Skip to content

Stanford nutritionist offers guidelines for eating healthy on the go

To help Americans slim down, Starbucks and other food companies are introducing smaller, lower-calorie meals. In an article published yesterday in USA Today, Stanford nutritionist Jo Ann Hattner called the notion of companies taking steps to make fast food offers healthier "huge" and noted that "if you're on the run, [a lower-calorie meal is] so much better than grabbing a giant slice of pizza."

Below Hattner share additional tips for how to make healthy choices when you're pressed for time, traveling or in a situation where fast food is the only option:

When grabbing lunch or dinner on the go, what tips can you offer on how to choose healthy options?

Try to eat something before you get too hungry. When faced with fast food options order items separately rather than order a meal deal, and if you can make revisions ask for them. For example, “plain burger, no cheese” or “skip the mayo, make mine just mustard” or “no chips." You have to make those choices rather than say, "Well it came with chips... so I ate them.” Take charge of what you eat.

Being health-conscious when traveling can be difficult since food choices along the interstate and in airports are limited. What are some general guidelines travelers can use to eat healthy on the road?

If possible, check out the menu before ordering by going to the eatery's website or using a mobile phone app. Decide what you're ordering before you reach the drive-in window and don’t take the suggestions of the person taking the order. For example, when asked “Do you want fries with that burger?" say no. When going on the road, it's a good idea to pack some of your own food like drinks and fresh fruit.

In the airport look for dishes with greens such as a salad with chicken or fish to which you add the dressing. Other good suggestions are wraps with vegetables, chicken, fish or tofu, and food from Japanese cuisine vendors, which often have lower calorie fresh options.

Remember that you're getting on a plane and sitting, so you don’t want heavy fat laden foods like fries, hot dogs and burgers.

When traveling, you may be tired and this can influence your eating habits. You may be eating [to try to get energy] when what you really need is sleep. Remember that, and try to get some sleep on the next leg of your flight.

A recent study suggested that frequent snacking might be to blame for Americans’ increasing waistlines. What are a few ways to feel more satisfied after meals and curb snacking?

Timing is important. You really need to eat in the morning because you've been fasting overnight and you need fuel. After breakfast, eat again within four hours. Then have lunch, a mid-afternoon snack and then supper. Try to not extend those eating times much beyond four hours. People who don't eat enough during the day tend to overeat in the evening. If you're snacking too often your meals need to be larger.

Do you have any recommendations on healthy foods that busy individuals can keep in a workbag, the car or carry-on bag so they always have an alternative to fast food options?

Nuts are always good and easy to measure out. For example, one ounce of almonds equals about 23 nuts, or roughly a handful. People who start eating nuts as snacks often continue that habit as they find that it's satisfying. It becomes a sustained eating habit, which researchers find is beneficial to maintaining good nutrition.

Another option is half of a peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat bread with a little jelly. It doesn’t spoil in the bottom of your brief case or bag and it's really satisfying when you're caught with nothing to eat but the vending machine choices.

Also, try various bars. Soy Joy, for example, is appealing to many because it comes in several fruit flavors. Before choosing a bar, check the nutrition label and make sure the calories are below 200.

Previously: The dark side of “light” snacks: study shows substitutes may contribute to weight gain, “Snack” offerings in restaurants may be on the rise, More chain restaurants offering nutritional information, healthier options and One cappuccino please – hold the croissant
Photo by WalkingGeek

Popular posts