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For Busy People: 20 Must-Have Healthy Foods In Your Fridge

For Busy People: 20 Must-Have Healthy Foods In Your Fridge

Does your fridge need a makeover? When you’re tired, short on time, or just plain hungry, having healthy food in your fridge can make junk food cravings vanish instantly. Keeping these 20 must-have healthy foods in your fridge can ensure your body gets the needed nutrients without the gratuitous calories.

1. Eggs

eggs-healthy-breakfast

    Eggs are an excellent breakfast choice and are a go-to source of high-quality protein, nutrients and vitamins. If you’re in a hurry or relaxing at home, eggs are a great way to enjoy your breakfast without feeling bloated or unhealthy. (Sorry waffles!!)

    Plus, they’re inexpensive and filling. If you like a sweeter version, I like to add a dash of cinnamon and vanilla extract to my scrambled eggs! (Like French toast without the bread and sugar!)

    2. Chicken and Lean Meat

    chicken-healthy-dinner

      What is considered “lean meat”? Lean meats are relatively low in fat and are usually skinless. Chicken and other lean meats are essential healthy foods to keep around as they can make a main course pop with just the right ingredients. In a pinch, mix chicken, stir-fried veggies, and soy sauce for a healthier version of take-out.

      3. Apples

      healthiest-foods-for-your-fridge

        What better breakfast, snack, or dessert than a succulent, crisp apple? Not only are apples fiber-laden, but they’re great for helping people lose weight. Try slicing an apple up and tossing it in your morning oatmeal with a dash of cinnamon. You can find a ton of creative recipes, or enjoy them straight out of the fridge!

        4. Yogurt

        greek yogurt-healthy-foods

          Now, before you grab that 200-calorie topping-heavy yogurt with loaded sugars (artificial or not), stop! The best type of yogurt to eat is plain Greek yogurt with added toppings like fruit, nuts, seeds, or a drizzle of honey. (Greek yogurt also makes a great substitution for mayo in chicken salad!) Greek yogurt makes for a satisfying dessert, breakfast, snack — or even dinner!

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          5. Cheese

          cheese-healthy-food

            Cheese lovers, rejoice! Yes, cheese can be a healthy food! You just have to watch your proportions. Low-fat, part-skim string cheese and shredded cheeses are a delicious addition that can add a huge flavor punch to many recipes or on their own (String cheese is my go-to lunch snack; I’m still a child at heart!). Just be sure to eat sparingly — (I know, it’s hard) as cheese can add a lot of fat and sodium to your diet before you can even think to drop the cracker. Treat yourself to a better-quality cheese so you’ll not feel the urge to overindulge.

            heathy-foods

               6. Organic Lunch Meat

              Lunch meat is the traditional work lunch staple, right? But it’s just a grab-and-go food, right? Well, yes, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be one of the healthy foods kept in your fridge. It all comes down to which lunch meat you’re purchasing.

              By purchasing good-quality meats that are grass-fed and/or certified organic, and avoiding harmful ingredients such as aspartame, corn syrup, and sodium nitrate, you’re able to brown-bag your lunch without having to worry that your meal is unhealthy. Add a handful of greens, mozzarella, and tomatoes on whole grain bread for a filling and healthy afternoon choice.

              7. Staple Vegetables (Pre-Cut)

              health-benefits-veggies

                Vegetables are delicious — yes, I said it. I love pairing baby carrots with peanut butter, hummus, or even shredded in my oatmeal. Oatmeal + raisins + carrots = The carrot cake of oatmeal! You can have a whole lot of fun with vegetables; try pairing pre-cut veggies including cucumbers, peppers, and broccoli with your favorite healthy spread. Just avoid the cream-heavy ranch dressings and other sugar-laden dressings.

                8. Hummus

                health-benefits-hummus

                  Hummus, a combination of chickpeas, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and tahini, provides your body with protein and a number of vitamin and minerals. Perfect as a sandwich spread, vegetable dip, or even on pita by itself, hummus is healthy, packed with vitamins, and tasty.

