Healthy eating – not so difficult, right? When you’re at home surrounded by beloved pots and pans, fresh ingredients and wholesome snacks, it’s really not that hard to swap out that chocolate bar for almonds and that gooey Caesar salad for a spinach chicken version instead.
But while you absolutely deserve to be congratulated for a healthy home eating routine, that’s not where most people fall down. In fact, when we’re out and about is typically when we slip up the most. Reasons vary, from the fact that we have the excuse of being away from our healthy ingredients to the fact that we’re just plain busy, but either way, being on the go often leads to poor diet choices and unnecessary calories.
So what to do? A lot of people just can’t help being away from home: traveling for work via plane, train or automobile; extended stays for your job or vacation; just being away for the day for work or social outings. So we’re offering a few tips to help you build a healthy eating routine that survives the realities of modern living, so you can look the way you want.
This one seems pretty obvious, but a surprising number of people undervalue this healthy eating step. Just having snacks on hand is often enough to halt your Ho-Ho purchase, because it makes you look at both the calories and the money you shouldn’t to be spending. Sadly, most of us are more motivated by financial concerns that by our own health – the premise of popular goal-setting sites like StickK, where if you fail, you have to donate money to a cause you despise.
Packing healthy snacks operates on much the same premise; we’ll go a long way to avoid unnecessary financial expenditures. While you might happily down that bag of chips if there’s nothing else on hand, you’ll definitely think twice if you’ve got baby carrots in your purse.
There’s no better asset to a healthy eating plan than a grocery store. If possible, locate a nearby shop (close to your temporary hotel, say, or next to your office) and make that your go-to for snacks and mealtime. If possible, select one loaded with fresh produce and bulk bins, which usually have healthier snack options such as nuts and dried fruit. Bring back pre-prepared salads and sushi rolls to your hotel room or to the office fridge, and reach for those when you’re hungry rather than the M&M bowl.
If you tend to think of mini-fridges as wallet-busting booze zones, good only for blowing your entire per diem on a single drink … think again. While most of us tend to ignore the mini-fridge for fear of getting sucked into buying $10 drinks, this is actually a lifesaver when it comes to healthy eating on the go. With a mini-fridge on hand, you can both bring perishable food from home and buy it from your nearby grocery store. Where possible, ask whether your room has one when booking your hotel.
Sometimes the reason we don’t eat healthier food is we just don’t feel like we have time. Accordingly, we grab any old thing and call it a meal, then rush off to the next task. Taking time to eat a real meal on the go, however, is crucial to your health goals. Typically it takes us between 15 and 20 minutes of eating to feel full, no matter how much or how little we eat in that time. If you jam down a protein bar, you’re less likely to feel satisfied, and more likely to eat another snack an hour later.
You can lend your healthy eating habits a hand by bringing a lunch that takes a while to eat (like a salad or a veggie-rich lox toast), then popping in some headphones and listening to an audiobook for 20 minutes. Giving yourself time to actually eat not only ups the chances you’ll get a healthy lunch or dinner on the go, it also helps you eat more slowly, digest better, and feel more full. Wear quality workout earbuds to minimize noise from the street or office lunchroom, then tuck them away for your workout when you’re done.
We tend to think of healthy eating as a huge life change, but really, a few small adjustments can help you live a lot more wholesomely. Start by changing your approach to eating out of the house, and you might be surprised where it leads.