Whether it’s travel or just a busy season, often we have to make adjustments to our food choices. Learning to eat healthy on the go is absolutely vital to turning a short term diet into a full lifestyle. The key to this process is figuring out a few basic patterns that can keep up with your speed of life.
The 5 tips below are carefully selected to help you think through your options and find a system that works for your life, your personality, your preferences and your unique circumstances.
Healthy On the Go Tip #1: Plan Ahead
If you know your routine is going to be different, plan for it! Planning will help you mentally resolve to still eat healthy and will give you choices you might not have otherwise.
Ideally, you will create not just a one time plan for a new restaurant, a busy week or one travel experience. Instead, when you practice planning ahead, it should become easier over time.
At first it might feel awkward to make a special request at a restaurant or to pack your own food. But as you figure out what plans work for you, you will be able to make adjustments over time and implement when life just surprises you.
Healthy On the Go Tip #2: Pack Food
One of the ways you can plan ahead is opting to pack your own food. Packing healthy food choices means that you get to bring some of your favorites along.
If you have the energy and want to meal prep, go for it! But typically I just toss in some pre-packaged or easy whole food favorites.
Some of my favorite foods to pack:
- Apple slices
- Cubed cheese
- Cut up veggies
- Small container of hummus
- A square or two of dark chocolate
I also keep some sugar-free sweetener packs in my purse.
Sometimes it’s not as much about what you pack as it is about the intentionality of packing healthy food. It is a simple step that works to increase your motivation to make healthy choices by simply increasing the amount of effort to obtain less healthy foods.
Healthy On the Go Tip #3: Pre-Select Healthy Food
When I know I will be going to a new restaurant, I try to look at the menu ahead of time.
Making a decision on the food beforehand can make you more likely to choose something healthy.
Once other people are present and discussing the options on the menu, your resolve might waver. The smells of the food might sway you. Or just the low lights and “free” basket of low quality carbs will shift your desires. Even listening to the waiter list off the specials can be distracting at times!
When pre-selecting foods for a new restaurant, I look for basic healthy options. Overall, I want some sort of protein and vegetables. I often will look for steak or salmon. Chicken can be tricky because it’s often breaded or cooked in sauces that make it less healthy.
- Breads: These will spike your insulin and leave you feeling bloated
- Sauces: I love sauces, so this one is hard. But sauces are often filled with several sugary culprits: high fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, sucralose, etc. and they have just enough spices to give them a bit of flavor to the sugar… no thanks. I will still consume salad dressings but generally prefer them on the side as they are often overdone in most restaurants.
- Desserts: This one is kind of obvious. These are designed with indulgence in mind and rarely your health. Instead, I will pack a square or two of dark chocolate or wait until I get home to make myself a delightful sugar-free dessert. Although, the longer I have gone without sugar, the less I really crave dessert.
Healthy On the Go Tip #4: Hydrate!
When you are hydrated well, you are less likely to reach for the unhealthy stuff! Most people have a preferred way to get hydrated. Personally I prefer ice cold water so a large well insulated cup that keeps water cold for hours at a time is a must have!
If you prefer flavored water, you can look into sugar-free water flavorings like True Lemon packets.
Occasionally when I go out of town I will also pack some of my favorite bags of tea so I always have something hydrating to enjoy.
Healthy On the Go Tip #5: Plan a Healthy Indulgence to Anticipate
This is perhaps my favorite tip! When you plan for an indulgent but healthy meal to eat when you resume “normal” life, you look forward to it!
It may sound weird, but when I travel I really start to miss cooking in my own kitchen. After about 3 or 4 days, I start dreaming of all the delightfully indulgent healthy meals I want to make when I get back home! I find it helps me make healthy choices that are a little harder to make on the go.
Some of my favorite indulgences:
- Eggs with all the fixin’s: 3-4 veggies, cheese, a small handful of ground beef
- Muffin in a Minute recipe: There are tons of these sugar-free options floating on Pinterest… my go to’s are lemon or chocolate
- THM Skinny Chocolate: This is chocolate that revs your metabolism and allows you the freedom to enjoy chocolate guilt-free! (Recipe is in all of the Trim Healthy Mama books, but there are other versions available online as well… it’s mostly coconut oil, unsweetened cocoa powder and sugar-free sweetener)
The Bottom Line: Balance Grace and Determination
When you are eating on the go, remember to give yourself grace.
One meal won’t entirely derail your health goals… but don’t let one slip up encourage you to give up entirely!
Guilt and regret while eating can actually decrease the amount of nutrition you get from your foods! So instead, choose whatever foods you can eat without guilt and enjoy them.
When you are able to get back to your life-as-usual routine, find an enjoyable way to dive back into your healthy eating habits.
I hope this post will help you choose healthy even when life is busy. The biggest thing is to make plans and stick to them.
Like I mentioned above, you really need to figure out some go-to options that tend to work for you. It takes time to learn how to build a healthy pattern of choices that is flexible enough to keep up with your life.