                  9. Nut Butters

                  health-benefits-almonds

                    Often nut butters can get a bad reputation for being nothing but a dessert addition or a sugar-filled snack — but what’s the difference between nut butters and plain old mixed nuts? The added sugar/salt many brands contain. Try buying nut butters without added sugar, salt, oils, or nonsensical chemicals. If you want a little sweetness, try pairing your nut butter with a little drizzle of honey, bananas, or any other sweet fruit. (Peanut butter and strawberry sandwich, anyone?)

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                    10. Mixed Greens

                    mixed greens health benefits

                      Mixed greens, including spinach, romaine lettuce, and kale are perfectly paired with any course of the day and we don’t need to remind you of the whole array of health benefits in your greens. In fact, spinach, a versatile green, is low in fat, high in niacin, zinc, protein, fiber, and a whole variety of vitamins.

                      For lunch or dinner, try adding grilled chicken strips, cut-up veggies and a sprinkle of olive oil and vinegar to salad greens for a heart-healthy, filling meal. For breakfast, try making a frittata with eggs, spinach, and your favorite other veggies/toppings. (Yes, you can even add some cheese!) If you like smoothies, add a handful of spinach or kale to your favorite smoothie, and you won’t even notice the taste of greens.

                      11. Onions

                      oniond

                        Don’t cry, onions are good for you! Onions are a very good source of vitamin C, B6, calcium and fiber. Plus, they contain good amounts of folic acid, vitamin B1 and K.

                        High in beneficial polyphenols, which play an important role in preventing and also reducing the progression of diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases, onions are a necessity for every fridge.

                        For a quick and tasty meal, sauté onions with Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, and ground chicken, and you’ll have a dinner with lots of leftovers.

                        12. Lemons and Limes

                        healthy-foods-lemons

                          But, what can I really do with lemons/limes, you may ask? A whole lot! Lemons and limes are actually great ways to add flavor to your otherwise bland water.They are both excellent sources of vitamin C, B6, potassium, and folate. Plus, if you’re a seafood/poultry lover, add a sprinkle of lime/lemon juice over your food before cooking. Voila!

                          13. Plant-Based Milk

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                          healthy-foods-almond-milks

                            Plant-based milks, whether almond, soy, rice, cashew, hemp, or rice milk, are a kitchen staples that add a huge burst of flavor to any meal. (Did you know an ounce of almonds provides 3.5 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein?)

                            Plant-based milks can be used in a variety of simple or complex recipes and also as a go-to for breakfast cereals, oatmeal, and smoothies. If you want a healthier version of ice cream, try pureeing frozen bananas, honey, and almond milk. You’ll forget all about the heavy milk and cream of normal ice cream.

                            14. Fresh Herbs

                            herbs

                              Put that salt down! Fresh herbs add flavor and freshness to nearly every recipe and most herbs and spices also contain more disease-fighting antioxidants than many fruits and vegetables.

                              Try adding parsley, thyme, sage, dill, and rosemary to your favorite dishes, such as chicken, eggs, and pasta dishes.

                              15. Salsa

                              healthy-food-tomatoes

                                Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C and can also help combat free radicals known to cause cancer. Good-quality salsa can be an excellent addition to handmade tortilla chips, burritos, tacos, and quesadillas.

                                16. Avocados

                                healthy-foods-avocado

                                  Avocados are not only packed with dietary fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and healthy fats (yes, the good kind), but they’re exceptional as a sandwich spread, partner in your guacamole, or on their own with a little salt and pepper.

                                  17. Whole Grains

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                                  healthy-foods-oatmeal

                                    By whole grains, we’re not talking multi-grain; we’re talking whole grains, as in, in contains the entire part of the grain, like oatmeal, quinoa, or brown rice. If you think grains are bland on their own, you can add so much to them to spice them up! Take oatmeal for example: A little bit of plant-based milk, some mixed nuts, dried fruit, and a dash of cinnamon and vanilla extract will make your morning a breeze!

