Healthy Eating On-the-Go
Do you know anyone who is not busy these days? It’s literally impossible to find someone who says they have extra time on their hands anymore. While your life might be in high-gear, don’t let your food keep up the same pace. Many people try to eat healthy at home, but when they’re on the road, any thoughts about making a healthy choice are thrown out the passenger seat window. Avoid these common pitfalls when you’re living and dining on-the-go:
Mistake #1 – Failing to Plan
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is not planning ahead. You know the old adage “failing to plan is planning to fail.” When it comes to eating on-the-go, the same rule applies. Knowing what you are going to eat at least 24 hours in advance will keep you from entering an “emergency hunger” state. You’ve been there before: you’ve gone hours without eating and suddenly you need food fast – so you reach for fast food. When an “emergency hunger” state hits, most anything goes, and food becomes an object of your obsession. In these moments, you are more likely to choose the quickest option to cure your starvation, which can equal highly processed food full of unwanted ingredients.
Make time to plan ahead each week. I like to dedicate 30 minutes on a Saturday afternoon to planning what I will eat during the week ahead. I may plan in certain days for eating out and others for eating in, but I always know where my next meals are coming from.
Mistake #2 – Calorie counting
Most of us think calorie counting is the best way to limit our food intake. Don’t get me wrong, reading labels is a good idea, but solely choosing a snack based on its calorie content is an outdated method of eating. Calorie counting leads us to choose low-fat products full of sugar or worse yet, artificial sweeteners. Keep in mind, the longer the label, the worse it usually is.
Instead of nutritional number crunching, focus on eating for energy. Ask yourself, will this satisfy me for more than an hour? How much energy will I get from this snack or meal? Clearly a handful of almonds will give you more energy than a bag of fat free pretzels.
Mistake #3 – Confusing a snack as a meal
Eating on-the-go may mean eating smaller meals, more frequently. It’s important to differentiate between a snack and a meal substitute. A snack is usually one item, something that will tide you over in between meals. A meal substitute is more like a mini meal. It is larger than a snack and may substitute as a meal on-the-go until you arrive at your next destination. Eating many snacks may not satisfy you, as you can easily skip some important nutrients. Mini meals can provide energy and satiate you, but should be chosen wisely. You want to make sure you are getting essential energy boosters like protein, healthy fats, and whole grains. These are the foods that will make your mini meal go much farther than your taste buds. Try these mini meals for long-lasting energy: a fruit smoothie made with nut butter and yogurt, healthy food bars without added sugar, a hardboiled egg, veggie sticks with hummus, whole grain crackers with cheese, or yogurt with granola and nuts.
Mistake #4 – Leaving Veggies Out
We’re supposed to get in nine servings of fruits and veggies per day. Most Americans are hovering at about 2.5. Fruits and vegetables are antioxidant powerhouses, so make sure to include them as often as possible. Eating fruits and vegetables on-the-go are actually the fastest of fast foods. There’s not much to crunching into an apple, peeling an orange or even tossing a salad with your favorite dressing. There’s no cooking involved, yet on-the-goers tend to skimp on the fruits and veggies. Bring some veggie sticks along for the ride or find stores that carry grab ’n go salads.
Learning the tricks of the trade of eating on-the-go is essential for staying healthy. With a little planning and prep, you’ll be eating healthy in no time.
Suzanne Monroe is a Food Coach and certified holistic health counselor. Her company, Real Life Food, helps busy women finally answer the question, What do I eat? For a free report on Eating for Energy, visit www.reallifefood.com.