What you eat, however, is your choice.
We often choose fast food — high-fat, high calorie foods — when on the go, but we don’t have to.
“We have to embrace eating out in this day and age,” Lorna O’Connell, executive director of Indiana Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Association, said. “I try to go for — and I had to do this with my kids — for whatever the lower calorie options on the menu are.”
Try Arby’s or Wendy’s instead of McDonald’s, she said. If you must go to McDonald’s, go wild and have breakfast for dinner.
“Now that they’re serving breakfast all day, you can get their breakfast burrito and their yogurt parfait,” O’Connell said. “And they’re cheap. They’re like $1. They’re very filling and healthy.”
The variety of grilled options at Wendy’s assuages Elsa Lockett’s conscious when she stops for fast food. If McDonald’s is the only restaurant around, Lockett, 45, Indianapolis, sometimes orders from the children’s menu.
“I try to go for, instead of the fried chicken, the grilled chicken, a chicken salad,” Lockett said. “Grilled is always going to be better than fried, especially if you’re trying to be health conscious.”
Instead of eating an entire sandwich, Indianapolis resident Iris Lock, 50, eliminates the top bun to cut down on carbohydrates.
“If I have to get fries, I eat some of them, not all of them, which is hard to do,” Lock said.
While challenging, it’s possible for busy families to avoid fast food. However, it takes planning. O’Connell suggests buying, cutting and storing plenty of carrots, cucumbers, grape tomatoes and celery in baggies for snacking on the run. Small containers of yogurt or cottage cheese and string cheese are other easy-to-grab snacks.
Keep a variety of nuts in the pantry — walnuts, almonds and pecans — but watch your portion since nuts are high in fat. Choose pretzels over chips, and try breakfast granola bars instead of Pop-Tarts.
“Good, old peanut butter, almond butter, it’s great on celery,” O’Connell said.
Oh, don’t forget about your drink! Sure, that soda pop or sweet tea tastes great, but it’s not less filling. Sugary beverages add hundreds more calories to your meal so ask for water.
Drinking more water also keeps you hydrated and could help you eat less.
“Sometimes people think they’re hungry, they’re really dehydrated,” O’Connell said.
Contact editor Oseye Boyd at 317-762-7850.