The hunger pangs hit and the first thing that pops into a persons mind is, where can I eat fast and cheap? Unfortunately, that answer is most likely going to be greasy, fatty, salty, fast food. Americans resort to this type of answer far too often, and given the obesity rates in this country, it’s not hard to believe.
The one in a blue moon burger from In and Out isn’t going to kill you. But if you find yourself constantly struggling to find something decent to eat because you are on the go, something needs to change.
There are three types of eaters in the world. The unhealthy eaters eat pretty much whatever they want. They pay little attention to food labels, and have no problem eating fast food for lunch 5 days a week. They either don’t care or have a misunderstanding about nutrition and their health. These people run the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other serious ailments.
The next group are the healthy eaters. These individuals don’t feel pressure to eat clean. It has become a part of who they are and is no longer a struggle. They try to go organic when possible and stay away from processed foods and other junk. Lean white meats, fish, almonds, fruits, and vegetables make up a large part of their diet. These people actually enjoy these healthy foods, which makes sticking to their routine easy.
Last, we have the dieting group. Often, these people will try to emulate the healthy group, but only for temporary periods of time. “Dieting” does not work, no matter what diet you are on. Lifestyle modification however, does work. This is the group we want to target in this article. We all know the fast food option is bad, and this group even cares about eating right, but they will rationalize with themselves and end up eating it when they are in a pinch for time. The unhealthy group simply likes fast food and doesn’t care (another article for another time). The healthy group can’t stand fast food and doesn’t need to be told not to eat it. The dieters are the one’s who need the extra help at this point.
Preparation is key to eating healthy any time of the day. We all know eating on the go can be especially hard, but if you have a solid plan in place, it will be no harder than eating at home on a lazy Sunday afternoon. It really is as easy as it sounds. Take an extra 10-15 minutes in the morning (or night before) to make meals for the rest of the day. What I mean by this is, make 3 meals you can eat at work. Have breakfast at home (meal 1), bring almonds and fruit (meal 2), turkey sandwich on wheat (meal 3), and tuna salad over romaine lettuce (meal 4). We should be shooting for 6 small meals a day. Just take a little time to get them made and you are out of the quandry altogether.
When you prepare your meals, a little planning needs to go into them. You want to include ample sources of protein, carbs, and healthy fats. Almonds and avocados are great sources of healthy fats. A simply grilled chicken breast is a fantastic source of protein. Brown rice and whole wheat pasta are good sources of carbs…just be sure not to overdo it here. Prepare your meals with your fitness goals in mind. If you are on a weight loss diet, cut the carbs down to about 10-20% of your daily caloric intake. If you are trying to build muscle, increase your protein to about 120-200 grams a day, dependent upon bodyweight. Preparation is useless without calculated planning.
Far too often you will make far more food than you actually need for the day. Instead of letting it go to waste in your office, you decide to eat it all. On the flip side, maybe you don’t bring enough and those hunger pangs come back before the day is done. You may find yourself back at the drive-thru window. This is why 5-6 smaller meals a day is key. You should be eating about every 3 hours. Bring enough food to keep your hunger at bay. If you have to measure your food with a scale or measuring cups at first, feel free. Just find the portion size that works best for you, without adding excess calories to your diet, which will result in weight gain.
In conclusion, each individual reading this needs to figure out what eating category they fall into. Unhealthy, healthy, or dieting. Once you know where you stand you can make the neccessary changes, if needed. If you are in the unhealthy category, work on slowly shifting away from your poor eating habits and slide into the dieting group. This is a small step in the right direction. If you are a healthy eater, keep on keeping on. If you are in the dieting group, you’ve already recognized which foods are bad for your body and in theory, want to avoid them. Follow these three steps and you will be one of the healthy eaters in no time.