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Maintain a healthy balance

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Would you describe you work-life balance as ‘precarious’? It is little wonder, given the time of year. Eating right will give you a better chance to make it through the silly season unscathed.

This time of year, it’s not only the turkey that’s been stuffed. An onslaught of corporate functions and year-end deadlines will no doubt have you feeling exhausted and leave you with little enthusiasm – or energy – for non-work life.

But is there a way to strike a balance between professional and personal? Or, more importantly, is there a way to ensure that you’re going to be able to handle it all?

Sarah Green believes having healthy eating habits not only makes you look and feel good, but they give you the physical and mental resources to deal with running a business (and a family) more efficiently.

Green certainly knows a thing or two about eating healthy. Now a regular on the speaking circuit, she runs healthy cooking classes to show people just how easy it is to eat right, and develops corporate programs such as the recipes and eating plan for the Karma Yoga Detox program.

For Green though, eating healthy is not simply a professional concern, it’s a personal one. Suffering from what turned out to be an endocrine disorder, Green was too weak to walk, let alone work. After several misdiagnoses, she took matters into her own hands. She cut out all processed foods, sugar, alcohol and caffeine in an effort to get well. After a short period, she was back on track. While her diet is not as strict these days – Green happily admits she’s partial to a few wines on the odd occasion – proof that eating well equates with living well.

She offers the following tips for a healthy work-life balance:

1. Don’t skip breakfast, ever. Try a boiled egg on whole-wheat toast, or bircher muesli with some extra nuts.

2. Try to have protein with every meal. Think egg, nuts, legumes (lentils, chickpeas, hummus), chicken, fish and red meat.

3. Follow the 80/20 rule – 80 per cent of the time eat as healthily as you possibly can, and for the other 20 per cent, cut yourself some slack. Having some treats, a few Christmas drinks, or the occasional dessert is not that bad! If you have enjoyed it, don’t regret it.

For this holiday period, a word of advice – healthy food after too many Chrissie spirit drinks will make you feel better faster (for a sure-fire recovery, include protein in your post-binge breakfast).

5. If you are going to snack, make it healthy. Try a piece of fruit with some raw almonds, or hummus and carrot sticks. A good trick is to keep a resealable bag of almonds with you.

6. Be organised. It seems obvious, but it’s what most people struggle with, and this is their excuse for not eating well. Transpose those work organisational skills to home – just as you wouldn’t show up to a meeting unprepared, you shouldn’t dream of facing the day unprepared food-wise. To save time, write a weekly menu and shopping list, and stick to it.

7. Don’t diet. And, more importantly following the silly season, don’t do random, unsupervised detoxs. These will do you more harm then good. Simply learn new eating habits.

8. Take your lunch when you can. It saves you money and is usually healthier than what you would be tempted to buy.

9. Cook a healthy dinner, even if you live on your own. It establishes good food habits, and it’s important to make an effort.

10. When you eat out, go for the healthiest option. Instead of having two courses, have a main with a big salad. Also, have lots of water with your wine (a little wine is justified by the 80/20 rule). You’ll be a lot more productive in the morning.

11. Entertain at home more. You spend so much time at work, it’s important to make home time quality time. Being with family and friends is health food for your soul and makes you realise what is important in life. If you cook for your friends and family, make it healthy – try a warm chicken salad. It’s easy to prepare and is a fail-safe crowd pleaser.

12. Exercise. It makes you feel great, and the better you feel about your body, the less likely you are to put bad things into it. It’s also a great way to clear your head – so you can go back to tasks or the family with better attitude.

Published on: Thursday, June 18, 2009

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