The Born Freelancer’s guide to healthy eating – Part 3

This series of posts by the Born Freelancer shares personal experiences and thoughts on issues relevant to freelancers. Have something to add to the conversation? Your input is welcome in the comments.

Over the past two weeks I have looked at some of the ways freelancers can improve their diets in order to maintain their health and ability to work. Today, the final part of my conversation with Heather Douglas, a Registered Dietitian currently employed in-house at Loblaws supermarkets.



THE BORN FREELANCER:  Another aspect of the freelancing lifestyle is often our limited or fluctuating financial resources. I talk about my good work years as my sushi years and my less remunerative years as my Kraft Dinner years! Any advice about eating healthy on a freelancer’s limited budget?

HEATHER DOUGLAS:  Look for nutrient-density. Sugary candy tends to be of low nutrient quality. You want to load up on fruits and vegetables. Whole grains. Lean meats. This way you get more bang for your buck. Buy in-season. That can be a huge factor in cost savings. The Canadian Produce Marketing Association has a produce availability guide to help determine when fruits and vegetables are in season. Look for sales, read the flyers. Buying in bulk can help. Things like rice or beans or lentils. A huge bag of lentils can be very cheap. They are a great source of protein, of fiber, and are very nutrient-dense. If you can buy dry, all the better. If you buy canned the worry is that there is a higher sodium content. Rinse it under water and you could get rid of up to almost half of its sodium content. Frozen vegetables are good for people on a budget or single people who might not get through fresh vegetables in time before they spoil. Buy frozen, it’s flash frozen and just as good as fresh. And they tend to be cheaper. Berries are a good antioxidant and a good source of fiber. Frozen can be put in a smoothie, thawed out on cereal, whatever, it’s a good option.

You should also know how to store food. You don’t want to waste food. We throw away too much rotting food that we never get around to eating. You should wash lettuce before you store it. Other vegetables you only wash when you’re ready to eat them in order to retain shelf life. Bananas and other fruit give off a type of gas as they ripen so if they sit on your shelf near other vegetables it speeds up the ripening process of food stored around them. Keep them separate.



TBF:  I don’t know if alcohol consumption is greater among freelancers than non-freelancers but it sometimes seems that way to me! But I’ve read studies that suggest alcohol isn’t so bad and might even be good for you.

HD:  You may’ve read about heart health benefits of red wine but if you don’t drink already the evidence of beneficial effects is not strong enough to suggest you start. If it’s in your diet already, moderation should be the key. Alcohol has seven calories per gram so that adds up quickly. It’s also an empty calorie source. So there’s little nutritional benefit from it. Added to a sedentary lifestyle alcohol could contribute to significant weight gain.



TBF:  Finally, what words of advice would you like to leave with us?


* Balancing meals and snacks. Make sure what you are eating is the proper balance and at the right times of day. Remember the picture of that plate again, so make sure it is half vegetables, a quarter protein, and a quarter starch. Snack between meals when there are big gaps if you need to bridge.

* In general people are just not eating enough fruit and vegetables. Two handfuls at lunch, two at dinner, or in a snack choice but make sure it’s in there. Smoothies are a good option with a little spinach or greens and some strong flavoured fruit to help mask the taste of the vegetables. That’s an easy way some people get their fruit and vegetables.

And vegetables should outweigh your fruit. When I tell people to increase their fruit and vegetables they all want to increase their fruit! That’s the exciting one. But you want your vegetable intake to outweigh your fruit intake. It’s about fiber and nutrients.

* Plan your diet. A healthy diet is achievable. So many people think their lifestyle keeps them from eating healthy. That they work too many hours, that they don’t have the right equipment at home. There are so many things you can do to help. Buy a crock pot or a wok. Get a rice cooker. When you’re working it’s taking care of itself. You can make the time to eat well if you plan. Prep your vegetables ahead of time and leave them in the fridge so they are ready to go when you need to grab a quick snack. So you can dip a red pepper in some humus and go. You can grab some lettuce that you’ve pre-washed. Put in some cherry tomatoes. A chicken breast that you’ve precooked. Keep it all in a zip lock bag in the fridge and pull it out and you’ve got a great salad. It’s all about planning and that enables you to have a healthy diet. Batch prepare so you’re preparing several meals ahead of time at once and store them in the fridge.

* Nutrition needs to be looked at as a whole. There’s always something new coming along, all sorts of research and studies and we have to look at nutrition with a critical eye. At the end of the day it’s a big tangled web how it all works together despite all the research. If we get too focused on one specific nutrient it’s not so helpful. It’s the diet as a whole that matters when it comes to the its impact on stress and on the negative aspects of the sedentary lifestyle, heart disease, etc. It’s the big picture that really matters.

TBF:  Heather recommends searching  (the official website of the Dietitians of Canada) as well as for more dietary information and practical tips on eating healthy.

My sincere thanks to Heather Douglas for our wide-ranging and informative discussion. And to Loblaws for providing in-house dietitians to facilitate customer education. I don’t know about you but I feel better just knowing there is so much more I can do to take control and cope with the vagaries of my freelancing lifestyle. Imagine how much better I’ll feel when I actually start doing something about it as well!

Posted on October 31, 2012 at 10:37 am by editor · · Tagged with: , ,

One Response

Subscribe to comments via RSS

  1. Written by Mikki
    on February 1, 2024 at 9:07 am
    Reply · Permalink

    Thanks for sharing

Subscribe to comments via RSS

Leave a Reply