by Karen Esrick, Certified Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor, and Holistic Health Coach

You work hard, striving for balance between the workplace and the workout room. You know it’s important to feed your body the right fuel, but all of your choices can make it feel overwhelming. Carbs? No carbs. Mixing certain proteins and certain fats? Only organic? Vegetarian? Vegan? What about using protein supplements? How many calories? High fiber? Too much sodium? Dairy? No dairy.

It may feel impossible to eat right at times, but I have good news. It doesn’t need to be so difficult.

Don’t let the choices overwhelm you; the beauty of all of this is that you have choices. You have the power to choose what works for you and your body, and what you decide to be the fuel for your life. As a Holistic Health Coach, Certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor, I abide by 4 key rules.

1. An all or nothing approach is not a good approach; moderation is key.

2. If you cannot pronounce the ingredients in what you are about to eat, you probably shouldn’t be eating it.

3. Decide ahead of time what and how much you are going to eat – especially when you are snacking!

4. Chew your food!  This one may sound silly, but when was the last time you actually spent more than 20 minutes eating a meal? If you are chewing your food slowly and consciously, as opposed to what has become the common standard “shovel & swallow” technique, you may feel full with less food. Slow, conscious eating increases your feeling of satiety.

A snack needs to be fast, efficient and filling. Here are a few of my favorite pre-workout snacks:

:: 2 tbsp. of all natural peanut butter spread on half an apple
:: Half of an avocado spread over five whole wheat crackers 
:: 2 tbsp. of almond butter spread over celery with craisins
:: Frozen grapes
:: Plain non-fat greek yogurt with cinnamon
:: Make your own trail mix with a handful of almonds, walnuts, all-natural coconut, dried apricot, and pumpkin seeds
:: Dip the tips of strawberries or coat blueberries in non-fat Greek yogurt and let freeze
:: If you have a protein bar (as a snack), be sure to read the label. Protein bars can be a great “on the go” snack option, but they can also turn into sugar traps. Find a bar that has 200 calories or less, has less than 10 grams of fat, and at least 4 grams of fiber. I also highly recommend taking a look at the list of ingredients; if high-fructose syrup is on top of their list, it should be on the bottom of yours.

Fuel your body right. Proper nutrition is key to getting the results you want and feeling your best. Happy snacking!