Let’s be real: Eating on the run isn’t ideal, but it’s inevitable for most of us. When life gets really busy, prioritizing time for a healthy, home-cooked meal isn’t always possible, even for the most prepared among us. This doesn’t mean you can’t make good choices on the go. The core principles of healthy eating — balance, moderation and variety — can still be within reach for even the busiest people.
Your healthy-eating style should fit your lifestyle — not the other way around. Anyone can make healthy eating a priority without drastically changing their life; it just takes a little creativity to come up with solutions that work for you. If you frequently eat on the go, here are some easy tips and tricks to help you eat healthier away from home:
1. Hack your snacks. Stash a couple of single-serving, nonperishable snacks in your bag for when hunger hits. Some good ones include roasted almonds, protein bars, jerky, whole-wheat pretzels and trail mix. Fortified foods like cereals, granola bars and beverages are also a great option for extra bang for your buck when it comes to nutrition on the go. Also, organize your kitchen to make sure healthy foods are within reach. Keep fruit and precut, snackable veggies front and center in the refrigerator, and healthy whole-grain snacks on the countertop. This will make it easier for you to grab these healthy options for a quick snack (or breakfast) when you’re in a hurry.
2. Make breakfast at night. Your mom was right about breakfast. A balanced morning meal can help give you the calories and nutrients you need to power through a hectic day. Busy people are often tempted to skip breakfast, but you need fuel! Make a large batch of oatmeal in the slow cooker, and portion it out for the week. Then all you have to do in the morning is grab, microwave and go!
3. Limit distractions. Save your multitasking for the office, and try to carve out some time to turn down the distractions and focus on your food. After all, this might be the only “me time” you get in your busy day. If you’re on the road, stop to eat, even if you only have three minutes to spare. If you’re at work, head into the break room to eat with a buddy or outside for a few minutes of fresh air. Research shows a little bit of mindfulness during meals may even aid weight loss.
4. Build a balanced plate. Whether you’re eating on the go or planning multicourse meals from scratch, the MyPlate tool can help. Aim to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables, even when you’re away from home, to help you stay on track.
5. Be aware of healthy options when dining out. It’s completely possible to meet your calorie and nutrition goals even when you’re eating out,. Unsure whether your choice is healthy and balanced? Use MyFitnessPal’s restaurant logging to help you make better choices no matter where you are.
By Liz Sanders, MPH, RDN