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  • Writer's pictureErica

Busy Life? The Secret to Staying Healthy On-the-Go.

Updated: Mar 23, 2020

We are busy people with errands to run, obligations to meet, and in general, things to do all the time. While we would like to sit down at the kitchen table everyday and share a meal with the family, the reality is that we do not always that kind of time. So how is one to manage eating on the go? There are several solutions to healthy eating while out and about. In order for these to work, you will need to start practicing. With continuous use, these methods become routine allowing you to do them more efficiently. Once you’re efficient, they become part of your norm. Small steps become a giant leap in making healthy a part of who you are instead of what you do. Let’s start with the list. 

1. Keep healthy options ready to grab and go. Store them conveniently in the pantry. Also, gather

some easy to store snacks to keep in the car. These include items like dried fruit, nuts, granola bars, and trail mix. When it comes to granola, granola bars, and trail mixes, it’s best to make your own. However, for those of us who lack the time, know-how, or creativity, you have to read labels. These are notorious for having added sugars. Also watch the fat content. Nuts are a healthy source of fat; however, they can carry a large amount of fat. With that, it’s important to watch serving sizes, as a gram of fat packs 9 Calories. I’ve found that a serving size of nuts is usually around 1/4 cup. It’s really easy to make a quick trail mix to keep in the pantry, just toss some dried fruit and nuts in a container, done! As for granola bars, we found one at Costco that we like. It’s Autumn’s Gold Grain Free Granola Bars, Cinnamon Almond flavor. I was not seeking out grain-free, in particular. However, our oldest daughter is

Inside our refrigerator today!

gluten-free so it worked out. With the nuts and coconut, it’s high in saturated fat (>20% daily value). So be cognizant of that when having one for a snack. Keep the rest of your saturated fat content on the lower end the rest of the day. Invest in some easy-access containers for the pantry and refrigerator. Make grabbing healthy snacks as easy as possible by making them more accessible. I use OXO Good Grips Airtight Food Storage POP Containers in the pantry. I use these containers for storing nuts and raisins in the pantry. This storage solution makes it very easy to walk into the pantry, pop the top, pour handful, and enjoy. I admit I eat a lot more raisins and nuts with them more accessible. In the fridge, I have open plastic containers that make grabbing healthy snacks so simple. Fruit is a go-to snack for my family because it is accessible. I found that when I kept them in the drawers, no one asked for them. With this simple solution, that changed.

2. Pack snacks. Options for snacks include again dried fruit and nuts. However, you could also pack items like peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat bread. Again, you’ll need to read labels. We use Smuckers Natural Peanut Butter as it only contains two ingredients, peanuts and salt. This is the type of simplicity you’ll want to see on ingredients labels. They also have organic and chunky varieties. Cutting up fresh fruit and veggies are also great refreshing snacks. We like to tuck these in the cooler on days we have soccer or baseball games. Popcorn is another great choice. It’s a whole grain! The best choice is to pop your own; however, some healthy pre-popped varieties are on the market as well. We use Skinny Pop Organic Sea Salt. This is the healthier switch we made from microwave popcorn, which is not so healthy. The kids love it! Another refreshing portable snack is a smoothie. Smoothies require more prep before the leaving the house, but it’s only around 10-15 with making and bottling. When on the go, keep smoothie making simple with using only ingredients that do not require any prep like cutting. I use frozen fruit, spinach, chia seeds, and flax seeds. Toss it in with some 100% juice with or without water. It’s a great cool and refreshing treat on a hot day best enjoyed from an insulated cup with a large bore straw. Packing snacks requires around 30 minutes +/- 10 minutes depending on what you’re packing, how much prior prep you’ve done, and for how many people you’re packing. It can as fast as 5-10 minutes with prior prep. Keep at it so that you become more efficient at it. 

