The diet designed for busy women

woman eating packed lunch

Click here for the busy woman's diet 14-day menu plan

The desire to lose weight is usually top of many women's wish lists, but in reality following a diet can easily fall by the wayside when there are so many pressing demands on our time. That's why we asked nutritionist Penny Rushton to create a simple healthy eating plan for busy women - one that doesn't require multiple trips to the supermarket for special ingredients, or involve hours of preparation.

"Busy, anxious lives can cause an overproduction of the body's stress hormones," explains Penny. "And high and prolonged levels of these can lead to a variety of health problems, including high blood sugar, high blood pressure, decreased bone density and increased abdominal fat. To counter these effects, you need to follow a high-nutrient diet, incorporating vitamins A, C, E, the B complex, calcium, magnesium, zinc and selenium." (See our Top Slimming Nutrients list below.)

Just making simple food swaps can help speed up your metabolism. Try, for instance, replacing white rice with brown, as this slow-release carbohydrate will maintain energy levels for longer. Also include more stress-combating foods to aid your immune system, such as garlic, celery, almonds and sunflower seeds. And, to enable your body to burn fat as fuel, you need essential fatty acids, which are found in oily fish and nuts. What's more, by including protein at every meal it will help keep blood sugar levels stable, reducing the temptation to snack. "Making packed lunches and cooking in batches is also a must for any busy woman," adds Penny.

Penny Rushton DNN, RSHom practises at the Hale Clinic in London. Call 0781 745 3638; 020 7580 3536

Top slimming nutrients

● Betacarotene and vitamin A - to lower cholesterol levels and boost immunity. Found in carrots, squash, red peppers, spinach.
● Vitamin C - to improve immunity and regulate cholesterol metabolism. Found in green leafy veg, broccoli, citrus fruit, tomatoes.
● Vitamin E - to protect cell membranes. Found in avocados, olives, tahini, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds.
● Vitamin B complex - to boost the release of energy from carbohydrate metabolism. Found in liver, egg yolks, wholegrains.
● Magnesium - to regulate blood sugar levels and boost energy. Found in nuts, sunflower seeds, bananas and dried apricots.
● Calcium - to help prevent fat absorption. Found in tinned sardines and salmon, watercress, carrots, yoghurt, cheese, tahini, almonds and dried figs.
● Iodine - to help support thyroid function and therefore boost metabolism. Found in seafood.
● Chromium - to maintain blood sugar levels. Found in yoghurt, mushrooms, wholegrains, meat, cheese, beetroot, grapes, raisins.

The rules
● Eat three meals a day, evenly spaced throughout the day.
● Drink about two litres of water daily, in addition to herbal teas and soups.
● Eat protein at every meal to keep blood sugar levels stable.
● Include essential fatty acids (oily fish, nuts) in meals.
● Eat as many green vegetables as you like, but fruit is only allowed in moderation (every other day), as it is high in natural sugars and calories.
● Avoid sugar, caffeine, refined foods, processed foods and any added salt.
● You can have only one small daily glass of wine with your evening meal.
● Plan all your meals in advance to avoid temptation.
● Incorporate some exercise into your daily routine, such as 30 minutes of brisk walking or cycling.

Click here for the busy woman's diet 14-day menu plan

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