I had a buddy once who was interested in becoming a private investigator and wanted to do a ride-along. This was years ago now, but I clearly recall him asking me at one point, “What time do we order the Chinese food to the car?”
It’s a funny but widely-held Hollywood stereotype of the PI at work: rumpled guys in cars swilling black coffee and cramming down greasy takeout food. Sadly, stereotypes often contain kernels of truth.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Eating right is as easy as 1+2+3+4 = MORE FOOD, MORE MUSCLE & LESS FAT. Here are your categories to remember:
1. Lean Protein
- Egg whites
- Cottage cheese
- Lean beef
- Protein powder
- Non-fat tofu
- Turkey bacon
- High-fiber fruits
- Bran cereals
- Black beans
- Brown rice
- Slow oatmeal
- Wheat bread
- Fiber One
- Plain yogurt
- Wheat tortilla
- Natural nut butters
- Sunflower seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Olive oil
- Canola oil
- Lt salad dressing
- Egg yolk
- Colored peppers
- Green beans
- Romaine lettuce
Your basic meal plan for a day should follow this simple guide:
- Breakfast – 1+2
- Snack – 1+3+4 or meal replacement
- Lunch – 1+2+4
- Snack – 1+3+4 or meal replacement
- Dinner – 1+3+4
- Snack – 1+3
Breakfast: Egg-white omelet and 1/2 grapefruit
Lunch: Turkey and tomato slices rolled up in a whole-wheat tortilla
Dinner: Salmon filet on a bed of sauteed spinach and couscous
On-the-go snacks: Carrot spears, cherry tomatoes, almonds, a small salad
The key is portion control. For proteins, a single serving (of lean beef or chicken, say) should be about the size of your palm. A single portion of carbohydrates would be about fist size, and fats should be about thumb size. Load up on vegetables and eat a variety of them—a handful is fine. Make it interesting by changing it every day.
Don’t forget that fruits contain carbohydrates. If you’re trying to lose weight, try to stick to the low-glycemic fruits (i.e. those lower in sugar) such as blackberries, apples, blueberries, plums, pears, kiwi, peaches, strawberries, cherries, and oranges. Remember that as milk, soy, and beans contain both proteins and carbs.
Make your meals the night before or a couple days in advance and store in Tupperware or to-go boxes so you’re ready to head out quickly in the morning. And if you’re still dead-set on Chinese takeout on that surveillance job, trick yourself by packing a salad in a Chinese takeout box, then eat it with chopsticks. It’s actually fun, and it forces you to slow down and concentrate on each bite.
You’d be amazed at how much these small psychological tricks can help—e.g. smaller plate, smaller portions.
If you find yourself on the road without a lunch packed (or you want to pick up a quick dinner), you still have options beyond a drive-through Big Mac. Try using your smart phone to find a sandwich shop nearby. Phone your order in, and make sure you ask for whole grain bread and lean meats. Skip the cheese, and load up on veggies and non-fat or low-calorie condiments.
Panera is one of my favorite quick phone-in sandwich places, and it’s usually pretty easy to find one nearby. A wonderful turkey sandwich on whole grain with lettuce, tomato, onion and mustard (hold the mayo and salt) and swap the chips for an apple—and you’re enjoying a great dinner that’s not only healthy for you, it’s reasonably priced (around $6). When you arrive, don’t look for that parking spot right up front; take a walk across the parking lot and breathe some fresh air. Take your time as you are doing this for yourself. And don’t forget to drink lots of water! Skip the soft drinks and sweet tea.
Remember: Eating better doesn’t have to be absolute. Old habits die hard, but anything is better than fast food and processed junk. With a little planning, you can start enjoying delicious healthy meals and snacks right away. You’ll see the difference in your waistline and your powers of concentration on surveillance.
Next month, let’s look at working out after a long day of work or while on the road.