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Sukanya Mitra

Move Over Starbucks

There's a new drink in town and it's just for CPAs.

March 12, 2012
by Sukanya Mitra

April 17 is around the corner, which means crunch time is at its peak for CPAs who do tax return preparation. But that doesn’t mean that munch time should consist of a Starbucks grande and a Big Mac. While these may fill you up and keep you awake late at night to ensure you can meet deadlines, they’re not the best fuel for your body.

Nutritious and Tasty

We realize that during tax season, the last thing you want to worry about is food. And yet, proper nutrition is needed to provide brain power so that you don’t keel over with exhaustion.

Apparently the old adage, an apple a day keeps the doctor away, was not an old wives’ tale after all. Andrea Dietzen, wellness manager at purewellness.com, suggests toting healthy snack bars, fruits such as apples and bananas and ready-to-eat lunch items, such as tuna fish or low-salt soups to work as these items are easily storable at your desk. “Picking items that have a good amount of protein and fiber will keep you feeling satisfied for longer periods of time, and will help you avoid getting overly hungry and bingeing on fast food,” she said.

Susan Schenck, author of The Live Food Factor and The Comprehensive Guide to the Ultimate Diet for Body, Mind, Spirit & Planet, agrees with the apple diet. She says that she was appalled when a co-worker told her that he had managed his diet and kept his ideal weight on an apple a day. But years later, when she was working 10-hour shifts at a job that provided her with only a half-hour lunch break, that one-apple lunch provided her with the fiber and Vitamin C as well as the sweetness and satisfaction to last her until day’s end. In fact, as she was conducting research for one of her books she found that apples not only have five grams of fiber, they stabilize blood sugar and, “contain anti-inflammatory and anticancer phytonutrients [and …]  are high in potassium, which help rid the body of water-retaining sodium.”

If an apple just won’t cut it for you, Schenck says you can opt for baby carrots and other vegetables that are low in calories and yet satisfying, such as celery, zucchini and cucumber sticks with some plain yogurt or one to two teaspoons of ranch dressing. Another option is to dip them in hummus, which is a good option for diabetics as well.

Dietzen advised against denying your sweet tooth its treats by balancing them with healthier options. “If Starbucks is a ‘treat’ that helps you get through your day, try [swapping] a White Chocolate Mocha, which gives you 400 calories and 11 grams of fat, [with] a nonfat latte that comes in at only 130 calories and zero grams of fat. You can add on the chicken and hummus bistro box to equal the same caloric intake as the white mocha, but you will stay full and more alert for a much longer time due to the protein boost.”

Other lean palate pleasers include:

  • The Movie Favorite — Popcorn. According WebMD.com, popcorn (without the added butter) is not only high in fiber making you feel fuller longer, some microwave brands have just 100 calories in six cups. And because “you have to chew it, it's satisfying,” noted Joan Salge Blake, RD.
  • Cottage Cheese and Cantaloupe. WebMD.com also points out that a mere half cup of cottage cheese packs in 14 grams of protein, which like fiber, will keep you energized and full. Adding a small wedge of cantaloupe can give you added texture and taste and still keep your calories to 100.
  • Bananas. Says Natasha Schamberger, CPA, AICPA technical manager, “slice a banana and have with one tablespoon of all natural peanut butter. This is quick and easy, fills you up and satisfies that sweet craving!”
  • Cheese n’ Crackers. Three whole-grain crackers with Swiss cheese or any low-fat cheese cut up on the crackers will keep you filled in between meals and weigh in at 98 calories. Plus, it will keep your knees from buckling with its nice dose of calcium.
  • Almond Joy. No, not the chocolate candy bar, but the nut itself. A handful of almonds is good at keeping your cholesterol down and according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly American Dietician Association), a one-ounce serving of almonds (roughly 23) “comes packed with nutrients … [and] are the tree nut highest in protein, fiber, calcium, vitamin E, riboflavin and niacin. In fact, among tree nuts, they are the best source of six of the 13 nutrients for which there are daily values/daily recommended values and among the lowest in calories.”
  • Pretzels. According to WebMD.com, six whole-grain pretzels can fill you in between meals, has zero cholesterol, is low in fat and sugar, has 96 calories and provides you with three grams of fiber.
  • Oh Nuts! Almonds are not the only joy. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics also points out that nuts are generally high in heart-healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, phytonutrients and protein. A typical one-ounce serving of preferably unsalted nuts (49 pistachios, 18 cashews, 21 hazelnuts, 11 macadamia nuts, 19 pecan halves or 14 walnut halves) will provide you with “omega-3 fatty acids anti-inflammatory heart protective, disease fighting [all of which] are ‘good fats’ that Americans typically lack in their diet.”
  • Zeus it up. “Plain Greek yogurt with a touch of honey and a whole grain cereal  or granola provides you with a tasty breakfast.  It is crucial during busy season to eat breakfast every day,” said Schamberger.

Last, But Not Least

Remember to hydrate yourself. Smoothies are good for you as long as you make them yourself with fresh fruit and vegetables. What you put in your blender will make all the difference. A quick recipe for success provided by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:

  • Use frozen or fresh in-season fruit for sweetness. Don’t add extra sugar or honey.
  • For a thick smoothie, add silken tofu in place of ice cream.
  • For a frothy smoothie, add a teaspoon or two of dry non-fat milk to the mix.
  • Use low-fat or non-fat milk (cow, soy or rice) instead of full-fat options.
  • Up the protein value with a spoonful of peanut butter, nuts or granola.
  • Top off your drink with some fresh mint from your garden or a little lemon zest.

And Vicki Bartlett, human resources specialist at Seattle-based consulting firm Inspirage LLC, provided the best advice: “Have them drink a lot of water or other beverage. The call of Nature will make CPAs stand up and move frequently if they do!”

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Sukanya Mitra is managing editor of the AICPA Insider™ e-newsletter group.