Nutrition expert Zoe Nicholson explains how eating on the run can still be healthy provided you plan ahead and make the right food choices.
Most of us have had a day where suddenly it’s 3pm and we’re starving! Not being in a position to buy lunch, you just make do with what’s at hand; service station food, something from the vending machine, or sweet biscuits from the work kitchen.
The occasional day like this is unlikely to be a problem. If it becomes a habit, chances are it’s going to impact your health.
Four reasons skipping meals can be problematic
- You miss out on important nutrients including carbohydrate, protein, vitamins and minerals to fuel your brain and body throughout the day.
- Skipping meals leads to a drop in blood sugar; you may feel lightheaded or start finding it difficult to concentrate. This can result in sugar cravings.
- You get over-hungry and over-eat at your next meal.
- Constant sugar cravings and over-eating means your weight starts creeping up.
Top tips for eating on the run:
- Plan ahead. The most failsafe method is to prepare lunch in bulk. Soups, stews, casseroles and salads work well.
- Keep healthy non-perishable food at work (e.g. nuts, muesli bars, tinned foods). A simple meal of tinned tuna in olive oil and four bean mix is nutritious and filling.
- Know where you can access healthy food quickly. Supermarkets sell the above foods, service stations have sandwiches, and sushi is available in many stores.
- Healthy planned snacks can be eaten on the run and will keep you fuelled throughout the day. For example 30g nuts, a muesli bar, and a serve of fruit provides the energy and nutrition found in a meal.
- For restaurant or cafe food, choose meals with at least three different veggies. Ideally half the meal should be veg. Avoid heavy carb based dishes like pastas, risottos and pizza.