Eating Healthy On the Go: Tips From A Registered Dietitian

Life is somewhat returning to normal and for many of us that means BACK ON THE ROAD, to and from work, kids’ school and after school activities, and out and about for daily errands.

If we’re not careful, we can quickly find ourselves relying on fast-casual, highly processed, fried food chains to provide our daily nutritional requirements, leading to undesirable health concerns. A single quick junk food fix can increase inflammation throughout the body which can eventually damage healthy cells, tissues, and organs.

The good news is there’s often times a healthier option available if we know what to look for when eating on the go. Take a look at these tips below and then my top nutritious picks from popular eateries.

Be prepared:


Have snacks with you to prevent a blood sugar crash and carb craving that’ll send you immediately to the donut drive-thru.

The center console and glove box of my car are stocked with high fiber, high protein snacks like protein bars, whole grain crackers, low sugar granola, individual mixed raw nuts packets, squeeze pouches of nut butter, individual whole grain rice cakes, and shelf staple protein shakes.

Having these snacks enables me to curb my appetite when my blood sugar drops and allows me to make more health-conscious decisions for meals eaten out.

Try to eat regularly:

Don’t skip meals. Skipping meals leads to an increase in hunger when mealtime finally rolls around for you. At this point, you’ll be less likely to make nutritious decisions and you’ll eat way faster than normal leading to physical discomfort.

When eating out or ordering food on the go, make these healthy swaps:

  • Water instead of soda, fruit juice, or coffee (limit caffeine consumption to prevent issues sleeping).
  • Small size instead of medium, large, or super-size. The bigger the size, the more fat, sodium, and sugar- none of which are highly nutritious.
  • Vegetable instead of starch or fried. Reconsider the high fat, high sodium fry side that comes with most meals and swap it in for a mega-dose of micronutrients with a kale superfood, side salad, bag of carrots, or whatever green goodness the restaurant offers.
  • Whole grains instead of processed, refined carbohydrates. Whole grains provide a load of fiber which can help you to feel fuller longer and aid in lowering cholesterol and blood sugar, and combat hypertension. Swap the white bun, white bread, white pasta, and white wraps for whole -+brown rice, barley, or oats.
  • Sauce, spreads, and dressing on the side instead of mixed in. Asking for sauce, condiments, and dressing on the side allows you to control the amount of added fat and sodium in the meal. Use just enough of these to add a bit of taste, texture, or flavor to the meal.
  • Steamed, baked, broiled, grilled or roasted instead of fried or battered.

Decide on your go-to nutritious option, and stick with it. Peek at the menu (or follow the guidelines below) to have an idea of a super nutritious menu selection that’s higher in protein, fiber, and vitamins, and lower in calories, fat, sugar, and sodium.

My go-to’s as a registered dietitian when eating out:

Chick-Fil-A

  • Market Salad with a Grilled Chicken Filet dressing on the side.
  • Lemon Kale Caesar Salad with Grilled Nuggets.
  • Grilled Nuggets with a superfood kale crunch side salad.

CAVA

  • A half portion of greens with a half portion of lentils topped with falafel and skinless grilled chicken
    topped with cabbage slaw and cauliflower quinoa with carrots and currants, cucumber, lemon wedge, mint, pickled banana peppers, pickled onion, shredded romaine, and the tomato and cucumber salad, eggplant and red pepper spreads, with lemon tahini dressing on the side.

CHIPOTLE

  • Light scoop of brown rice with cilantro-lime cauliflower rice, fajita veggies, salsa, and lettuce, a scoop of black beans, scoop of lean protein and a crunchy taco shell on the side.

CHOPT

  • A blend of mesclun, arugula and spinach with cucumber, hearts of palm, grape tomatoes, black beans, red onion, carrots, and tomato, plus FreeBird grilled chicken and avocado, with balsamic dressing on the side.

SUBWAY, JIMMY JOHNS, WAWA SANDWICH SHOP

  • Low sodium turkey breast on whole grain, sprouted grain, or whole wheat bread with toppings such as cucumber, tomato, sprouts, lettuce, pickles, onions, and a spread such as mustard, oil and vinegar, and oregano for seasoning.

PANERA

  • You pick two, sandwich and salad: Turkey on whole grain with tomato, arugula, and onion, light mayo or mayo on the side + a spinach, bacon, and poppyseed salad (light bacon).

WAWA

  • Egg white breakfast bowl with chicken steak, fresh salsa and spinach with a side of strawberries and blueberries fruit cup and a mini bag of carrots.

 

Written by registered dietitian, Bethany Watkins.
Visit her blog, Happy Body Wellness, and follow her on social media @happybodywellness.