What started as an innocent tummy rumble 20 minutes ago has eclipsed into a gnawing, all-encompassing, “If I don’t eat in the next 5 minutes I will eat my arm off” kind of hunger. This is a fairly big deal, especially if you happen to be in the car, nearly late for your destination and the only hunger relief in sight is narrowed pitifully down to gas station snack fare, drive through French fries, or a doughnut shop. You sigh, convince yourself that you have EARNED this custard-filled Long John, and snack-drive on to your appointment. Sure, the doughnut was good, but the letdown you feel afterwards, part sugar and fat-induced brain slump, part guilt at messing up your otherwise mostly-decent dietary choices, is actually worse than the hunger you originally felt. Sound familiar?
With your busy schedule, you’re on the go. A LOT! And frankly, there’s not always time for healthy meal planning. Unfortunately with hunger, now means NOW—whether the “now” happens to be lunchtime, dinnertime, or otherwise. If left unplanned for, when it strikes its greedy wrath, it can leave you shaking your head in wonder at the wadded-up king-sized bag of chips it left in its wake as you brush the neon orange crumbs of shame from your chin. However, with some noshing know-how, you can easily leave on-the-go impulse eating confidently in your wake regardless of how much planning time you’ve had. If you find yourself with:
- No time to plan: Come prepared. The Boy Scouts were right all along. This simple mantra packs a punch when it comes to on-the-go eating. Dedicate one small area of the front seat of your car (think: side door pocket, glove box, center console) to be your snack station and pack it with car-friendly goodies that can get you from A to B (or from breakfast to lunch). Good ideas are individually packaged single servings of jerky, small baggies of nuts, popcorn or pumpkin seeds, or nut-based snack bars. Snacks that have good amounts of protein, healthy fats and fiber will be the most satisfying. Just make sure the goodies are things that you’ll be excited about eating. Remember – they’ll be competing with the Mister Milkshake you’ll be passing. Also, don’t forget to restock weekly!
- Five minutes to plan: Your lunch tote is good for more than just taking last night’s leftovers to work. It can be a healthy eating vehicle for your vehicle! Think driving-friendly foods. A turkey/cheese/lettuce wrap just takes a minute to make, as does spreading almond butter on some celery, or even melting some cheese and black beans in a whole grain tortilla. Throw in an apple or some grapes, and you’re “good to go.” If you must hit the drive-through, remember that you don’t have to order straight off the menu. Even the fastest of the fast food restaurants can make your burger “your way” with no processed cheese, no bun and heavy on the veggies.
- Fifteen minutes to plan: If you’re headed to a restaurant for lunch, always check out the menu online first. When you’re not “in the moment” in front of the server, starving, and likely to succumb to what your tablemates are ordering, you’re able to think more clearly and logically about what to choose. And then, stick with it!
If you do find yourself in the dreaded “healthy food desert” and you need lunch – pronto? Head for the refrigerated case and stake out the packaged deli meats, cheese, or even a yogurt (not exactly car-friendly, but fast to eat once you arrive at your destination). As far as the packaged stuff goes, you’ll likely find a bag of nuts or popcorn in amongst the chips and cookies if you look hard enough.
With some forethought and planning, eating on the run doesn’t have to be a junk food fest. With our few helpful tips, you can not only eat wisely, but also have energy and pizazz for wherever your on-the-go day takes you.