The millennial’s guide to eating healthy on a budget

Do you lead an erratic schedule with no fixed time for meals? You’re not alone — blame it on the millennial lifestyle that’s overworked, under-slept and half-satiated. With never-ending to-do lists and sky-high goals to achieve, our diet almost always takes a back seat, and despite our best intentions, we often end up making poor decisions. ELLE spoke to nutritionist Hena Nafis who gave us a low-down on easily-accessible healthy foods that are budget-friendly to ensure that your diet is not an impediment to your high-paced life. Whether you’re a millennial who’s obsessed with fitness or one who’s always working late in office, this food guide to eating healthy will help you navigate days when all you can think about is a pizza.

 1. The best breakfast for lazy people

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As they say, your breakfast is the most important meal of your day. But if you’re someone who’s always running late, Hena suggests grabbing a bowl of unsweetened yogurt with either cereal or fruits. “Boiling eggs is an easy process that doesn’t require much effort, and it’s a good source of protein. You can also pick a smoothie or granola bars from a healthy store — ensure you check the labels and pick items that are low on sugar and fat.” Stick to the average calorie intake for breakfast, which is between 400 to 600, says Hena.

2. For millenials who’re always on the go

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Some of us are always on the road. From one meeting to another, it’s difficult to find time to peacefully eat a meal. “Going without food for long is not an advisable option. If you can’t take out time for lunch, ensure you’re carrying snacks like granola bars, nuts, peanuts, almonds or crackers in your bag that’ll give you enough energy. Make sure you’re hydrated; water should be your go-to drink at all times. Other options are buttermilk and fresh juices,” says Hena.

3. The 4pm snack  

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4pm is a tricky time when most of us start feeling hungry — we’ve just had lunch, and it’s a long time for dinner. “While some people opt for coffee or tea with biscuits — options that are all laden with sugar — others pick snacks like sandwiches or chips. The ideal food should be low in calories and more in volume, so millennials who want light snacks can look at: unsalted popcorn, fox nuts, peanuts, roasted chana and other nuts like almonds and walnuts. Those looking for something more filling can opt for wholewheat sandwiches that are rich in protein, unsweetened yoghurt and hummus with lavash,” says Hena.

4. For the fitness junkies

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For gym junkies and novices alike, Hena advises fuelling yourself before and after a workout. “Never workout on an empty stomach as you will end up losing muscle instead of burning fat. As a pre-workout snack, have a fruit like a banana or a meal that’s rich in carbohydrates. Post your workout, incorporate protein and fat both — so you can have a protein shake or a smoothie with fruit, a toast or protein snack bars sans sugar and fat,” she says. Hena recommends avoiding carbohydrates loaded with fat as that slows down digestion.

5. For those with a sweet tooth

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If you’ve just finished your meal and are craving something sweet, identify if that craving is physical hunger or emotional hunger. “Physical hunger is when the body is running low on fuel. Most of the time, it’s just comfort food we’re seeking when we crave sweets like chocolates, cookies and brownies,” says Hena. “Opt for healthy sweets like dates, figs and raisins that have natural sugar. A small helping of dark chocolate is another option,” she adds. According to Hena, excessive sugar craving is caused by a hormonal imbalance or stress. “Ensure that you’re consuming your vitamins.”

6. For workaholics who’re always stressed out

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“For those working at stressful jobs, try consuming fatty fishes, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds and nuts like walnuts (these are rich in magnesium and help in calming down the brain). If you feel irritated, stressed or depressed for no reason and lack energy to get through days, you may be deficient in minerals like iron or vitamins like D3 or B12. Include supplements like Omega 3 that help you deal with depression and particular foods like red meat and eggs that improve your B12 levels,” says Hena.

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