Overcoming On-the-Go Eating Hurdles

Lifestyle challenges of eating on the run. With all the rushing around and juggling of family, work and social commitments, lifestyle challenges can get in the way of good nutrition. Such challenges include daily stresses and lack of time with the resultant despondent mindset, forgetting to drink enough water, obligatory travel and easy access to unhealthy foods. The quality of the water you drink is also essential. Water Filter Way will give you more advice on how to tackle the issue of low-quality water.

The guidelines that follow will help you to better manage these lifestyle challenges of eating on the run so that you can sustain your energy levels, work smarter and get more out of the day.


Most of the foods on offer are high in saturated and total fat, sodium and/or sugar, and virtually devoid of fibre and vitamins. Eating these foods on a regular basis may results in erratic blood sugar levels, leaving you with low energy, irritability, poor concentration, weight gain and an increased risk of diabetes, heart attacks and stroke, gout, high blood pressure, cancer, and other diseases. If you know of someone who eats a lot of junk food, but are not willing to give it up just yet, for their health, it would be beneficial to do some research into something along the lines of Mississauga first aid training courses (or ones closer to you) to try and find a way to help them if anything was to happen. You just never know, so it is best to have someone by their side who has their best interests at heart.

Managing This Challenge

  • Before grabbing a snack, consider whether you rather need a break from what you’re doing. Going for a short walk or getting a breath of fresh air may be all you need to feel re-energized.
  • Before having a snack, drink a glass of water as you may simply be dehydrated.
  • Think before you buy a snack. Often just seeing tempting snacks will stimulate appetite but not actual hunger.
  • Do not allow yourself to become very hungry by missing meals. Hungry people tend to make unhealthy food choices, particularly if tempting snacks are readily available.
  • If you must have that bar of chocolate or packet of crisps, choose the smallest size and consider sharing your snack with a colleague or friend.
  • When choosing a beverage, preferably choose water or opt for a sugar-free cold drink rather than a sugar-laden cold drink.
  • Ask for healthier snacks to be provided.
  • Your best option is to have your own supply of smart snacks.


Overconsumption of caffeine often goes hand in hand with overconsumption of sugar and refined unhealthy snacks such as biscuits. Excess caffeine intake may cause feelings of anxiety, increased blood pressure, insomnia and headaches. It can also be a digestive system irritant, causing heartburn, cramping or diarrhoea in sensitive individuals.

Managing This Challenge

  • Before having a cup of tea or coffee, consider whether you do not simply need a break. A short walk or a breath of fresh air may be all you need.
  • Coffee, regular tea, hot chocolate, cola drinks and some energy drinks contain caffeine. Coffee and tea should be limited to three cups per day and hot chocolate, cola drinks and energy drinks should not be consumed on a regular basis, but rather as a treat. The energy drinks that may be more effective for you would be from companies such as RED Elixir. These types of drinks are said to be all natural, with antioxidants and help with muscle recovery (along with other properties). This may be worth a try, especially in comparison to the drinks you have that’s filled with sugar.
  • Avoid coffee and tea creamers, as they are high in saturated and trans fats, which increase the risk of diabetes, cancer, heart attacks and stroke.
  • The total daily sugar intake for an adult should be less than 10% of total energy, which equates to eight teaspoons of sugar per day for women, and 12 teaspoons for men.
  • Although tea, coffee and cocoa contain beneficial flavonoids and other antioxidants, the caffeine content limits their benefit.
  • With every cup of coffee or tea, drink a glass of water to quench your thirst. In winter, drink hot water with a slice of lemon, orange or fresh ginger in it. Herbal teas also count as water.
  • To cut back on caffeine, choose decaffeinated coffee. If you are not a coffee lover, you may enjoy natural coffee substitute chicory.


Most beverages on offer when you’re on the run are not pure water, making it difficult to ensure proper hydration. Even mild dehydration may result in reduced concentration capacity, false hunger, headaches, joint pain, poor digestion and lower energy levels.

