I’m currently exploring beautiful North Carolina on my birthday week which will end in a conference with some of my mentors and peers in alternative health, wellness, and fitness. Until then however, it is me, a rental car, and winding back country roads. I was lucky enough to land in Asheville, which sports a Whole Foods. Armed with provisions, I know I have at least two days of healthy eating. On more than one occasion, though – usually at home, in traffic and ill-prepared – I find myself hungry and without a snack on hand. What to do in a pinch? Below are my top options for healthy choices on the fly:
1. Hit up the neighborhood grocery store: This is the number one place to get a wide variety of healthy options, and a must stop on any road trip. If possible, choose a natural foods store like Whole Foods or a local co-operative â€“ these grocers are more mindful of quality ingredients and have a wider supply of fresh options. But even in rural areas, grocery stores can be a lifesaver. Most have a section with fresh deli (rotisserie chicken! Grilled fish!) and fresh produce and fruits. Greek Yogurt or hard-boiled eggs are also good sources of protein â€“ look for pre-cooked hard-boiled eggs near the deli and/or salad bar. Sushi, esp sashimi and nigiri and fresh salad rolls offer a fresh and flavorful alternative to the salad bar and are commonly found in urban grocers. Be wary of the mayo and tempura rolls, and balance out a rice-filled roll with sashimi to boost protein and satiety.
2. Chipotle: the burrito bowl is a great way to get fresh Mexican and keep it veggie-rich! Omit the rice, ask for extra veggies, and slather it in salsa and avocado you wonâ€™t miss the tortilla! If they do not have a burrito bowl, ask for a tostada minus the tortilla and with the same additions. Grilled chicken or fish will keep the fat content lower than beef. Omit the cheese and sour cream as well.
3. Subway: Available on nearly every lone stretch of highway across these United States, Subway offers a vegetable-rich option just about anywhere. A spinach salad with chicken, all the veggies, vinegar and lemon as dressing offers the most nutrient rich and healthiest option. Alternatively, choose one of the foot-longs with whole wheat bread and nix the mayo and creamy dressings. Choose vinegar and mustard instead. If you like it spicy, add peppocinis, jalepenos, brown AND regular mustard with the vinegar and enjoy a mild metabolic boost from this meal (youâ€™ll be sweating!)
4. In & Out (or another burger joint): Get a hamburger loaded with mustard, ketchup, onion and extra veggies. Nix the bun totally or only eat half if you must. Avoid any special sauces, and add an extra patty to boost protein and satisfaction.
If you must — FAST FOOD RESTAURANT OPTIONS:
Iâ€™m generally not a fan of fast food restaurants. The quality of all ingredients is on the low end. However, skipping meals is a set-up for rebound eating later on in the evening. In some circumstances, all you have are golden arches. Here are some possibilities in such cases:
McDonalds Southwest Salad With Grilled Chicken (with cilantro lime glaze and a Southwest vegetable/bean blend)
Arby’s Grilled Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich (without mayo, eat only half of the bun)
In-n-out Hamburger (order with EXTRA patty, onion, mustard, and catsup instead of spread, eat only half the bun)
Grilled Chicken Salads â€“ nix the cheese and use as little dressing as possible â€“ often loads of sugar and fat. Purists can go for straight up vinegar and lemon juice; mustard can add a nice zing as well.