If you’re someone who is super busy during the day, spending a lot of time in the car and rarely getting the chance to sit down for a meal, you might find yourself having to eat in the car quite often... or what we call “dashboard dining.” For most of us, eating in the car means fast food, chocolate bars, bags of chips, and lots of sodas - unhealthy choices that are usually full of sugar, fat, and empty calories. Fortunately, you can manage to eat healthy even if you’re busy, on the run, and lacking time! Here's how:
Planning ahead is the most important step to ensure you don’t seek unhealthy options; this means preparing your meals the day before. If meals and snacks are prepared, pre-packaged, and handy, you will definitely take them along with you. Make sure that the items are easy to eat in a car. Keep all your food in containers that are easy to open, accessible, and spill proof. Sandwiches can be kept in baggies, and fresh cut fruits or vegetables in sealable bags or Tupperware containers. As for drinks, go for pop tops that are easily opened and closed, and control the amount of the liquid that comes out.
No matter how busy you are, try to preserve regular mealtimes. If you have your breakfast at 7am, then by 1pm you must have your lunch, wherever you are. Don’t let hunger surprise you! If you delay eating and allow yourself to get overly hungry, you will start to crave junk food and overindulge. Always stick to your normal eating schedule, and most importantly, do NOT skip meals even when you are on the road.
Buy a cooler
If your work involves taking long trips in the car, then the best investment you can make, by far, is buying a cooler. You can pack your lunch with you - no fuss, no muss! This not only saves calories off your belly, but it also saves you tons of money. The cooler can keep both food and drinks cool, allowing you to have sandwiches, salads, luncheon meats, dairy products, and other perishable foods. Don’t forget to pack a bottle of water! Stopping at the store for water will encourage temptation to buy unnecessary snacks.
Pack healthy snacks
Some snacks can be kept at room temperature and are practical and healthy options to eat in the car. These include whole wheat crackers or rice cakes, wholegrain cereals or cereal bars, low fat protein bars, fresh fruits like apples, bananas, and grapes, cut vegetables like cucumber and carrots, raw vegetables like cherry tomatoes, baby corn, baby carrots, and raw nuts like almonds, cashews, and walnuts. These finger foods can provide you with energy and nutrients. Keep an assortment of food items in the cooler such as sandwiches made with brown bread and whole wheat bagels with chicken, turkey, and low fat cheese, as well as low-fat dairy products such as low fat milkshakes, yogurt, or Ayran. Always keep some mint flavored chewing gum in the car, and whether you have kids or not, don’t forget the baby wipes!