How to Eat Healthy When You're on the Go.
When I was in college, I ate the most random and unhealthy things because I just didn't know any better and didn't care too much. Also, I didn't have a stove or oven and had a meal plan which meant that I could have Panda Express or eat at our dining halls pretty much whenever I wanted. So, I ate tons of burgers, whole plates of bacon, and lemon squares constantly. With 28 units, two jobs and rehearsing for different shows, I didn't really worry about being healthy because I figured I was burning all the junk off anyway.
Now that I'm well out of school and realizing that what I put in my body has a direct effect on my mood, physical appearance, etc, I've developed a much healthier lifestyle.
Here are some of the changes I've made that have really made a difference especially when I'm pressed for time:
1. Prepare your meals ahead of time.
If you have a busy week ahead where you know you'll be leaving at 6am and returning after sundown every day, one of the last things you'll want to do is cook dinner and make your meals for the next day when you drag yourself back home. Therefore, spend an hour or two on the weekend on meal-prep. My weekend musts include grilling chicken breasts, cooking several cups of whole grain rice, roasting up veggies like green beans and sweet potatoes, and then portioning it out in to tupperware. I also like to make salads ahead of time. Throw spinach, chopped carrots, olives, tomatoes and other yummy veggies into a ziplock bag so all you have to do is open it and toss it in to a bowl with some dressing next time you arrive home exhausted. This prep will save you so much time and money during the week!
2. Check out cook-at-home meal delivery services.
If you can't get the grocery store yourself or are just crazy pressed for time, meal delivery services are a much better solution to dinner than fast food or Seamless. Dinner Thyme is a fantastic option because it custom preps your fresh ingredients and includes easy-to-follow step by step recipe cards that are designed to get fresh and delicious food on your table in as little as 15 minutes. It's quick and easy with an ever-evolving menu of items like steak and cheese pizza with arugula and a balsamic glaze and jerk marinated chicken with mango salsa over curry rice. Better yet, Dinner Thyme offers all of their meals in single portions too!
3. Fill your cabinets and refrigerator with healthier options.
You can't eat junk if it's not there, right? Load up on granola bars, fruit, single-serving packages of almonds and pistachios, etc. Pre-cut veggies and low-fat string cheese are also great. Essentially, you want your food to look as close as possible to what it looked like on the farm or what it looks like naturally. Almost all of these are great for throwing in to your bag as your headed out the door.
4. Stay away from microwavable foods.
Microwavable foods may be convenient, but they're also loaded with sodium and ingredients that you can't even pronounce. A pepperoni hot pocket (although delicious and heavenly) is not nearly as filling or healthy as a bowl of whole grain spaghetti with homemade tomato sauce and a sprinkle of freshly-grated Parmesan cheese.
5. Pack lunch instead of grabbing fast food or ordering in to the office.
You know fast food doesn't really fill you up and isn't doing your waistline any favors especially because the portions are usually ridiculous. For example, a 20 piece of chicken nuggets from McDonald's is 940 calories. That doesn't even include if you have those large fries and 24-ounce soda or even a bit of ketchup. Think about it - the average person is supposed to consume roughly 2000 calories a day. Some of these fast food "meals" end up being 1500 calories or more, which is way more than anyone should eat in one sitting. When you pack your own lunch, you know exactly what is going to be in your food and can control the portions. With fast food, you don't really get those options.
6. Look for grilled, roasted or baked options when eating out.
If you need to head out for lunch because you couldn't pack anything or because you're treating a client out, stick with grilled chicken or fish with a side of steamed or roasted vegetables. Fried foods or ones dipped in batter are almost always going to be less healthy and packed in extra calories. Also, take a peek at the menu online beforehand so you can choose a place with healthier options if necessary. Maybe going to a place that brags about a menu with a seven patty cheeseburger isn't where you should be going after all.
Notice that I didn't suggest only eating salads or not eating at all. Food is here for sustenance, but also to be enjoyed. Life is too short to eat things that don't make you happy. It's totally fine to enjoy a bacon cheeseburger once in a while or indulge in a few of your mom's famous chocolate chip cookies on your next visit home. Depriving yourself of your favorite foods is not a recipe for success when eating healthier and changing your lifestyle. What is? Taking things one step at a time, making small changes each day, and enjoying each moment and meal. Carpe diem (or YOLO for the younger generations)!