hypertension and increases the risk of heart attacks. Natural herbs and spices are healthier alternatives.
Avoid fast food and processed foods, such as burgers and fries. The negative health consequences of fast foods are well-known, and executives who care for their health need to avoid such foods. Foods rich in sugar cause fluctuations in blood sugar that make energy levels plummet, and foods rich in calories and fat induce obesity, besides other negative consequences. If unavoidable, opt for the low-carb, baked, grilled or salad options on the menu.
High fat component in meals cause obesity. Cut the percentage of fat in the diet by avoiding dishes that contain animal fat, butter, lard and coconut oil. Opt for unsaturated fats from corn, safflower, sesame and soybean. Be mindful of the amount you consume, because even the healthiest fats add calories.
Consume alcohol only in moderation, especially during executive luncheons and dinners. Alcohol can quickly deplete the body’s store of B vitamins and can interfere with proper functioning of the nervous system, leading to irritability and nervousness. Caffeine in cola, coffee and chocolate can have a similar effect.
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A good executive diet plan is incomplete without adopting some healthy eating tips and strategies, such as:
- Follow the healthy eating guidelines provided in the food pyramids to plan your menu. Find out how many calories you burn on a normal day by selecting appropriate activity levels and plan your diet accordingly.
- Try not to skip meals. If you cannot avoid skipping a meal, compensate by consuming healthy snacks frequently.
- Patronize restaurants that cook to order. Order lean meats, steamed or grilled vegetables, and go easy on your butter and salt consumption.
- Opt for low-calorie or vegetarian meals when traveling by air. Make the request for special meals to the airline in advance.
Diet is one of the most underestimated factors in the quest to achieve success.
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- Verve. Food for the Fast Track: "The Healthy Executive’s Diet." Retrieved from http://books.google.co.in/books?id=vP5PdwNkVB8C&pg=PA262&lpg=PA262&dq=healthy+executive+diet&source=bl&ots=GJjPSTolbL&sig=vebXPZZ47UZnbAsuaan8TZc_qo8&hl=en&ei=9SMnToqLNI6nrAfunoCBCw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCUQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=healthy%20executive%20diet&f=false on July 20, 2011.
- MedicineNet. “Eat to Boost Mental Alertness." Retrieved from http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=56583 on July 20, 2011.