Maintaining a healthy diet while on the go can be challenging, but with some planning and mindful choices, it is possible. Here is a guide to healthy eating on the go:
- Plan Ahead: Before traveling or dining out, research and plan your meals in advance. Look for restaurants or eateries that offer healthier options or have menus with a variety of nutritious choices.
- Pack Snacks: Prepare and pack healthy snacks to have on hand. Some portable options include fresh fruits, cut vegetables, nuts, seeds, protein bars, or yogurt cups. Having nutritious snacks readily available can help you avoid unhealthy options when hunger strikes.
- Choose Balanced Meals: When ordering at a restaurant, aim for balanced meals that include lean proteins, whole grains, and plenty of vegetables. Look for grilled, baked, or steamed options instead of fried foods. Opt for whole-grain bread or brown rice over refined grains.
- Control Portions: Be mindful of portion sizes, as restaurant servings are often larger than necessary. Consider sharing a meal or asking for a to-go container to pack leftovers for later. You can also order an appetizer or a side dish instead of a full entrée.
- Prioritize Vegetables and Salads: Include vegetables in your meals whenever possible. Choose salads as a main dish or as a side and ask for dressing on the side to control the amount used. Load up on colorful vegetables to increase the nutrient content of your meal.
The basics of healthy eating
The basics of healthy eating involve adopting a balanced and nutritious diet that provides essential nutrients while supporting overall health and well-being. Here are some key principles to consider:
- Eat a Variety of Foods: Include a diverse range of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats in your diet. This ensures you’re obtaining a wide array of vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients.
- Portion Control: Pay attention to portion sizes to avoid overeating. Use measuring cups, scales, or visual cues to guide you in serving appropriate portion sizes for different food groups.
- Prioritize Whole Foods: Choose whole, unprocessed foods over highly processed options. Whole foods tend to be higher in nutrients and lower in added sugars, unhealthy fats, and artificial additives.
- Include Fruits and Vegetables: Aim to include a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables in your meals. They provide essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. Try to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables.
- Choose Whole Grains: Opt for whole grain products such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, and oats. Whole grains retain their nutrient-rich bran and germ layers, providing more fiber, vitamins, and minerals compared to refined grains.
How to fill your plate for a healthy meal
Filling your plate with a variety of nutritious foods is an excellent way to create a healthy and balanced meal. Here’s a general guide to filling your plate for a healthy meal:
- Vegetables: Fill at least half of your plate with a colorful variety of non-starchy vegetables. These include leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, carrots, zucchini, and tomatoes. Vegetables are low in calories, rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
- Protein: Allocate about a quarter of your plate to a lean source of protein. This can include skinless poultry, fish, seafood, lean cuts of beef or pork, tofu, tempeh, legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas), or eggs. Protein is essential for muscle growth, repair, and overall health.
- Whole Grains/Starches: Reserve the remaining quarter of your plate for whole grains or starchy foods. Choose options such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, whole grain pasta, sweet potatoes, or corn. Whole grains provide fiber, vitamins, minerals, and sustained energy.
- Healthy Fats: Include small portions of healthy fats in your meal. These can come from sources like avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, or fatty fish (salmon, tuna). Healthy fats contribute to satiety, help absorb fat-soluble vitamins, and provide essential fatty acids.
- Add Flavor with Herbs and Spices: Enhance the taste of your meal with herbs, spices, and seasonings instead of relying on excess salt or sugary sauces. Experiment with options like garlic, turmeric, basil, oregano, cilantro, cumin, paprika, or lemon juice to add flavor without adding extra calories or sodium.
Healthy snacks are an important part of a balanced diet, providing energy between meals and preventing excessive hunger. Here are some ideas for healthy snacks:
- Fresh Fruits: Enjoy a piece of fresh fruit like apples, bananas, oranges, berries, grapes, or sliced melons. Fruits are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
- Raw Vegetables: Snacks on raw vegetables like carrot sticks, cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, bell pepper strips, or celery sticks. Pair them with hummus, Greek yogurt dip, or nut butter for added flavor and protein.
- Nuts and Seeds: Opt for a handful of unsalted nuts such as almonds, walnuts, pistachios, or cashews. Seeds like pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, or chia seeds are also nutritious options. Be mindful of portion sizes, as nuts and seeds are calorie-dense.
- Greek Yogurt: Choose plain Greek yogurt and top it with fresh berries, sliced fruits, or a sprinkle of granola for added texture. Greek yogurt is high in protein and calcium.
- Homemade Energy Balls: Make your own energy balls using a combination of nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and a natural sweetener like honey or dates. They are a convenient and nutritious snack option.
How skipping meals can backfire
Skipping meals, especially on a regular basis, can have negative effects on your health and overall well-being. Here are some reasons why skipping meals can backfire:
- Nutrient Deficiencies: By skipping a meal, you miss out on an opportunity to provide your body with the essential nutrients it needs for energy, growth, and repair. Over time, nutrient deficiencies can develop, leading to various health issues.
- Increased Hunger: Skipping meals can disrupt your hunger and fullness cues, leading to increased hunger and cravings later on. This may result in overeating or making unhealthy food choices when you finally do eat, as your body tries to compensate for the missed meal.
- Slowed Metabolism: Irregular meal patterns, including skipping meals, can disrupt your body’s metabolism. When you consistently skip meals, your body may go into “starvation mode,” slowing down your metabolic rate in an effort to conserve energy. This can make it harder to maintain a healthy weight.
- Blood Sugar Imbalances: Skipping meals, particularly breakfast or meals containing carbohydrates, can cause blood sugar levels to drop too low. This can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, irritability, and difficulty concentrating.