Tips for Healthy Eating 'On the Run'

"Let thy food be thy medicine," said Hippocrates (a long, long time ago), but the sentiment still rings true. National Nutrition Month®, celebrated in March, stresses the importance of a balanced diet and exercise. Summit Medical Group wants to help you learn about making informed food choices and developing healthful eating and physical activity habits. In today's busy, multi-tasking world, our eating habits often get formed around competing priorities. Unfortunately, our limited 'on-the-go' options aren't always the healthiest.

Many of us eat out a lot - we are always looking for fast, easy, and good tasting foods to fit our busy lifestyles. Whether it's a drive-thru lunch, a food court meal at the mall, something from the office cafeteria, or even a nice meal at a sit-down restaurant, there are still smart choices to be made. Here are 15 easy tips to help you eat healthier when eating 'on the go.'

  1. Think ahead and plan where you will eat. Consider what meal options are available. Look for places with a wide range of menu items.
  2. Take time to look over the menu and make careful selections. Some restaurant menus may have a special section for "healthier" choices.
  3. Review and compare nutrition information if it's available.
  4. Think about your food choices for the entire day. If you're planning a special restaurant meal in the evening, have a light breakfast and lunch.
  5. Hold the bread or chips until your meal is served. Hunger may drive you to fill up on these foods before your meal arrives.
  6. Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Alcohol tends to increase your appetite and provides calories without any nutrients.
  7. Begin with soup or salad as a way to include more vegetables at mealtime. Or, you can choose a salad with grilled chicken or seafood as your main course.
  8. Avoid all-you-can-eat specials, buffets and unlimited salad bars. These types of choices make it difficult to follow recommended serving sizes.
  9. Load up your pizza with vegetable toppings. If you add meat, make it lean ham, Canadian bacon, chicken or shrimp.
  10. At the sandwich shop, choose lean beef, ham, turkey or chicken. If possible, ask for your sandwich to be made on whole grain bread or in a soft tortilla wrap.
  11. In place of fries or chips, choose a side salad, fruit or baked potato.
  12. Try a smoothie made with 100% juice, fruit and low-fat yogurt for a light meal or snack.
  13. Can't leave the office? Keep single-serve packages of whole grain crackers, fruit, peanut butter, soup, or tuna around for a quick desktop lunch.
  14. Food items on your desk, like nuts or candy bowls, can lead to mindless eating. Keep snacks in your desk to avoid the temptation to eat when you're not hungry.
  15. Always eating on the go? Tuck portable snacks in your purse, tote, briefcase or backpack for an on-the-run meal. Items could include peanut butter and crackers, granola bars, fresh fruit, or trail mix.

It's always a good idea to speak to your doctor when making dietary changes or healthy eating choices. For additional food and nutrition information, you can also visit