When it comes to healthy eating, there’s on word that dictates the whole battle. (And no, it’s not cheesecake). It’s control. Maintaining control over your choices, your environment and your temptations is the key. The more you control — through shopping, keeping your hunger in check and the time of day that you eat — the better your chances of changing unhealthy eating habits to healthy ones.
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As we know, control isn’t the easiest thing to, well, control, says wellness expert Michael Roizen, MD.
“Life happens, and sometimes your schedule looks like an air-traffic log — everything coming from all directions while you’re just working to take off and land every item on your to-do list,” he says. “Sometimes, that means your commitment to eating healthy gets sacrificed.”
A common scenario for those who are always on the go: You’re out and about with one appointment after another, and the only choice you have when your stomach is growling like a mama tiger is to run to the gas station and grab something on the fly. We get it. (Our lives are so busy that you cannot always have salmon burgers packed in your pockets!)
You know exactly what we’re talking about, right? Walk into a convenience store and just about every choice looks like it’s going to make a beeline from the shelves to your thighs. Pack-aged pastries, gnarly hot dogs, soda cups the size of gas tankers.
So what to do? Dr. Roizen says you need to have a strategy. When you’re in a pinch — and feel your only option is a pit-stop purchase — here are his top five recommended picks:
- Bag of nuts. Nuts have protein and healthy fat. And thank goodness, it’s becoming more and more common to see packages of unsalted nuts in gas stations. Just avoid the sugar or honey-coated ones, Dr. Roizen says.
- Bottle of water. “Hydration is important, and a bottle of water is the best option among all the other high-calorie and high-sugar options in the gas station fridge,” he says. Or you can grab a cup of joe or tea (skip the sugar and milk).
- Fruit pack. No, not the gummy kind. Many gas stations will have apples or bananas to purchase, and sometimes prepacked apple slices or berries.
- Cup of Greek yogurt. If you can find it in the store, there’s a good amount of protein here. Go for no-sugar-added versions, Dr. Roizen says, if they’re available.
- Hummus. Often sold in small packages with pretzels for dipping, this snack is loaded with protein and healthy fat.
One final note: Be way of items that “sound” healthy.
“Granola bars and trail mix can appear healthy, but they’re often loaded with sugar,” Dr. Roizen says.
And that stick of beef jerky that looks so easy to eat with its high protein? Stay away, as processed meats are loaded with ingredients that, in my opinion, cancel out the positive power of protein.
“Finally, if that soda fountain looks tempting, fill up one of those jugs with ice, then buy a bottle or two of sparkling water,” Dr. Roizen suggests. “Fill ‘er up and get on your way.”
This article was adapted from the best-selling book “What to Eat When” by Michael F. Roizen, MD, and Micheal Crupain, MD, MPH with Ted Spiker (©2018 National Geographic Books)