3. Stop at the grocery store instead of the drive through. If you’re already out and do not have snacks, which happens some times in a rush, on an unexpected run, or a run that takes longer than predicted, stop in the nearest grocery store instead of the nearest fast food restaurant. You can grab easy to eat snacks like bananas or oranges to eat on the go. Applesauce pouches are another quick and easy grab. My favorite is Kirkland Organic Applesauce pouches from Costco because they use organic apples. Apples are one of produce that have higher pesticide residue, so I get organic when possible. Another snack option from the grocery is peanut butter and jelly supplies and making sandwiches in the car. I done that multiple times in the car, as well as at the soccer field and baseball diamond. It requires a little more effort than the drive through, but it’s easy and much healthier. Your health is so worth it. It will become a natural train of thought. I recall a time when my mom and I were out with the 3 youngest kids. My oldest daughter stated that she was hungry, and quickly without even giving it a second thought, my mom suggests heading to the Fresh Thyme grocery store, across the street. I was shocked, surprised, and so happy that was her immediate thought. It was becoming her norm. 

4. Read fast food nutrition facts. If you find yourself in a predicament where you’re forced to hit the drive through, say the 2 year old is asleep in the backseat and there’s no way you’re waking that kid up mid-nap, it’s not the end of world. Been there! It’s okay if you feel you have to do it. I would advise doing yourself a favor and pulling over in the parking lot to glance at the nutrition facts. Brace yourself because it’s likely going to be eye-opening. Items are usually very high in sodium and fat, it's important to watch your daily intake of the these items. The percent daily value is the percentage of the daily maximum that a particular nutrient is in a food, and it is based on a 2000 Calorie diet. A nutrient is considered high if it's greater than 20% daily value and low if it's less than 5%. These percentages usually aren’t listed on the nutrient facts available on the fast food restaurant’s website menu. So below I have listed the nutrients on which to focus when skimming through the nutrition facts. They are the daily maximum in total grams of nutrients (based on a 2000 Calorie diet) that we need to limit. There are only a few numbers to remember, and it’ll help you make the best choice for your situation. The more you use these numbers, the quicker you’ll be able to make decisions.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Watch your intake of calories as well. Get water to drink for sure. Also do not eat the entire meal. Try eating just enough to hold you over until your next healthy meal. Honestly, the younger your kids are when you stop making drive through runs, the easier it is for you in the long run. Our 2 year old may not even remember what a chicken nugget is because he doesn’t ask for them. Our 4 year old used to ask if we could go to her favorite fast food spot all the time after we stopped going, but now she seldom asks my husband (was more so his type of stop than mine). I can’t even recall the last time she asked me. Our 9 year old already knows that it’s not even an option for her (so not for any of us) because of her Crohn’s disease. It’s our 12 year old who gives us the most grief about not eating fast food anymore. I mean major grief, but he’s starting to come around. Hopefully, one day he will get it. 

5. Read restaurant nutrition facts. When you eat at sit-down restaurant, again read the nutrition facts and make the best choices you can. Watch for foods high in sodium, saturated fat, cholesterol, and added sugar. For example, there is a pizza place near us where I get a veggie pizza on a wheat crust. The crust is not entirely whole wheat flour, but it’s the best option they have. It’s loaded with veggies. I also request no cheese. I was a little apprehensive the first time I ordered it that way because cheese tastes so good. However, I’m so glad I went for it because it is delicious without cheese! Eating at a restaurant really involves making choices like that and asking questions. You should ask, for example, if your vegetables will be cooked in butter, so that you can kindly request that they not be. This also another great water opportunity. There’s no calories. If you need a little flavor in your water, you could ask for lemon or you also add a splash for 100% juice to it. 

All of these practices just take some time to become your normal. You get more ideas as you become more comfortable. It’ll be routine. Start giving it a try. Remember to just make sustainable changes at a time. If making all these changes for you at once will be overwhelming, please do not make all of them at once. Try one at a time or whatever with which you are comfortable. The key is to make steps in the right direction that will not send you running in the other direction. Move at your pace, a pace you can sustain. The goal is not to try a trend but to change your lifestyle. Make healthy a part of who you are. 

Always striving to help,


For more info about reading labels and eating well on the go, check out and read our How-To Guides.

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