A muffin or a cupcake? If you were in a rush and wanted to make a healthy decision, which would you choose? While many would reach for the muffin as they hurry out the door, on average, it has 100 calories more than a cupcake.
Often times, food items marketed as healthy are packed with hidden sugar, fat and sodium. For instance, a McDonald's Fruit 'n Yogurt Parfait is loaded with 23g of sugar, and a Wendy's Asiago Ranch Chicken Club Sandwich weighs in at 670 calories! So, how do we make healthy choices on the go?
“It comes down to three basic steps,” says Liane Vadheim, RD, Holy Rosary Healthcare. “Planning, shopping and eating.”
Summer means busier schedules than ever before. Between social engagements, chauffeuring children and outdoor activities, hunger can catch you off-guard. Being on-the-go and hungry is the perfect recipe for unhealthy choices.
“Buy a cool, insulated lunch bag and make sure you pack snacks with you,” says Vadheim. “Put your lunch bag next to your purse, wallet or keys. As you’re running out the door, you can grab quick items to toss in – string cheese, Greek yogurt, fruit, wraps, hummus and pita chips, snap peas, cherry tomatoes, even a slice of leftover veggie pizza.”
Packing your lunch bag means having convenient, healthy items in the house. When you grocery shop, stay around the perimeter of the store, venturing down the aisles only for specific items you need. The healthy choices are on the perimeter, while processed foods, candy and soft drinks are in the middle.
“Often I hear people say fruits and vegetables are too expensive,” continues Vadheim. “But beer and chips are expensive. To save money, look for what’s in season. The price will be better and it will taste better too. This summer, buy what’s on special — items like watermelon, berries, peaches, peas and carrots.”
The final step is listening to your body and only eating when you’re hungry. When you’re in the car, it’s easy to eat out of habit and, if you’re stressed, it’s easy to eat from emotion. “Ask yourself, ‘Why am I eating?’” says Vadheim. “If the answer is because you’re hungry — good. But, if it’s because you’re bored or emotional, then stop.”
So, what if all else fails and you end up at the drive-thru? Vadheim has some suggestions for this too. “Download a free app like CalorieKing or MyFitnessPal. These apps let you enter any food from a chain store or restaurant and get the calorie count and nutrition information.”