This is a question mentioned by many who are on the run whether it is on their days off or at work. As a nurse, I am very familiar with eating on the run and not having time to sit down for lunch, let alone have a complete lunch. I have days at work where my only choice is to eat while I chart. Luckily they allow me to do that. I could stop, but it would be almost impossible to relax with so many deadlines that need to be met and constant phone calls. I am not advocating this, but it is necessary sometimes and especially when working day shift as a nurse.
Choosing healthy options takes a little preparation and knowledge of what exactly is healthy to eat on the run. Below are some of my top healthy foods to pack in your purse, backpack, car and/or desk when don’t have time to stop.
Before I get into the main purpose of this post I wanted to mention, if you can stop to eat do it. Do not jeopardize your health (and good attitude) by skipping a meal when you have the ability to enjoy one. Often we need to separate from what we are doing for a short period to eat. It does not have to be for an hour. Often it may take only 15 or 20 minutes to eat a meal. This will allow your body to digest in a non-stressful environment and, believe it or not, it will allow you to chew your food better. When rushing, we rarely allow enough time to let our bodies digest our food thus limiting our ability to extract the nutrients from the food.
Now that I have made myself clear, here are my top picks for healthy snacks when on the go:
Beef Jerky – I use a brand called Nick’s Sticks. It is grass-fed beef jerky and without all the additives. The best part; it will annihilate your hunger. They come two sticks in a pack, and I challenge you to eat two packs and say you’re still hungry. There are many high-quality brands of beef jerky on the market these days, but I stick with Nick’s Sticks.
Go Nuts – You can use almonds, walnuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, pistachios, and/ or macadamia nuts. You can even use peanuts, but they are not the healthiest nut and actually are a legume, which means higher carbohydrate intake and more inflammatory than you might anticipate. I tend to limit my intake or avoid peanuts altogether. For storing your nuts you may put a sealable bag in your purse or car or keep on hand. Keep in mind, you will want to eat them within a couple of weeks because nuts tend to get moldy if they are not in the fridge after being opened. Make sure you do not overdo the nuts because they do have a lot of calories. They are mostly fat calories, which cut down on your sugar intake.
If you don’t like plain nuts, you can always get some deluxe nut mix made with sea salt and peanut oil. They are very good, although I do not normally recommend peanut oil, it may be better than grabbing something highly processed out of the snack machine.
Nut Butters – My wife and I use a brand called Justin’s almond butter because they have the option of buying little packets of almond butter that fit nicely in your pocket or purse without having to carry the jar around with you. They are a quality brand and can be found in most health food stores, Wal-Mart or Harris Teeter to name a few. The Maple flavor is our favorite, and it does not have that much-added sugar. They do have other flavors such as honey, chocolate hazelnut, and vanilla but I would stay with maple and classic (plain) due to lower sugar content. Any flavor nut butter is fine but make sure it does not have a lot of added sugar (ie. more than 5g per serving).
Larabars –These are a sweeter option that was made popular during the increased popularity of the Whole30 program. If you have not heard of the Whole30 program check it out here. There are about 30 different flavors of Larabars, and they are made of whole foods and sweetened with dates. Only about 10 of the Larabars are actually approved for the Whole30 program, however. You can find the list here. If you are struggling with weight loss, these tend to have too much sugar in them even though the sugar is from dates (a whole food). I would suggest you stick with nuts and nut butter as a better weight loss solution but a larabar now and then will not hurt. Just don’t eat three or four a day.
Fig Bar – My wife likes fig bars. I like them too but tend to use beef jerky or nuts to decrease the sugar content. You may not be able to snack on food that does not have some sweetness to it, so that is why I have provided the fig bars and larabars for you. It is important to get the right kind of fig bar because there are a lot that are not good for you and are heavily processed. Go here to purchase a fig bar my wife and I use.
These are a few options my wife and I have found that work for us when we are on the go. These foods do a great job of satisfying our cravings until we can get home or have time to sit down and cook a healthy meal. This is always the best option if you are able to do so.
Often making good food choices is a matter of preparation. These are some good foods to have on hand in those moments when you are hungry and need something quick. This will keep you from making poor eating habits such as: going to the nearest fast food restaurant; snack machine; or eating the cinnamon rolls on the break room table leftover from the day before. Your coworkers may find that odd, so be prepared for some questions or maybe even a subtle guilt trip. Just say, “no”, and your body will thank you for it.
I hope the suggestions in this article will help you to make healthier choices in the busyness of life. Let me know what works for you and your family when you are on the run. I am always open to new healthy suggestions. If you found this information useful or you think it may be useful for someone you know, share it with him, or her, by email or on Facebook. As always, send me an email if you have questions. Have a healthy week!