Leading a busy life often leads to a lousy diet, but you can find healthy food on the run. When you’re on the go and have a long list of things to do, having healthy snacks planned ahead of time is essential.
Your plan will prevent split-second decisions when you are hungry. Making or buying healthy snacks in advance is a way to make sure a busy life doesn’t lead to an unhealthy diet. Fast food is – overwhelming – unhealthy food. But with smart planning you can avoid the “What do I eat right now?” situation that leads to poor health.
What’s Wrong with Some Junk Food Here and There?
The big problem with junk food is that it’s a coyote in disguise. Its purpose is to trick you into believing that you are filled up and satisfied nutritionally. In reality, when you eat junk food, you will be feeling a false sense of satisfaction from the food. An hour and a half to two hours later, you will be hungry again.
However, with a healthy meal, you would not be hungry for 3-1/2 to 4 hours after eating. You need fewer snacks during the day when you are eating a healthy diet.
In fact, monitoring yourself for when you get hungry during the day – how many hours after a meal that the hunger arises – is a good indication of the healthiness of the food you ate.
One thing to consider about this is that it’s assuming you ate enough of the food, and yet not too much. A few spoonfuls of a meal or a half of the normal volume of food eaten in a meal will cause you to be hungry within a few hours.
All this discussion doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t ever eat snacks. Healthy snacks are great for days when you eat breakfast at 6:30, lunch at 12:30, and dinner at 7 pm. Between breakfast and lunch, there are six hours, and there are 6-1/2 hours between lunch and dinner.
Since the average healthy meal with the right number of calories – anywhere from 350 to 500 calories – will only sustain you for 4 hours, you will need enough calories to make up the difference during those 2 hours. That’s anywhere from 100 to 200 calories for a snack that’s needed.
7 Healthy Food on the Run Snacks
Adults have essential nutrition needs. If we are not filling these needs we are depleting our bodies of the necessary nutrients to function optimally. A day or two here and there eating high-sodium, high-fat meals is not going to do us much harm. However, busy lives lead to poor decisions when it comes to diet, and a day or two here and there can easily lead to dietary habits we must avoid.
Here are seven possible options for you for healthy snacks. Put them on your shopping list for your weekly grocery store trip. Plan ahead, package the food, buy a small cooler, and eat healthier while also saving money.
1) Greek Yogurt
All Greek yogurts are not alike. Some are low fat, no fat or full fat. It may be counterintuitive to think that low fat or no fat Greek yogurt is not the best choice.
Milk products are perfectly balanced in protein, fat and carbohydrates. When the ratios are changed and fat eliminated, the way the food affects your metabolism is also altered. The fat would have delayed your hunger for extra time if it had been left in the product.
The low fat and no fat yogurts may raise your insulin levels from the carbohydrates in them, which will make you hungry again within the next hour. Thus, your best bet is full fat yogurt. But do check the label to make sure that the company hasn’t added a lot of extra sugar to the container. The less sugar in a Greek yogurt, the healthier it will be.
2) Veggies with Hummus
Very few of us eat enough vegetables. Yet they are widely available. You can pick up a whole relish tray for about $10 at any of the superstores. It may be a good idea for you to add a relish tray to your grocery list every week.
There are many different types of hummus on the market as well. Trader Joe’s stores have these as some of their options: Tabouleh style hummus, olive hummus, dill pickle hummus, roasted red pepper hummus, roasted garlic hummus, white bean and basil hummus, organic spicy avocado hummus, Mediterranean hummus, eggplant hummus, three layer hummus, chocolate hummus, cilantro and jalapeno hummus, and edamame hummus.
Each of them contains only about 60 calories for 2 tablespoons and the vegetables you eat with them may contain anywhere from 5 to 25 calories total. The fiber in the vegetables will fill you up and allow you to ‘last’ without hunger until your next meal.
3) Plant-Based Crackers With Nut Butter
Crackers have reached a whole new level of nutrition and are made from cauliflower, rice, seeds and whole grains. You don’t need a whole lot of them to give you a burst of energy and adding a dab of nut butter on them prolongs your hunger for up to three hours before your next meal.
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Between the crackers and the nut butters, you may be able to add another 5-10 grams fiber in your diet for the day.
4) Fresh Fruits
Whatever fresh fruits you can get into your diet, you’re doing a good deed for your body. Consider what extra benefits you want to gain from your choice.
If you’ve been dehydrated or want to boost your body’s water content, choose watermelon, honeydew, or cantaloupe. If you want more fiber, choose apples, pears, figs, persimmons, guava, or blackberries. If you feel the need to chew, select apples.
Is your immunity a little low? Choose grapefruit, kiwi, strawberries, oranges, papaya, or guavas.
Homemade is always best because homemade soup retains the nutrients. Once soup is canned, it loses a lot of its probiotics and all the nutrients that are lost with heat. Some of the most filling soups include black bean or other bean soup, butternut squash soup, and chicken noodle soup.
6) Fruit With Cottage Cheese
Eating fruit with cottage cheese – or other cheese – is a good way to balance out the carbohydrates of fruits. Cottage cheese contains protein, fat and carbohydrates so when you consume it, cottage cheese is perceived as a complete meal, thus sustaining your energy for a much longer period of time.
You don’t need much for this healthy snack to work – about ¼ cup cottage cheese and one half of an apple or pear. This will be enough to satisfy your hunger.
Nuts are a great addition to your diet. They help you lower your cholesterol level. The medicinal ingredients inside nuts combine with the cholesterol in the body and bind it so that cholesterol levels can remain low. One handful a day is enough to provide benefits to your heart.
Much Better than Fast Food
Healthy food on the run, like the examples mentioned, are infinitely superior to what you will get by going through most drive through restaurants that make your food to go in a matter of minutes. Fast food had terrible effects on the body.
Fast food is packed with preservatives (sodium), so it increases your blood pressure. It leaves you bloated, increases your cholesterol, creates digestive problems, increases your weight, drains your energy, and impacts your mood.
Be wise. Take a few minutes to plan your food if you’re a busy person. Food on the run doesn’t have to be unhealthy food.