When eating away from home, planning may be the most important action a person can take to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
When stressed or rushed, many of us revert to our old familiar habits. If those habits are not healthy, that’s when poor choices are made. Habits may include grabbing high-fat doughnuts, stopping at convenient fast-food restaurants and eating larger portions.
Planning ahead provides a variety of healthy food choices and portion sizes that are satisfying. With a little thought, anyone can plan a meal on the go that best fits any situation.
If eating in the car is a trouble spot for you, make it a rule to only bring water in the car if you are travelling for an hour or less. If your weakness is stopping at convenience stores or fast-food restaurants, put those on your “Do not stop” list, or only order one item like the grilled chicken and bring the rest of your meal in a cooler. Lettuce, instead of a bun, wrapped around chicken or a burger is a tasty alternative. Make the local grocery store your food stop or get yourself a cooler where you keep a “stash” of healthy options – energy bars, bottled water, nuts or fruit.
Bring a healthy snack or lunch with you. Include some protein; it satisfies longer. With an apple bring some peanut butter, cheese or nuts.
Take healthy foods that travel well: Cottage cheese, vegetable sticks, yogurt, fruit, granola bars and nuts are great choices. Keep refreezable ice packs in your freezer to throw in your cooler when transporting meat, dairy and cooked foods. Freeze 100 per cent juice packs or, in a pinch, throw some ice cubes in a zip-lock plastic bag.
– Jill Kokkonen May is a health and nutrition educator
with University of Minnesota Extension.