Fast food presents a serious challenge for anyone who cares about their diet. While it’s fairly easy to watch what you eat at home or at work, when you’re traveling or have a very busy irregular summer schedule, you can find yourself at the mercy of the culinary elements.
Fast food, in particular, although undeniably convenient, is typically high in fat and low in nutrition. Your basic deluxe cheeseburger, for example, contains the maximum amount of fat and sodium that should be included in a normal adult’s caloric intake for an entire day and a half. Many fast food meals are also low in fiber and vitamins. When you factor in caffeine and/or alcohol consumption, which usually surges during vacation time, you can wind up with a nutritional nightmare.
Consider the following strategies for healthy eating while you’re out and about this summer season.
Have a picnic: You can easily adapt a well-packed picnic to your busy schedule, and it will provide you with an opportunity to eat more nutritionally. For example, a picnic lunch consisting of healthy sandwiches, fresh fruit, nuts, and water can be every bit as filling and much better for you than a burger, fries, and a soda. Just remember to keep hot things hot and cold things cold by either preparing them just prior to consuming them or packing and storing them in an ice chest.
Snack smart: For in-between meal snacks, keep fresh fruit handy or munch on carrot and celery sticks. Even granola bars, popcorn, or baked pretzels are better for you than sugary sodas, coffee drinks, or candy bars.
Manage menus: Almost all restaurant menus now offer healthy choices. Choose dishes tagged with a heart or other health-conscious symbol, and keep in mind that frying equates to fatty food. A grilled chicken sandwich contains fewer calories and less fat than its breaded and deep-fried counterpart. As for french fries and onion rings, order these only if you’re attempting to increase your intake of calories, salt, and fat.
Watch the salad bars: Don’t be fooled into thinking that a trip to the salad bar is automatically a safe, nutritious, and virtuous act! I’ve always been amazed by people who load up their plates with iceberg lettuce, bacon bits, eggs, and croutons, then smother their plate with ladles full of high-fat dressing – they’d be better off choosing a burger. Opt for veggies such as spinach leaves, carrots, and peppers, and limit the dressing – or better yet, carry your own low-calorie dressing and keep things nutritious and healthy!
Lisa Alexander is a freelance writer