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Eating well on the run

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We are living increasingly busy lives, trying to squeeze more out of every minute.

And as a result, it is becoming harder to find time to sit down and eat a meal. Like stop, and focus just on eating. Who even does that anymore?

Often we grab food on the run from whatever convenience store/take out joint/corner café is nearby. Whilst we can seek out good and nourishing real food, many options are heavily processed and high in added sugar.

So, here we offer a few tips on how to prepare yourself for eating well on the run, in order to remain sustained to get through the day!

But! Before we do, remember it is important to make time in our day to stop and focus on the food in front of us. Ask any dietician or nutritionist and they will advise that eating on the go isn’t desirable. But sometimes it’s just got to happen (and it is better than not eating at all only to gorge later on).

Reasons for taking the time to consume our food mindfully are justified, and include:

  • Eating while multitasking, like driving, texting or on the computer, can lead to mindless eating where we miss thirst or fullness cues, instead reaching for stimulants or sugar, or overeating.
  • Eating mindlessly, we may not chew food properly, nor activate adequate digestive enzymes secreted in the mouth and stomach, therefore impeding the function of the digestive tract.
  • Eating while rushing is eating in a state of stress. When the body perceives danger (and this could be anything like being chased by a tiger, or feeling overwhelmed by the flurry of emails and desktop notifications, or following a tiff with your boss or bestie) it activates the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) preparing us to flee or fight. This in turn curbs activity of the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) that is in charge of resting and digesting. So enzymatic secretions shut down, digestion decreases, and intestinal motility slows. Stress could also counter efforts to eat well.

So, in addition to the suggestions below of food and drink to consider when eating on the run, think about taking 5minutes to focus on what you are consuming and chewing mindfully, to get the most out of your delicious meal!

Foods on the go – being prepared

Find time on a Sunday evening, and create some meals and snacks in bulk, and have them portioned off in containers ready for the week! Think of foods such as:

  • Soups, curries, sauces, salsa and stews
  • Frittata
  • Roast veggies mixed with quinoa
  • Meatballs or lentil-balls
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Nut, coconut and dried fruit bar/truffles (there are many variations of this out there, including our Mocha Coconut Bites)
  • Nut and seed bread (we’ve a delicious recipe in our Office Luncheon e-book)

Have in your fridge or pantry food you can grab and go, like:

  • Mixed raw nuts
  • Fruit, including non-sweet fruit like avocado
  • 100% nut butter to have with sliced fruit, or with a spoon!
  • Olives
  • Tubs of plain yoghurt
  • Chopped assorted veg, like carrot, cucumber and capsicum
  • Whole food dips like hummus (to enjoy with your chopped veg!)
  • Tin of sustainably sourced tuna

An easy 3 minute build-your-own salad can include a handful of spinach leaves, several spoons of pre-cooked quinoa, a tin of tuna, a few olives and half an avocado, seasoned with a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt and pepper, assembled in a well-sealed container or jar, ready for your to pop in your bag and dash out the door.

We’ve great recipe ideas in our Office Luncheon e-book, designed to be created with ease, and if needed, easily transported and eaten on the move!

Foods on the go – store bought

If buying from a store, consider:

  • Avoiding heavily processed, high added sugar, and fake foods. If purchasing pre-made foods go for those with an ingredients list comprised of simple, real foods and seasoning (for example, a tin of tuna with olive oil will generally only have tuna, olive oil and salt. Simple).
  • Purchasing meals comprised of real food, like vegetable salad and free-range roast chicken. If it comes with dressing, and it isn’t simple, like lemon, olive and salt, perhaps ask for it on the side. Many dressings are often packed with added sugar, but remember, a little added sugar is okay!
  • Shopping mostly from the perimeter of the supermarket where the fresh produce is kept.

Finally, always carry with you a water bottle – preferably stainless steel or glass – and keep up the fluids, as when we lack the H2O, we tend to get fatigued and reach for the sugary snacks.

Essentially, focus on just eating real food that is tasty, yet can power us through the busy times! #JERF

By Angela Johnson (BHSc Nut. Med.)

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