Eating on the go. It can be one of the biggest hurdles you face when you’re not home. Whether it be an emergency stop at the closest 7-Eleven on the way home because you worked straight through the day, or at the airport on your way to your family vacation, the choices can be daunting. The easiest thing, of course, is to pick the fastest option that makes your taste buds sing; but chances are that’s the exact opposite of what your body really needs.
So how does one navigate the siren calls from those delectable calorie traps while on the road or in an airport? Let’s take a look at some of the options.
- Kind Bars – filling portion of healthy fats and protein to keep you fuller longer, limited sugar, and is made of natural ingredients
- Beef Jerky [or some other animal jerky] – look for minimal ingredients and low sodium for an easy grab-and-go protein
- Planters Trail Mix – long lasting source of energy from the nut, seed and fruit combination
- Pistachios [or other raw/plain roasted nuts] – high in healthy fats to keep you full
- Mozzarella Sticks – low carb and calorie dense
- Plain Yogurt –add some nuts or [dried] fruit for a flavorful snack
- Raw Fruit or Veggies – no explanation needed
- Hard Boiled Eggs – healthy fat and protein packed under one shell
- Water – save the calories by skipping the sugary liquids
Traditional Fast Food Restaurants
- McDonald’s – Egg McMuffin, Grilled Chicken Salad [minimal dressing]
- Taco Bell – Power Menu Bowl, Fresco tacos, side of beans/rice and beans
- Chick-Fil-A – grilled chicken or grilled nuggets on or off a salad – using dressing sparingly and limiting condiments [ketchup, dressing and sauces are a quick way to tack on extra calories]
- Starbucks – Spinach, Feta & Egg-White Breakfast Wrap, Protein Bistro Box, Whole-Grain oatmeal [limit dried fruit/brown sugar]
- Subway – Oven Roasted Chicken Flatbread or Salad, Tuna
- Dunkin Donuts – Egg & Cheese English Muffin/Flatbread
Fast Casual Restaurants
- Chipotle – Burrito/salad bowls with all the toppings [say yes to guac! But pass on sour cream & cheese]
- Cava – greens & grains bowl, eggplant & hummus, falafel/grilled chicken/roasted veggies, all the toppings [minus the pita crisps], with any dressing
- Chopt – locally sourced items for delicious salad options
- Elevation Burger – all organic burger variations, and olive oil cooked French fries
- Sweetgreen – warm bowls & salads, lite on the dressings [opt for oil & vinegar]
- Sandwich places - more meat & veggies, less dairy & sauces
If you have the opportunity for a sit-down meal at a proper restaurant, look for the items with a protein base and sides of veggies, or build your own. Limit fried food choices, anything in a heavy cream sauces, or predominantly carbohydrate dense meals. Make substitutions where you can to include more veggies, reduce excess carbs by going bun-less and skipping the bread basket, opt for water over alcohol or soda, and pass on the dessert.
One of the most interesting things about being in a hurry, or traveling, is how we seem to throw all common sense and logical thinking towards food right out the window. It’s in those moments where impulsive actions take over, and we reach for foods to satisfy our inner child instead of what we know makes us feel best. So, why is it that we decide to eat that 1,200 calorie cinnamon bun even though we haven’t eaten cinnamon buns in 13 years? It’s almost as if we believe that calories don’t count when we are traveling. Let me be very clear here when I say that calories most certainly do count when you’re traveling, And when it’s your birthday. And when you’re having a rough day. They always count – so let’s make them count and work for you!
If you are frequently on the go and aren’t sure what choices you should be making for your meals, it might be time to learn a bit more about nutrition. You can enroll in Nutrition in a Nutshell for a deeper dive on all related things.