It isn’t easy to work in the trades. The work is physically taxing, and the workday can stretch on into the evening. As a result, contractors and other tradespeople often have misconceptions about the food they eat. Either they believe that they can eat anything because they will “burn it off” on the job site, or they settle for whatever food is available because their schedules don’t allow for long breaks.
Unfortunately, these lines of reasoning often lead to the fast-food drive-up window, where it can be challenging to find a healthy meal. Even with recent trends moving toward more nutritious selections at the restaurants we visit, the fat, calories and salt in some dishes is alarming. For reference, the USDA recommends about 2,800 calories per day for an active 40-year-old male. A Wendy’s Triple with large fries and a Coke delivers a whopping 1,900 calories – nearly 70 percent of the day’s suggested caloric intake in a single meal!
Plus, all that heavy food can slow you down as you go back to work after lunch. It’s hard to concentrate on the task at hand when you’re feeling sluggish, and being tired on the job site can be dangerous for both you and your coworkers. Productivity also suffers, stretching out projects and squeezing deadlines.
Worst of all, storing those extra calories that you don’t burn up can cause you to become overweight, which increases your chances for heart attack, stroke and respiratory issues. On the other hand, with how much physical activity you can get in the trades, it can be fairly easy to get into shape if you adopt an athlete’s mentality when it comes to eating.
Plan For Success
Thankfully, it’s not nearly as hard as it seems to maintain a smart food plan. Here are some simple tips for eating healthy when you’ve got a tough job and a tight schedule.
1. Make breakfast a priority.
If you start your day’s input properly, you’ll have plenty of energy until lunch. Give yourself enough time to do this meal right, and you won’t have to grab something unhealthy (donuts have little nutritional value, but neither do some granola bars). Plan ahead, and you won’t be playing catch-up, which can cause you to overeat at lunch.
2. Look for good carbs.
As much as 85 percent of the calories we burn come from carbohydrates, but not all carbs are the same. “Bad” carbs from foods like sugar and potatoes give us short bursts of energy that fade quickly. Carbs from foods like oats, whole grains and beans last longer, giving you energy for hours.
3. Pack your own lunch.
Not only is it easier to control the ingredients, it’s less expensive in the long run. Sandwiches are okay as long as you don’t get carried away with deli meats (which can have a lot of sodium and fat). Stick with chicken or turkey, and consider whole wheat bread or a tortilla shell. Instead of chips, pack a boiled egg or some vegetables.
4. Don’t let snacks get you off track.
Pack easy-to-eat finger foods so you’re not tempted to go for that bag of candy bars somebody brought from home. Fruit is the obvious choice here, with grapes and apples being some of the most convenient. Almonds are also a healthy snack.
5. Watch what you drink.
Water is the perfect beverage. Drink plenty of it and do what you can to avoid sugary soda and sports drinks. They don’t do a good job of quenching your thirst, and they can blow up your daily calorie intake pretty quickly. Also, stay far away from energy drinks that are packed with sugar and caffeine.
Instead of looking at a healthy food plan as giving up the foods you love, look at it as an opportunity to find new foods you love. Just as successful athletes carefully balance their input and output in order to maximize their performance, a little planning can give you more energy on the job site and fewer reasons to take sick days.
Here are some easy food ideas to keep you productive during the workday.
• Oatmeal with fruit
• Scrambled egg with toast
• Turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread
• Tuna pita sandwich (with low-fat dressing)
• Chicken wraps with veggies
• Sliced apples and peanut butter
Go Fast Without getting Furious
Surprise! There are healthy meals to be found at fast-food restaurants. Here are a few of them:
Burger King: Hamburger
230 Calories, 9 g fat, 460 mg sodium
McDonald’s: Egg McMuffin
300 calories, 12 g fat, 730 mg sodium
Taco Bell: Two Fresco Soft Beef Tacos
470 calories, 17g fat, 1,760 mg sodium
Domino’s: Grilled Chicken And Jalapeño Pizza On Brooklyn-style Crust
390 calories, 15 g fat, 1,090 mg sodium (2 slices)
KFC: Kentucky Grilled Chicken Breast With Sweet Corn And Green Beans
340 calories, 7 g fat, 990 mg sodium
Sources:http://www.initiafy.com/news/labourers-best-food-to-keep-your-energy-high, http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/construction-worker-lunch-ideas-11067.html, https://www.leaf.tv/articles/sack-lunch-ideas-for-the-working-man/, http://www.livestrong.com/article/290380-meal-plans-for-a-man-performing-hard-physical-work/, https://www.cnpp.usda.gov/sites/default/files/usda_food_patterns/EstimatedCalorieNeedsPerDayTable.pdf, http://www.today.com/health/14-best-fast-food-meals-under-500-calories-1B6066324, http://www.eatthis.com/healthiest-dish-to-order-at-20-fast-food-chain