“I am on the go” – an expression we often hear, is often accompanied with a bad habit of poor eating choices. With a little bit of behavior change and discipline, ditching the fast food for a healthier alternative can easily be done.
If you are on a bad spiral of being ‘on the go’ coupled with unhealthy fast food eating habits, do yourself a favor and make a change. Here are some tips.
Your best bet is to ‘brown bag’ it. Follow this simple procedure:
Step 1: Get a small size cooler, one big enough for a small freezer pack to keep food cool.
Step 2: Pack your meals and snacks.
Okay, it is a little more involved than that. What to pack?
- One of the easiest lunch items to ‘throw together’ is a tuna (water packed) or chicken salad. Put your serving of tuna or chicken in a bowl, mix in some yogurt or whole grain mustard to start. The add in list could be endless. Add what you like and what time allows. This could include: olives, green peas, black beans, chopped onion, diced apple, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, just about anything goes. It can serve as a meal by itself.
- How about packing a sandwich? A slice of low fat cheese, some lean cuts of deli meat on some whole grain or ‘lite’ wheat bread takes no time at all is in many times healthier that the greasy burger alternative you could end up with. Add some carrots, celery, green pepper slices or any other fresh cut veggie for a healthy side item.
- Here is an odd combination that works very well. Buy a package of the smaller size containers of cottage cheese (low fat), and put a serving of your favorite healthy dry cereal in a container. When you are ready to eat, mix up the cottage cheese with the cereal and enjoy! A great combination of protein and carbohydrates to keep you energized. Choose a cereal with some fiber and not too dense on the calories. Read your labels and make sure you know what you are eating.
Let’s say you are really on the go, and did not pack for yourself. What is your alternative to fast food? Enter the true convenience of the convenience store.
- Most convenience stores have a food section. Often you can find tuna and salsa. If you don’t have a bowl or a plate, no problem. Bowls, plates, and utensils are readily available at most convenience stores. Simply mix up the tuna with some salsa. While the sodium may be a bit high, it is still better than just about anything you might get from fast food. Plus, if you are trying to lose weight, this combo is very low calorie.
- Foods such as hard boiled eggs and pre-made deli meat sandwiches can usually be found. The portion sizes are ‘average’, as compared to the over-sized meals the fast food industry likes to serve us. Often you can find convenient packs of vegetables to snack on, and most all have some fresh fruit available.
- If there are not any good food items to make a convenience store ‘meal’, then look to the next option. Protein bars or energy bars, however you like to think of them. Many convenience stores have a good variety of these health bars.
- Protein bars can make a nice meal substitute when you are in a pinch, and is still much better than a large order of fries. Buy a few, so you can have another for a snack later. Make sure to check the nutrition labels. A decent bar should have at least 5 grams of protein and less than 40 grams of carbohydrates if you are trying to manage your weight. The more protein in an energy bar, the better.
The great news about avoiding the fast food restaurants is that you could easily eat 300 – 500 calories less in a meal. Many meals at fast food restaurants exceed 800 and even 1000 calories!
A pre-packed lunch, or one you put together from convenience store items, will should range anywhere between 200 – 600 calories. When you put yourself in control of the food that you are going to eat, you will naturally put together a much healthier meal than just about anything that you might normally get at a fast food restaurant.
Another great side note is that you eliminate the temptation to order all that food that you know you really don’t need. Plan to take responsibility for healthier meals and snacks, and then stick to the plan. The sooner you do, and replace all of the unhealthy fast food, the sooner you can start feeling and looking great. A whole new energized and healthy you!