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A home-cooked meal will always be healthier than a takeout, but what do you do when you find yourself on the road and needing a quick fix?

While it goes without saying that takeaway foods shouldn’t become a staple in your diet, it is possible to make healthier choices, and many fast food companies are responding to the demand from increasingly health-conscious consumers by adding whole grain, low fat and low sodium items to their menus.

Dietician Anne London points out that a few simple strategies like cutting down on condiments and sauces, avoiding deep fried foods and choosing drinks with no added sugar can make a big difference when eating out.

“When offered a choice of size, always opt for the smaller portion,” she advises. “Try to select dishes that have more vegetables and leaner meats. Vegetables are nutritious and low in calories, and leaner meats such as chicken, fish and turkey tend to contain fewer calories than red meats.”

She also suggests looking for a grocery store or deli that has a prepared food section like a soup or salad bar, which is often healthier than fast food, but still quick and economical.

So the next time you find yourself strapped for time and needing a quick fix, consider the following options to get a real energy boost rather than a short-lived sugar high.

1. Wraps

Wraps can make nutritious snacks or meals – it’s all about choosing your ingredients wisely. Look for wraps that contain plenty of fresh produce like tomatoes, onions and avocado, and choose lean grilled meats like chicken or turkey.

Also opt for condiments and sauces that aren’t too rich, like sesame ginger or cilantro salsa, as sour cream or mayo-based sauces can quickly bring up the calorie count.

2. Tortilla chips with salsa and guacamole

While tortilla chips aren’t as nutritious as some things, they can pack a healthy punch when paired fresh salsa and guacamole. Avocados contain important vitamins and nutrients like vitamin B6 and folic acid which are essential for heart health and tomatoes are rich in antioxidants.

Blue corn tortilla chips are particularly nutritious, and research shows that they contain less starch and 20% more protein, making them a great energy boosting snack.

3. Yoghurt and fruit

If you have a craving for something sweet, yoghurt and fruit can be a winning combo. Yoghurt contains probiotics which promote digestion, and fruit takes care of your sweet tooth while still supplying you with vitamins and nutrients.

Yoghurt and fruit are easy to find at most fast food joints, but try to avoid those have been pre-sweetened or stick to the ones that contain natural sweeteners like honey.

4. Salads

Even a salad can be unhealthy if it’s loaded with sodium and slathered in fattening dressings like thousand island or blue cheese.

Make sure your salads consist primarily of fresh vegetables (rather than croutons, processed meats or batter fried fish or chicken), choose leaner proteins like feta or tuna, and stick with a simple vinaigrette or olive oil dressing.

5. Smoothies

Smoothies make the perfect grab and go snack, and as long as they don’t contain added sugar they can be very healthy too. A good smoothy should contain fibre, protein and fruit in order to keep you feeling satisfied until your next meal.

Look for smoothies that boast nourishing ingredients like wholegrain cereals, berries, bananas, pineapples, almonds, soy, quinoa, cucumbers, carrots, spinach, ginger and cinnamon.

6. Sushi

Thanks to ingredients like seaweed, steamed rice and salmon or tuna which contain plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, sushi is usually fairly healthy no matter how you eat it. But there are still certain dishes and sides that are worse than others.

For example, spider rolls contain mayonnaise, and although condiments like wasabi and pickled ginger can be quite healthy, it’s best to skip the soy sauce as even just one tablespoon can contain up to 1000 milligrams of sodium.

7. Dumplings or spring rolls

Dumplings and spring rolls aren’t generally very healthy because they tend to be deep fried. But if you can find dumplings or spring rolls that have been steamed instead, these savoury treats can actually be nutritious thanks to the lean meats and vegetables they contain.

8. Soup

A cup of soup can make an excellent winter snack, but if you’re looking for a pick-me-up on a cold day, keep in mind that the type of soup you choose does matter. Hearty soups like minestrone or roast tomato and basil will be far healthier than creamy ones like clam chowder.

9. Baked stuffed potatoes

Baked potatoes can be found almost anywhere from fast food franchises to fine dining menus. So instead of splurging on a portion of greasy chips, try a baked potato stuffed with goodness like mushrooms and French onions or broccoli and parmesan.

Potatoes can also help you feel fuller for longer, so you’ll keep your energy levels high while also reducing the number of snacks you eat throughout the day.

10. Sandwiches

Opt for whole grain bread whenever possible, and add fresh vegetables like lettuce, tomato or cucumber. Also try to choose leaner toppings like roast beef, grilled chicken or tuna, and swap the mayonnaise for mustard, pesto or hummus.

What do you eat when you’re out and about or on the road? SHARE with us in the comments below. 

Main image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

  • These are all brilliant and healthy suggestions

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  • Good tips which we already do. We also like to bring boiled eggs, cucumbers, trays of raw mushroom, punnets of Roma tomato, garlic cloves and not to forget nuts, roasted chickpeas and flava beans.

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  • As I’m about to go on a road trip, I read the article very carefully – alas, I’m already doing all these things. Must admit we often buy some hot chips to go with our sandwich or wrap that I’ve brought from home.

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  • all sounds good in theory but sometimes I just wanna eat some chocolate!

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  • Depends on how I feel and what I actually feel like eating at the time. Sometimes it maybe a salad other times it maybe a BigMc.

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  • I love all of these and admit, I do enjoy many of them.

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  • My daughter loves sushi, we also love tortillas chips and smoothies.

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  • Other than sushi, my road snacks never seem to be healthy whoops!

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  • I am pleased to see that the driver isn’t trying to eat and drive at the same time.
    That probably causes as many accidents as smoking and driving did.
    When we go away on holidays we always pack plenty of sandwiches for the 1st day. If we use mayonnaise in them we don’t use butter or margarine at all. We mostly have homemade snacks which last 2 or 3 days – sometimes longer. With homemade cake and biscuits you can easily reduce the quantity of sugar listed in the recipe and you know what is in them. Always carry plenty of water – more than you anticipate needing. We also carry a large plastic container of water that can be drunk….or if you have car overheating problems you can use it in your cooling system to get to where you can get help + more provisions.
    We make sure we get one good healthy meal a day while travelling. One good tip. Some cafes attached to service stations have healthy reasonably cheap meals. If you see trucks parked there it is a good sign. They will not stop where the food isn’t good quality and healthy food available. If one gets declining quality of food, word travels fast amongst the drivers and they all go elsewhere. Many of those serve large meals. Some also have free d.i.y. tea and coffee. Some take a little longer for the food to arrive but they cook the food from scratch, not partly or already cooked and re-heated. I have observed that personally on more than one occasion.

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  • There are some great ideas here and I’m pleased to say that I generally I stick to it although I must say that I can go for wedges on occasion as can’t always be healthy.

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  • Great article! Finding healthy foods while on the go has always been a struggle, but these are good ideas and easily done. Here’s to healthy choices whether home or away! Thanks for sharing!

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  • salad is the easiest thing to chuck together and it can be as simple or as fancy as you wish

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  • Great article,l also love sushi and wraps on the go instead of fast food junk!

    Reply

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