There’s No Limit to Healthy Eating: How to Find a Nourishing Meal Anywhere
These days, most people are constantly on the go, bouncing from one thing to the next. But an active lifestyle can make it extremely difficult to maintain a healthy, balanced diet.
With a plethora of cheap, processed junk and fast food choices everywhere you turn, it’s important to know which foods offer the nutrients your body truly needs to stay healthy and energized every moment you’re away from home.
Balancing Busy Schedules With Health
Food fuels your body. So when you’re constantly on the move — whether that means traveling for work or just powering through your daily activities — regular, nutrient-rich meals are essential. Getting the proper balance of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats every day is the only way to maintain optimum health, energy, and mental focus for the tasks ahead.
On the flip side, filling your body with unhealthy foods and sugary drinks can cause serious problems over time. Diets too heavy in saturated and/or trans fats, sodium, sugars, cholesterol, and processed ingredients can leave you feeling sluggish, irritable, and depressed. They also put you at risk for weight gain, bone and muscle weakness, osteoporosis, obesity, malnutrition, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, diabetes, cancer, and stroke.
The problem is that consuming healthy, balanced meals every day is easier said than done. This is especially true when you’re away from home. That’s why so many people rely on cheap, convenient fast food to fill them up when they’re on the go.
Healthy Food on the Go
While the occasional fast food indulgence isn’t a big deal, consuming it regularly can be. Most fast food options lack the nutritional composition necessary to energize your body and satisfy your hunger, causing you to eat more just to feel full. And research has found that most people underestimate their caloric intake when eating fast food, some consuming an extra 160-310 calories every day they go out to eat.
Rather than resort to desperate measures in a junk food wasteland, educate yourself on beneficial food choices you can make while on the go. That way, you can always identify the healthiest options — no matter where you are. Here are a few nutritious selections to help you eat right, no matter where life takes you:
Although airports are an epicenter of hurried activity, they are home to more than traditional fast food. For a quick bite between flights that won’t drag your energy down, grab a package of raw mixed nuts. They’re the perfect balance of protein, carbohydrates, fiber, and fat, and they’re rich in antioxidants.
Mixed nuts can tackle your hunger, boost your immune system, and promote healthy brain function. You should also select a fresh apple or banana from a kiosk. Both offer carbohydrates for fast energy and fiber and prebiotics to stabilize your blood sugar and promote healthy digestion.
If you’re grabbing a drink at the airport, opt for water. Flying can really dehydrate you, causing dry eyes, swollen feet, and fatigue. Drinking water will counteract those effects. When you need a hot pick-me-up, choose a full-fat decaf latte. The extra calories will stabilize your blood sugar and satisfy your hunger, while the decaf will help you avoid the bodily stress that caffeine can induce.
Most people also forget that you can bring your own food into the airport. I’ve even brought a whole rotisserie chicken through security before. Plan ahead and pack a healthy meal or some snacks to take with you on your travels.
A Gas Station
It’s true: Gas stations are hotbeds for junk food and sugary drinks. But there are some nutritious options for travelers, as well. Sunflower seeds are low in calories but high in carbohydrates, protein, fiber, B vitamins, and antioxidants. Even small servings can replenish energy. Protein bars are another great option. Choose bars that are low in sugar with at least five grams of protein and few (or no) processed ingredients. I recommend organic Clif, Kashi GOLEAN, or KIND bars.
You should also look for less traditional gas station snacks. If your gas station keeps refrigerated crudités (aka sliced vegetables) and individual servings of peanut butter in stock, pair them for a snack rich in healthy fats, vitamins, and protein. Individual servings of string cheese and plain yogurt are other good choices to curb your hunger and feed your body healthy fat and bioavailable calcium. You can always mix a little honey (available for free at the coffee/tea station) into your yogurt if its plain flavor isn’t your thing.
Finally, if you can find locally made jerky, you’ve scored big time! Jerky is packed with protein, healthy fat, zinc, and B vitamins — perfect for boosting energy and immunity while on the road. Most commercial jerkies have added preservatives and flavorings, but homemade jerkies are typically just meat, spices, and a tiny amount of sugar to enhance the taste.
Eating is a huge aspect of most parties and social gatherings. Unfortunately, healthy entrees and side dishes aren’t a priority for every host. The next time you’re at a party, go for the potato salad. Potatoes that have been cooked and cooled contain resistant starch, which acts as a prebiotic by feeding the good bacteria in your gut, lowering your blood sugar, and improving digestion. Fruit salad — especially one containing melon, grapes, and pineapple — is another great choice. Fruit has fiber for good digestion, water to keep you hydrated, and antioxidants to promote heart health.
The garbanzo beans used in hummus contain healthy fats, protein, fiber, folate, manganese, and vitamin B6, making this delicious dip filling and nutritious. Snacking on protein-rich cheese will help you maintain your energy throughout the party (but stick to smaller portions so you don’t consume too many calories). And cocktail shrimp will perfectly round out your plate. They’re low in fat and carbohydrates but pack lots of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and protein into each serving.
Bars probably aren’t the first places that come to mind when you think of grabbing a healthy meal, but they’re not completely devoid of nutritious options. If you’re at a bar with a menu, select foods that aren’t fried and that contain vegetables and/or protein, like mini sliders, wraps, cocktail shrimp, and chili. These dishes will satisfy your hunger and slow the alcohol entering your bloodstream. If the bar doesn’t have a full menu, snack on mixed nuts or pretzels.
And don’t forget to drink plenty of water. Drinking a glass of water between every alcoholic beverage you consume will keep you hydrated, help stave off a hangover, and reduce your bar bill.
An on-the-go lifestyle doesn’t have to mean eating fast food and junky snacks every day. With the right resources to guide you, healthy, nourishing foods can be found almost anywhere.