by Jamie Leff
I am loving Michael Pollan’s book, Food Rules – an Eater’s Manual! If you have not read it, I cannot recommend it enough. He is a man after my own heart – searching for ways to make nutrition simple. He tells it like it is, and weeds through all of the bologna.
In case you haven’t heard of the Happy Meal Experiment, I have done it. I have a Happy Meal that I bought back in October 2009. That means it is coming up on it’s 4th birthday! The thing looks just like this picture (which happens to be of a fresh one). Nothing has grown on it, the meat did not rot, the bread did not mold… there is something really wrong with that! Your food should not out-live you! In fact, I had to place it in a box because the bag it came in deteriorated thanks to the oil.
Why do I bring this to your attention? Because even well meaning moms can sometimes be a slave to fast food, drive-thrus and things in little packages that have a shelf life older than some of their children.
School is back in session, which for many of you means packing lunches quickly to get out the door on time, grabbing a quick lunch for yourself in the middle of the day in between mommy duties, or driving through the closest place you can find between school and soccer practice. More often than not, health takes a back seat to convenience. Do not let yourself get caught in the trap!
Here are some tips to help you get quick and easy meals, without having to sacrifice your health:
Burger Places: Most places now offer salads, grilled chicken sandwiches and turkey burgers. If you absolutely must get a burger, get a regular hamburger. Instead of french fries, opt for a side salad, yogurt or fruit.
Sandwich shops: Avoid mayo or items made with mayo such as tuna or chicken salad. Order your sandwich on wheat bread vs. white bread and ask for extra vegetables. Again, most places now offer fruit or yogurt in their value meals instead of chips.
Mexican Food: Avoid items that are fried or contain nacho cheese sauce, sour cream or the word “Supreme” in the title. Ask them to hold the cheese and add extra salsa.
At any restaurant, always order water or unsweetened Ice Tea vs. soda.
Starbucks: Instead of grabbing a scone or bagel, which can have around 700 calories, opt for the “protein plate,” which has a hardboiled egg, a whole wheat roll with Almond Butter, some grapes, and a few pieces of white cheddar cheese. Another option would be the oatmeal or the egg, spinach and feta wrap. Pass on the blended frozen drinks or flavored lattes and get a coffee with creamer instead. Bring your own Stevia packets from home if you need a little sweetness.
Another option is to keep snacks in your car or pack a cooler the night before with things you can grab in a hurry. This is an easy way to make sure you are getting adequate nutrition from whole foods throughout the day, without having to worry about where your next meal is coming from.
These snack ideas are great for kids too!
Fruit: I’ve said this before… wash fruit the minute you unpack it from the grocery bag. The faster you can grab it in the morning, the more likely you will do it. Another option is fruit cups with fruit that is packed in water vs. syrup.
A final option … organic baby food! Hear me out… have you seen those pouches where your kids can just squeeze and suck the fruit right out? For the ones I’m talking about, if you look at the ingredients, it should just say organic fruit and vegetables. True story, I was waiting in line at Babies R Us to purchase a baby gift for a friend. I was starving and happened to look over and they had about 10 different flavors of this organic baby food in those easy squeeze pouches! I picked up the
sweet potato pumpkin and sure enough, the only ingredients were organic sweet potato and organic pumpkin.
Let me tell you, it was delicious and totally held me over until I got home!
Nuts: You can now get pre-portioned packs of nuts, or just buy snack baggies and make them yourself. Nuts are a great thing to keep in your car or purse for those emergency
situations when hunger strikes and the only thing for miles is a Taco Bell.
String cheese and Apple
Cut up Vegetables: Try celery with peanut butter or raw sugar snap peas
Peanut Butter and Jelly or Turkey sandwich: Or whatever sandwich you decided to put in your child’s lunch that day. When you are packing their lunches, make an extra one for yourself!
All it takes is a little prep work and a conscious thought to make healthier choices when you are out and about, but it is possible to get fresh and healthy foods on the go. Don’t get stuck eating something that goes against nature!