Goodies to go
Tips for healthy eating on the move
Last Updated March 22, 2007
March is Nutrition Month in Canada, and according to Statistics Canada, an increasing number of Canadians are spending less time preparing meals. They're also consuming more meals away from home, which means they're running into challenges and potential pitfalls for a healthy eating plan.
However, a little planning and know-how will go a long way to help you stay on track when you are on the move.
The following tips can help prevent your healthy eating plan from taking a detour when you are on the road, at the office or running errands.
One of the best ways to keep your healthy eating habits on track when you are away from home is simply to prepare food in advance and take it with you. This takes a little bit of planning, but in the long run you will save time and unnecessary calories.
Don't just think about lunches when doing your advance planning. For those on a busy schedule, breakfast is one of the hardest meals of the day to include in a healthy eating regimen. According to Statistics Canada, nearly 10 per cent of Canadians skip breakfast. However, breakfast is an important source of energy that is linked to cognitive function and memory.
When eating a full and healthy breakfast at home isn’t an option, consider making a low-fat, high-protein smoothie and taking it with you when you leave the house. Other portable and healthy breakfast options include fresh fruit, low fat yogurt with granola, a hardboiled egg or wholegrain toast with peanut butter.
Bringing a healthy lunch to work or school will help prevent high-calorie food purchases at the food court when you are famished.
If raiding the fridge before you leave for work in the morning is your idea of packing a healthy lunch, consider taking some extra time on weekends to batch cook for the week ahead. When making supper, cook double so that you'll have leftovers for lunch during the week that way you can have a hearty, healthy and homemade meal while at work. Divide portions into containers and store them in the fridge or freezer for quick lunches throughout the week.
Perhaps one of the easiest and most effective ways to keep energy levels up when you are away from home is always to have a healthy snack close at hand. Keep something in your bag, desk or car for when energy levels are sagging and you need a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. Having a few healthy staples on hand will prevent you from binging at your next meal, keep you away from sweet temptations like the candy machine, and allow you to get extra nutrients throughout the day.The following snacks are portable and healthy:
Nutsare an excellent snack, high in protein, fibre and monounsaturated fats. Since nuts provide most of their calories from fat, be mindful of your portion size – according to Canada’s Food Guide, one serving of nuts is a quarter cup or 60 millilitres, equivalent to a small handful. Keep a pre-portioned container of nuts handy to provide a boost of energy without overindulging.
Energy barscan help sustain you between meals, but be selective. Not all bars are created equal, and the choice available at grocery and health stores can by dizzying. Try to avoid bars with sugary coatings, opting instead for fruit and wholegrain bars with at least three grams of fibre and no more than two grams of saturated fat.
Fruits and vegetablesare naturally low in fat and high in fibre, making them a wise snack choice. Combine fruit or vegetables with some protein to make you feel fuller longer. Consider mixing berries with yogurt, for example, or apple slices with almond butter, or red pepper strips with hummus.
Crackers and pretzelsaren't taboo, as long as you choose wisely. Complex carbohydrates are healthier than refined carbs so opt for wholegrain crackers, wholegrain pretzels or air popped popcorn, all of which will help to boost your fibre intake and lift your energy levels part way through the day.
Think before you order
According to the 2006 Canadian Community Health Survey, 25 per cent of Canadians interviewed had eaten at a fast food restaurant the day before they were polled. Eating out doesn’t have to have a negative impact on your healthy eating plan, though. In fact, a little common sense can go a long way in making healthy food choices. There are a few things you can do to ensure your calorie intake stays within a reasonable range while dining out.
The most obvious way to cut calories is to avoid fried, breaded or stuffed foods, opting instead for those that are boiled, steamed, grilled or poached.
Educate yourself! Some restaurants have complete nutritional information available online or in-house – use this information to make an educated decision. Also, don’t be afraid to speak up and make a special request. Many restaurants are more than willing to make lower fat substitutions for parts of dishes listed on the menu.
Be mindful of portion size. It is no secret that portion sizes are on the rise, with restaurant chains increasingly using the amount of food they serve as a marketing weapon in the battle to attract customers. In fact, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that the average size of a hamburger increased by 23 per cent between 1977 and 1996, soft drink sizes increased by 52 per cent and portions of french fries by 16 per cent. If you are served an extra-large portion, request that part of the meal be packaged to go before you even start eating this will prevent you from overeating and reduce your calorie intake.
Convenient and portable foods can fit into a healthy eating plan. Smart choices combined with some planning and common sense can help you maintain your healthy eating habits away from home.
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