Making decent food choices while you’re out on the run is not the easiest task for some. Honestly, it can easily cause some serious stress when you’re wanting to try your very best to stick to your new lifestyle.
The grocery store: Always numero uno on my list. Cheaper than most other options, and endless possibilities! Just because you’re usually there all day doesn’t mean you can’t stop there when you’re on the run. You just have to know where to go! For healthy choices, check out the salad bar or the prewashed produce first. Nature is your best buddy, just remember germs are not. If you have time to rinse and whatnot, pick up any fruit and veggie you wish. My favorite things are the mini sweet peppers or prewashed green beans.
Also, check out the deli! Grilled and rotisserie chicken and hard boiled eggs are at the top of my list for protein sources. Greek yogurt (Kroger brand is my fave, actually) is also great protein over in the dairy section. Feeling some brain drain? You might need to stop in the baking supplies aisle for some walnuts (healthy fat) on the cheap, or roll through the cereal aisle for some instant oats (ha ha get it: rolled oats… slow digesting carbs).
Indulging after a lift? This might gross you out, but my favorite rare treat after a strenuous leg day is small carton of pasteurized egg whites from the dairy section and a glazed doughnut from the bakery. Protein (50g per carton) and a small amount of quick carbs (30-something g in one plain glazed doughnut) right after squats and hip thrusts has been pretty friendly to my lower body lately. Not your thing? You can get a protein shake where you find the powdered Gatorade, and Meijer sells Quest Bars now (You’re welcome, fellow iron junkies. I’ll take my dividends asap, Meijer).
Convenience store: Me and Speedway are BFFs. Coffee is a natural fat burner and helps calm cravings for junk. Keep in mind though, it’s coffee. Don’t go overboard and maybe avoid it if you have heart or blood pressure issues. There’s fresh fruit there, but have you noticed how waxy it is? Pass… I might go for a prepackaged salad, a protein shake and raw almonds instead. Many of them also have hard boiled eggs (check the expiration date on the package, just sayin’). I also like Jerky… try to spring for the one with the least ingredients listed on the back and drink plenty of water to balance all the salt.
Sit in restaurants: Panera and Piada have the greatest salads in the world. I’m always ordering salmon salad at Piada with Basil Pesto, Lemon or Balsamic dressing. I know you want the bread and pasta, and that’s good in moderation, but not every time you go there. I just devoured the Mediterranean Chicken and Quinoa Salad at Panera with an apple right before writing this article.
Sing it with me… I’M IN LOVE WITH CHIPOLTE! IT’S HEALTHY ON THE LOW LOW! Seriously, You can make that burrito bowl fit your goals like no other if you know how to work it. I double the chicken to meet my protein intake. Vegetarian? They’ve got tofu! Trying to curb your carbs? Ask for the brown rice, one light scoop. It sure beats two heaps of white rice unless you’re trying to indulge or do some serious post workout growth. Black beans (another light scoop) add fiber and protein. Peppers and onions with the smoked hot sauce… AND it’s non-GMO (suck it Monsanto) so I feel comfortable eating their corn salsa?! WHAAAAT?! When I get guacamole I really have no need for sour cream and cheese and I feel good about giving myself a healthy fat with lots of nutrients. Did I just really write a love letter to Chipolte?
I’m sorry, Fusian. The love of my restaurant life. You may not like raw fish sushi like I do, but have you tried the chicken or steak rolls? Plenty of fresh veggies; they give as many as you want. They’ll give light brown or white rice if you just ask. They’ll even do no rice if you want it that way. Keep it healthy by chilling on the cream cheese (sub in avocado, the green superfood in the guac!), mayo and panko crumbles at the end. Add some serious taste by asking for the carrot ginger dressing on top.
Drive Thru: OK so you might be the passenger in a car of crazy that refuses to park at all. What can you do? McDonald’s breakfast isn’t all bad; try the oatmeal. It’s good. I would ask for mine completely plain (you may have to reiterate by saying “just the oats and the water in the cup, please”) and get the add ins on the side. This way I can control how much sugar (dried fruit!) goes into my breakfast. They offer egg whites on the side if you want, and the egg McMuffin is actually a pretty decent choice to make at around 300 calories! Wendy’s always has had pretty good salad choices. You might want to ask for some extra grilled chicken to fill you up. At KFC I might choose grilled breast and a side of green beans if I were trying to make the (healthy) best of a situation. Have a need for plain old junk? Sometimes people really just want nuggets or a burger. A good compromise could be to enjoy a kids size just to get a taste, or to trade in your burger bun for the french fries to keep your meal a little closer to your goals.
Try to keep in mind that one imperfect day of eating out is not going to ruin all of your efforts! Especially when you’re mindful, trying your best to eat for health first. Remember: you’re already doing the work to make the right choices. You kill your workouts, and usually you’re prepared for your days away from home by making food in your own kitchen. You’re also enjoying the occasional junk food you want at these spots every once in a while, because that’s very important, too! Taking the steps that you are taking will make it easier to feel holistically healthy.