One of the principal hurdles to healthy eating is being constantly on the run. According to the US Department of Transportation, the average American spends around 1 hour a day in their car on the go between work, school, and daily errands. That all adds up to three extra hours out of the house, plus the eight hours that we spend at work. This means that we are often not at home during the times that we are most likely to eat, thus putting us at the mercy of fast-food restaurants and convenience stores for our meals.
Nutritionist Adelle Davis famously said that we should "eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper." With the modern work schedule putting us out of the house for those two most important meals, the average person today likely does the exact opposite of Davis' sound advice.
So what are some of the things we can do while on the go to adhere to a healthy eating schedule? It is not impossible to maintain a healthy diet while on the go, but it does take some extra planning and effort. The good thing is that, like all things fitness, the key is to form a healthy habit so that eating well becomes a routine.
The first step in eating healthy while on the go is knowing what nutrients your body needs to keep it going throughout the day without suffering from too much fatigue and hunger. Fibers and protein are essential to this cause, as they give the body the fuel it needs. Lean proteins found in soy, beans and protein powders are the best, giving us the energy we need to burn calories. As for fibers, they help us to feel full and are great for our hearts. Foods such as legumes, lentils and split peas pack the most fiber punch, but other options like raspberries and artichoke hearts are also good options.
The second most important thing to consider when trying to eat healthy on the go is how to plan your attack. Most often you will not be able to just walk to the corner store and pick up a healthy food option in a reasonable portion, so a lot of healthy eating involves preparing your meals at home and adhering to an eating schedule that makes the most out of them. Pick a day in the week where you have time to whip up some healthy breakfast and lunch options, focusing on using clean proteins and fibers, and store them in your fridge for use during the week. You can also put aside time the night before, possibly while you are preparing dinner, to make a good meals for the next day.
Again, breakfast is the most important meal, and the average person should try to get between 15 and 25% of their daily calories from breakfast alone. Breakfast smoothies are a great way to do this. Between a protein powder, a mix of fruits, and some yogurt and almond or coconut milk, there are ample options for putting together a powerful breakfast shake that will get you through the first hours of the day. Another great thing about smoothies is that they are incredibly easy to make and can be stored in to-go mugs and consumed on the run.
To supplement the smoothie, a good protein bar can do the trick, but be careful of store bought bars, as they are often high in sugar and simple carbohydrates. Fortunately, a good protein bar can be constructed at the home using oats, nuts, honey and dried fruits such as raisins or cranberries. Hard-boiled eggs are also easy to make and carry on-the-go.
Most, if not all of us, also know the feeling of getting to about 10:30 in the morning and being too hungry to wait for lunch. While a good, balanced breakfast can usually solve this problem, hunger can still strike at any time, and having healthy snack foods on hand goes a long way in helping avoid hitting up the vending machine. Try to pack a light snack, again with emphasis on fiber and protein, to get you through the rough spots of the day. Healthy, home-made trail mixes with a variety of nuts, fruits and whole grain cereal are a good solution to pre-lunch hunger pangs. Another good solution are bite-sized vegetables such as baby carrots and celery sticks.
As for lunch, much of the same can be said; try to make your food at home using high protein and fiber options, but also be sure to add some healthy fats in there as well. These fats can be found in foods like avocado, olive oil, eggs and fatty fish such as salmon. Lunch is easy to portion out, as you can only pack so much into a single lunchbox/bag.
Unfourtunately, even with ample planning it is near impossible to avoid eating out at least a couple times a month. When it does happen that you are out and about and need food but don't have any healthy options available, there are certain guidelines that you can stick to and still get away with a healthy, satisfying meal.
First of all, almost any restaurant, even the greasiest of the fast food joints, will feature some kind of salad on the menu. Opt for a salad that is light on dressing and doesn't have any high-calorie ingredients such as fried chicken strips and bacon, and you should be good to go.
That being said, eating out in the healthy way has more to do with what NOT to eat. Things to avoid include simple carbohydrates or high glycemic foods, such as fruit juices and sodas, refined grain products like white bread and noodles, sugary snacks, deep-fried foods like fried chicken or sandwich melts, nonfat desserts and sweeteners, which are loaded with chemicals that your body can’t easily metabolize and anything partially hydrogenated - this includes nondairy creamer, Jiffy-style peanut butter, margarine, and most packaged baked goods. Also avoid drinking alcoholic beverages, but if you really have to, limit it to one or two drinks.