                                    18. Hot Sauce

                                    healthy-foods-hot-sauce

                                      Hot sauce adds a powerful kick to many dishes and offers a boost of vitamin C and capsaicin, found in hot peppers. Aside from the spicy flavor in hot sauce, vitamin C and capsaicin have both been known to assist in boosting your metabolism. For the healthiest option, find an oil-free brand with minimal ingredients, such as chili peppers and vinegar and add it to your shrimp and tomato dish for a healthier version of shrimp creole.

                                      19. Fish

                                      salmon

                                        Many types of fish are high in protein, low in fat, and chock-full of health benefits, including salmon and cod.

                                        Broil it and eat it as your main dish with a little bit salsa on top, or grill on your stovetop with a blend of mixed veggies.

                                        20. Leftovers

                                        chicken skewers

                                          This one may not be classified as a certain “food item,” but leftovers are great for keeping prepared healthy foods around throughout the week.

                                          On Sunday nights, try and prepare a huge meal which can double as weekday dinners and even as tupperware-friendly lunch dishes for work.

                                          Featured photo credit: Zlatko Unger via albumarium.com

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                                          Published on November 14, 2018

                                          Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

                                          Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

                                          With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

                                          For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

                                          In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

                                          Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

                                          Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

                                          It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

                                          For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

                                          Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

                                          Symptoms of Fatigue

                                          Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

                                          • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
                                          • mental blocks
                                          • lack of motivation
                                          • headache
                                          • dizziness
                                          • muscle weakness
                                          • slowed reflexes and responses
                                          • impaired decision-making and judgement
                                          • moodiness, such as irritability
                                          • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
                                          • reduced immune system function
                                          • blurry vision
                                          • short-term memory problems
                                          • poor concentration
                                          • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

                                          Causes of Fatigue

                                          The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

                                          • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
                                          • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
                                          • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
                                          • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

                                          Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

                                          Medical Causes of Fatigue

                                          If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

                                          Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

                                          Anemia

                                          Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

                                          Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

                                          There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

                                          Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

                                          Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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                                          This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

                                          Diabetes

                                          Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

                                          Sleep Apnea

                                          Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

                                          Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

                                          Thyroid disease

                                          An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

                                          Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

                                          • Lack of sleep
                                          • Too much sleep 
                                          • Alcohol and drugs 
                                          • Sleep disturbances 
                                          • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
                                          • Poor diet 

                                          Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

                                          • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
                                          • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
                                          • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
                                          • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

                                          Psychological Causes of Fatigue

                                          Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

                                          • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
                                          • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
                                          • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

                                          How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

                                          Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

                                          1. Tell The Truth

                                          Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

                                          To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

                                          Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

                                          The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

                                          One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

                                          • How you feel
                                          • What time of day it is
                                          • What may have contributed to your fatigue
                                          • How your mind and body reacts

                                          This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

                                          2. Reduce Your Commitments

                                          When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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                                          If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

                                          When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

                                          Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

                                          3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

                                          If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

                                          Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

                                          If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

                                          Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

                                          Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

                                          4. Express More Gratitude

                                          Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

                                          It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

                                          Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

                                          5. Focus On Yourself

                                          Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

                                          There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

                                          But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

                                          We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

                                          6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

                                          Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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                                          Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

                                          The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

                                          Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

                                          7. Take a Power Nap

                                          When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

                                          Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

                                          This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

                                          8. Take More Exercise

                                          The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

                                          Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

                                          The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

                                          You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

                                          9. Get More Quality Sleep

                                          To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

                                          Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

                                          My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

                                          10. Improve Your Diet

                                          Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

                                          Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

                                          On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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                                          To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

                                          Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

                                          Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

                                          11. Manage Your Stress Levels

                                          Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

                                          When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

                                          Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

                                          My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

                                          12. Get Hydrated

                                          Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

                                          Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

                                          If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

                                          The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

                                          The Bottom Line

                                          These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

                                          If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

                                          Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

                                          Reference

                                          [1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
                                          [2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
                                          [3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
                                          [4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
                                          [5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
                                          [6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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