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Nutritious Snacks for an Active Lifestyle
Fresh Fruit Is Always Appropriate
Cheese Makes a Satisfying, High-Protein Snack
Too Busy to Prepare Five or Six Healthy Meals Every Day?
Eating every two or three hours when awake, which usually means eating five or six small meals/snacks each day, helps keep one's metabolism high and one's energy strong. Combine eating frequent small meals with eating whole, natural, unprocessed food that is low in sugar and high in protein, along with fresh fruit and vegetables, and plenty of fresh water, and one is well on one's way to a healthy digestion and energy to burn.
However, this is not the Standard American Diet, or manner of eating. American families used to eat three big meals a day, at the table with the family. Food often was less than healthy, including refined grains (white bread) with no fiber and reduced nutrients, sugar in most recipes, heavy greasy meats, and rich desserts. Many people snacked between meals, and frequently on non-healthy food such as candy, cookies, alcohol, soda, etc. Over the last several decades, many families' extremely busy lifestyles made it hard for people to eat healthily, in addition to no longer eating together. People did not have time to shop and cook, and indulged in fast food, restaurant food, and even vending machine food rather than preparing healthy meals at home. We have paid the price by becoming more alienated from each other and by becoming fat and unhealthy. Restoring the importance of sharing meals with loved ones is material for another Hub; here, let's look at the need to eat healthily, even if our jobs, school, hobbies, and other activities leave us little time to cook and keep us on the go.
A Little Forethought Goes a Long Way
Assuming one has access to a kitchen and grocery store, it's not hard to take responsibility for eating well, even when constantly on the go. It is accomplished most easily by "bringing one's lunch," which might take some getting used to. Executives and other high profile figures might struggle with--or simply reject--that step. In that case, one assumes they have access to healthy restaurants, healthy take-out, or healthy catering, and it's their responsibility to order knowledgeably. For example, one can order whole grain bread, organic bean soup, and a green smoothie from a local deli or store like Whole Foods Market. Perhaps such a person would also have an in-house cafeteria from which to order healthy food, or at least a refrigerator in the office in which he/she could store healthy snacks and beverages, if not entire meals.
For those of us whose self-image can accommodate carrying a soft cooler, it's easier and less expensive to manage frequent, healthy, small meals and snacks, even when working a ten hour shift, by preparing most of the day's food ahead of time and carrying it with one. Pack a cooler each day with cheese, nuts, whole grain bread, energy bars, fresh fruit and vegetables, and/or yogurt, enough for a 300-400 calorie snack or meal every two to three hours. Pack herb tea bags and carry a stainless steel thermos for water, coffee, tea, or soup. Take a few hours each weekend and make sure you have sufficient food in the house for the entire week's healthy food on the go and for breakfast, dinner, and any other meals or snacks you plan to eat at home.
Delicious and Healthy
What Might a Day's Cooler Contain?
When I get up, I will drink water then eat breakfast, for example; oatmeal, eggs, fruit, and black coffee. I will take my vitamins, and pack more vitamins for later in the day in my cooler. Into that cooler, I'll also put, on a typical work day (when I'll be away from home from 7:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.):
- Two whole grain sandwiches with natural cheese and sliced cooked meat, natural nut butter and fruit or honey, or hummus and veggies
- Two or three pieces of fresh fruit:apple, orange, pear, plum, etc.
- Sometimes a container of green salad or cut-up veggies like celery, carrot sticks, etc.
- Two energy bars. My favorite is Bear Valley's Carob-Cocoa Pemmican; what is yours?
- Herb or green tea bags, instant coffee in a baggie, or ginseng tea granules
- Sometimes a container of unsweetened plain yogurt with active cultures or a bottle of kefir
- Sometimes a green drink like Naked Juice
- A small sack of trail mix or cubed cheese
I'll carry my thermos full of fresh water, and plan to refill it, making sure to drink 64 ounces (8 glasses) a day, minimum. All that food splits easily into four or five meals/snacks full of fiber, vitamins and minerals, protein, and delicious taste. When I get home at night, I will often have a bowl of soup, a small veggie salad, or a bowl of yogurt, fruit, and nuts. All in all, each day's five or six meals total around 2000 calories, which for a moderately active woman like me is right. A very active man or boy would need to take more food, such as three sandwiches and three energy bars, or a thermos of chili instead of one sandwich, perhaps.
These small meals and snacks can be varied, limited only by one's imagination and local resources. While eating this way does not solve the problem created when families stopped eating together regularly, it does go far toward insuring optimum nutrition for individuals on the go.