Healthy eating on the go can seem like a tall order, especially when it requires diet food to go. However, balanced meals and busy schedules can coexist.
Expert advice can help when planning healthy food to go, making eating on the go easier than ever. Read on for the best tips from dietitians that make healthy eating on the go easy and exciting!
Nutrients for Healthy Eating On the Go
Knowing a thing or two about cooking and nutrition can help a lot when it comes to investing in weight loss and health. Understanding the key components of food and why nutrition is important can help put health habits into the proper perspective.
It's back to the basics regarding the top tips to focus on for healthy eating, with these three key nutrients.
1. Lean, Adequate Protein
About 40 to 50 percent of total caloric intake should come from lean protein, such as:
• Lean beef
• Ground turkey
• Pork tenderloin
• Dairy (i.e. milk, Greek yogurt)
2. Healthy Fats
Including healthy fats in the diet actually makes it easier to maintain and lose weight. Fat is a necessary nutrient that aids the body in essential functions, such as maintaining hormone balance and energy levels.
Add the following healthy fats to a balanced diet:
• Olive oil
• Fatty fish (i.e. salmon, trout, tuna)
• Nuts and nut butters
3. Complex Carbohydrates
Making healthy eating on the go simple includes complex carbohydrates (carbs). Simple carbs cause quick spikes and drops in blood sugar. Complex carbs help to sustain the body for longer.
Beyond sustaining energy and promoting muscle growth, complex carbs also help to manage weight. They are more filling due to fiber content and encourage healthy weight maintenance. The following foods are excellent sources of complex carbs:
• Whole grains (i.e. wheat, oats, brown rice, ancient grains)
• Beans and legumes (i.e. lentils, soybeans, peas)
• Nuts and seeds
• Starchy vegetables (i.e. squash, beets, carrots, potatoes)
• Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables (i.e. fruit with the skin and green, leafy veggies)
So, what might this look like put together? Example healthier options for eating on the go include:
• A grilled chicken sandwich stacked with lettuce, tomato, onion, and other available veggies on a whole wheat bean (or bunless)
• Naked burrito bowl layered with lean sirloin, black beans, green peppers, and a dollop of guacamole
• Chopped salad piled with leafy greens, other non-starchy veggies, and choice of lean protein (remember to be cautious of salad dressings!)
Whether ordering fast food or carryout, balance meals with plenty of protein, fiber, and healthy fat. Stray away from fried foods and select leaner meats to reduce overall saturated fat and calorie content.
Bonus Healthy Food Tips to Order Out
While homemade options are often preferred, ordering on the go can be a healthy option, too! The following tips can help out when looking for healthy food to go.
Unlock Healthy Secret Menus
Chick-fil-A, Taco Bell, and many other establishments have secret menus with healthy options. These are popular picks that might not show up on the traditional menu but are available to consumers that ask.
Secret menus are often menu favorites with small tweaks, such as excluding the sauce or a certain topping, to make them more diet-friendly.
Look for Health-Centered Options
Due to the demand and needs of customers, most restaurants now include heart-healthy menu options. These items may have more nutrient-dense ingredients than others on the menu.
Keep in mind that these foods can be great options, not only for those needing heart-healthy foods but for almost any health-minded eater.
Healthy Food to Grab On the Go
There are plenty of options for healthy eating on the go. Remember, protein and fiber-fueled snacks can help promote a feeling of fullness and provide key nutrients the body needs to maintain a healthy weight.
Great options for lean protein to go:
• Hard-boiled egg
• Tuna pouch
• Protein smoothie or shake
Great options for healthy fats to go:
• Dark chocolate
• Full-fat milk or yogurt
• Peanut butter
Great options for healthy complex carbs on the go:
• Nuts and seeds
• Chia seed pudding
• Overnight oats
• Apples and apple slices
• Bell peppers
On The Go Meal Ideas
Need some more inspiration to jumpstart those creative juices? Look no further!
The following ideas make eating healthy on the go a breeze. Busy schedules can be made easier with a balanced diet and effective on-the-go eating strategies.
Keeping in mind the three main components of healthy diets to go (lean protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs), these tactics make for easier on-the-go meals.
Bento boxes make meal prep a breeze. Every item is kept in a separate compartment. From sandwiches to noodle dishes to cheese and crackers, bento boxes can hold just about anything with ease.
Food Energy Boosters
Eating nutrient-dense foods can keep the energy flowing, even on busy days. The following are 15 energy-boosting foods for when you're in a hurry, and each takes only minutes to prepare:
• Greek yogurt
• Cottage cheese
• String cheese
• Pumpkin seeds
• Hard boiled eggs
• Beef jerky
• Dark chocolate
Whether from a delivery service or made at home, smoothie kits can save a substantial amount of time. Add a scoop of plant-based protein for extra vitamins and minerals. Be sure to check for added sugars, and opt for naturally sweet flavoring agents like honey or cinnamon instead.
Meal Delivery Services
Speaking of delivery services, meal delivery services like bistroMD can also make healthy (and delicious) eating with a tight schedule a breeze! Also offering specialty diets, like heart-healthy and gluten-free, meal options cater to a wide variety of needs.
Mason Jar Salads
Mason jar salad recipes are perfect for prepping beforehand. They provide all the benefits of salad. Plus, they are portable!
How to Shop for Healthy Food To Go
Understanding how to shop for healthy food is a key element of a balanced diet. A few quick, yet effective tips for shoppers looking to stick to their health goals include the following.
Stick to a List
It's easy to get distracted in grocery store aisles. In fact, the layouts of many commercial chains are designed to do just that! Shopping with a grocery list can help streamline the purchasing process, saving money, time, and ultimately cutting down on calories.
Want a pro tip? Shop the perimeter of the store. This is where colorful produce, meats, milk, dairy, and other fresh, nutrient-dense products are stored.
Consider Self-Checkout Options
Self-checkout can be another great way to cut back on unnecessary product purchasing. Designed for streamlining the shopping process, self-checkout stands house considerably fewer distractions and temptations. This can reduce the risk of grabbing candy, chips, and convenience snacks on the way out.
Avoid Shopping On An Empty Stomach
This old adage is too true. Shopping on an empty stomach is a recipe for disaster for dieters. Everything will start to look appetizing, making eating healthy on the go especially challenging.
Look at the Label
A quick glance at the back of a bottle or package can help decipher the nutrient content inside. Be wary of added sugar, sodium, and oils.
Make a Mental Game Plan
At a breakfast buffet, for example, it is important to scope out the options before making an impulse decision. Make a mental note of what is available. Then, choose options that offer variety and provide a nutrient-dense selection to start the day, such as:
• Whole-wheat or whole-grain waffles with peanut butter and/or yogurt to top
• An omelet with spinach, onions, peppers, tomatoes, etc.
• A yogurt parfait
• Whole-grain cereal with sliced fruit, berries, and/or cinnamon sprinkled on top
• Bagel with cottage cheese and fresh fruit, or hummus and eggs
Best On the Go Dieting Tips Recap
Dietitians recommend getting back to the basics when it comes to establishing a healthy eating routine on the go. Busy schedules can accommodate quick, balanced meals with some simple planning and a good understanding of diet principles.
Taking time to invest in healthy habits, even while eating on the go, is important for long-term health.