Nutrition On The Run

Many of us are busy, and we're getting busier every day. We often don't have the time to sit down to proper meals anymore - even at dinnertime, much less at breakfast and lunch. More and more, we tend to eat on the run, grabbing a quick bite as we are walking out the door, working through the lunch hour, or even while driving.

Don't give up nutrition to save time. But to protect our health, we need to make balanced nutrition a priority, even when we feel we have no time. And that requires planning, so that the "grab whatever I can" mentality doesn't spoil healthy eating.

Whether you pack a snack, buy something from a vendor or vending machine or pick up fast food, make sure it contains good sources of protein and carbohydrate to provide the balanced nutrition" and energy you need.

Take a healthy snack along. There are many healthy snacks that are easy to pack in your bag. Fresh fruits and vegetables are always an excellent choice. Try apples, bananas, pears, slices of peppers, celery or baby carrots. A trail mix made of dried fruits, sunflower seeds and nuts is also handy. Or pack a sandwich with peanut butter, meat or cheese. (To keep perishable foods safe, place them in an insulated bag with an ice pack.) Other great choices include a bagel with peanut butter or hummus, and low-fat cheese with crackers. When space in your bag is at a minimum, try a fruit-and-cereal bar or granola bar.

Choose wisely from vendors. If your only choice is food from a vendor or vending machine, no need to panic. Just choose carefully. Healthy possibilities include yogurt smoothies or frozen yogurt (To limit calories, choose a small size), a small package of nuts, pretzels, popcorn topped with Parmesan cheese, fruit juices, and "wrap" sandwiches made with turkey, vegetables and cheese (hold the mayo).

Is fast food on the agenda? Fast food doesn't have to be bad for you. Simply make smart choices by thinking small. Order a kiddie sandwich, or the regular-sized burger instead of the double- or triple-sized. A grilled chicken sandwich is one of your best options, along with baked potatoes, low-fat chili or soups, or a grilled chicken salad (use only half the dressing). Have a salad instead of fries, and order any condiments on the side so you can use them sparingly.

Other helpful tips. While eating on the go, remember to keep your fluid intake up. Always pack a bottle of water so you can get the fluid you need while running from place to place.

The good news is that with a little knowledge and planning, you can always eat a healthy, balanced snack while running out the door, grabbing that flight or simply going to work.

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