• Michelle Callahan

3 Better On-the-Go Food Options to Keep You on Track

Have you ever been out running errands, driving the kids around, running from one obligation to another and all the sudden you are STARVING...like seriously ravenous? You need food...NOW, but then you start to feel overwhelmed because you want to stay on track with healthy eating. Oh boy...that fast food drive through is looking pretty tempting and easy right now. Then the struggle of wanting to stay on track, but also wanting an easy option takes over. Suddenly before you know it the internal battle is raging and you find yourself justifying the fast food option. You're starving after all, but then you feel bad about it after you finish eating and the hunger subsides. I can't tell you how many times this has happened to me in the past. I would do so well, feel so proud of my ability to stick to healthy eating only to have it ruined (in my mind) by a busy day where I would found myself grabbing fast food. Just to keep it real here, I'm a perfectionist. I often find myself caught up in either doing something completely perfectly, or completely imperfectly. I don't know if you can relate to that, but I bet you can relate to the slippery slope that comes with doing well with eating (or exercise or whatever it is) and then "slipping up". Next thing you know you are telling yourself screw it...I've already messed up so I'm just going to give myself an excuse to eat badly. And the downward spiral begins...

One of the things I hear from clients often is that they want to eat healthy, but it's so hard with their busy life. And trust me I get it. It's challenging to eat healthy with the craziness that is our lives these days. However, I'm here to tell you it is possible. It is possible to be busy, eat healthy even on-the-go, and avoid the downward spiral of slipping up. Please excuse me for being presumptuous, but I'm going to guess you are thinking right now, "Don't even try to tell me to prepare snacks/food at home to take with me. I don't have time for that!". Well guess what, I'm not going to tell you that (at least not in this blog post), but I am going to tell you how you can stay on track when you're busy and don't have something healthy on hand. It's all about making better choices on-the-go. So, in the spirit of making healthy eating on-the-go possible, here are my 3 favorite on-the-go options to keep you on track when life gets crazy:

1. Chipotle

What I love about Chipotle:

Chipotle is honestly one of my favorite on-the-go options. I love Chipotle for a few reasons. Knowing what I'm eating is extremely important to me. I love that I can go online to their website and literally see the ingredients in all of their menu options. By literally I mean they don't just list the ingredients, but they actually have pictures. I also love that they use real ingredients. No added flavors, colors or artificial preservatives. The only preservatives they use are lemon and lime juices. Their food is also non-genetically modified. We could get into a debate (and find research to support both sides) about whether GMOs are good or bad. It's up to you to decide how you feel about GMOs. For me, based on the research I've done, I prefer to not consume GMOs whenever possible. Chipotle doesn't have a drive-thru, but what they do have is the ability to order online with quick pick-up. You can even download a Chipotle app! All you do is go on the Chipotle website from your cell phone, place your order (which is a super easy process), then drive to restaurant and walk right up to the cash register where they hand you your order. I timed it one time. It took 2 minutes from the time I got out of my car until the time I was back in my car with my food. That's probably faster then going through a drive-thru.

Better Chipotle Option: Burrito Bowl

Choose a burrito bowl with rice, beans, fajita veggies, meat of choice (if you eat meat), salsa, guacamole and lettuce. If you like cheese & sour cream, go ahead and add it, but ask for a small amount of both rather then the mountain they typically pile on.

To keep this option a better choice, avoid adding queso, too much cheese, too much sour cream, tortillas and tortilla chips.

2. Panera

What I love about Panera:

Panera has gone above and beyond to attempt to serve you real food made with clean ingredients at their restaurants. In recent years they have ditched artificial preservatives, sweeteners, flavors and colors from artificial sources. You can even go online to their website and check out their "No No List" to see what they won't put in their food. As I said earlier, knowing what I'm eating is really important to me, so I love that Panera is trying to be transparent about their food...a refreshing concept. I love a company that seems to have a conscience. I also like that you can go online and choose a menu option and figure out the nutritional value if you add or remove certain ingredients from their menu options. It's also really easy to grab Panera because now all of their locations, in my area anyway, have a drive-thru.

Better Panera Options: Green Goddess Cobb Salad with Chicken, Black Bean Soup and Fruit Cup

To keep this option a better choice, choose an apple for your side and ask for the dressing on the side using the fork dip method - dip your fork in a little dressing before each bite rather than pouring dressing on the salad.

3. Getgo/Sheetz/Grocery Store

I guess I can't really say that I love much of anything about a convenience store. It's typically filled with a bunch of less then healthy options. However, there are a few options you can find in most convenience stores or with a quick run into a grocery store close by that can be better options. Here's a quick list of a few things to grab that can tide you over until you get home to a healthier meal:

  • Rx Bars or Larabars - avoid overly processed bars, even the ones that promote themselves as healthy like Clif and Luna bars.

  • Hard boiled eggs - pay attention to ingredients and try to grab eggs with no preservatives...just eggs.

  • Nuts - read the label and avoid nuts with too many added ingredients. Ideally raw nuts are best, but if you do choose roasted nuts pay attention to ingredients. There should really only be nuts, oil and salt.

  • Fresh fruit - if you are going to choose pre-cut fruit read the label and watch for preservatives.

  • Fresh veggies - same as fruit if choosing pre-cut veggies, check labels for preservatives.

  • Water - we often mistake thirst for hunger. Consider if you've had enough water, and if the answer is no, try water. It just may tide you over until you can get home and eat a healthy meal.

It's important to say that no on-the-go option will be as healthy as a meal you make at home, but expecting yourself to always be prepared for an on-the-go food emergency is unrealistic. Making better choices is the key here. While it is a good idea to keep a stash of snacks in the car, your purse, your gym bag and your work bag, there will be times you need to make a better choice while away from home. I hope the options I have given you will help you find something better to keep you on track when you find yourself considering the fast food drive-thru if hunger strikes on-the-go.


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