Managing This Challenge

  • A good estimate of how much water you should drink per day is to take your body weight in kilograms and divide it by 10, giving you the number of glasses of water you need per day. For example, a 60kg woman would need about 6 glasses of water per day. One glass of water is a minimum of 200ml.
  • Start your day with a glass of hot water. For extra zing, add lemon slices, fresh ginger or mint.
  • Fruit-infused water is available all day makes for a delicious thirst quencher.
  • Keep water with you at all times: a jug or bottle of water on your desk and at all meetings, bottled water in your car and filtered water in the kitchen. In summer, freeze water overnight and enjoy ice cold water throughout the day. In short, keep water visible so that you actually drink it.
  • Herbal teas, hot or chilled, make a delicious source of water.
  • Every cup of regular tea or coffee should be accompanied by a glass of water.
  • Water can be flavoured with artificially sweetened cordials, but keep to no more than one litre of flavoured per day.
  • When you think you are hungry, have a glass of water first as you may simply be thirsty. Thirst should be quenched with water and not juices and soft drinks.


The challenge with meetings is that either unhealthy foods are provided or none at all. Foods on offer during meetings such as pies, biscuits, sausage rolls, samoosas, spring rolls and sandwiches are highly refined and high in fat. This can limit engagement and creativity and promote weight gain.

Managing This Challenge

  • Be proactive and if possible, organise healthy food platters for meetings. There are various catering outlets that provide delicious smart snack platters.
  • Suggested snack platter items: cucumber strips, mini spring onions, falafels, baby carrots, mini pitas, dried apricots, asparagus spears, cherry tomatoes, tzatziki, hummus and low-fat cottage cheese as a dip, mini meatballs, olives, celery sticks, mini mozzarella balls, berries, boiled eggs, chicken strips, dried mango, Peppadews, shaved cold meat, grapes, snap peas, baby corn, pineapple, sweet peppers, smoked salmon, crackers, etc.
  • Keep your own healthy snacks on hand to consume during or between back-to-back meetings.
  • Ensure that water is available in all meetings along with the tea and coffee.
  • Meetings are best scheduled between meals, rather than at meal times. Rather have a smart snack before meetings and then a beverage during the meeting.
  • If you have to eat from unhealthy food platters, rather fill a plate of food once, keeping in mind that half should be vegetables or fruit. In this way, you end up eating a fairly balanced meal rather than too many high fat, high carbohydrate snacks if you nibble continuously.
  • If there are four or fewer of you who need to have a meeting, consider going for a walk while addressing the issues at hand. This helps to reduce unhealthy snacking.


Eating out and takeaway meals increase the temptation to overindulge, have treats and consume unbalanced meals, resulting in difficult weight management, increased lifestyle disease risk and poor energy management.

Managing This Challenge

  • No matter where you are eating, remember to fill half of your plate with colour from nature’s colour palette: salad or vegetables. The meat, fish or chicken portion should be about the size of the palm of your hand, and the starch (including the bread and pudding) should be the size of your fist.
  • Hot chips, a regular item on restaurant and takeaway menus, are high in unhealthy fats and kilojoules and are not needed as part of a meal.
  • Salad is a healthy choice as long as the dressing is low in fat. A salad should not be drowned in dressing – only drizzle on enough to enhance the flavours of the salad. Remember that salads with protein (chicken, tuna, salmon, cheese, and so on) are a meal in themselves.
  • Meat and vegetable sauces can also be high in fat. Order them on the side and only drizzle the sauce over the food.
  • Dishes with the sauce already plated are acceptable as long as you eat the vegetable or protein with just enough sauce to add depth of flavour and leave most of the sauce on the plate.
  • Eat regular meals so that it is easier to make wise food choices when eating away from home. If necessary, have a smart snack such as fresh fruit, low-fat yogurt or a handful of nuts before eating out.
  • Eat mindfully. Be aware of the textures and flavour sensations of the food you are eating. Savour every mouthful, and eat slowly. Remember that it takes 10 to 20 minutes for the ‘feel full’ message to register in your brain.
  • Fruit juices, soft drinks, milkshakes, smoothies, energy drinks and alcoholic beverages are strictly speaking too energy dense to have with meals. You should rather make water your beverage of choice with all meals. Alcohol on an empty stomach is also not recommended.
  • Vegetarian dishes are not necessarily a healthier option, as they can be very high in fat due to the cheese, fried items and cream.
  • Omit the starch (bread, potato, chips, pasta) from your main meal if you choose to have a starter or a pudding.
  • Restaurant and takeaway portions are generally too big. Keep to a fistful of starch, protein the size of the palm of your hand and generous helpings of vegetables and salad. If possible order half or starter portions, and if this is not an option, take the excess food home and refrigerate within two hours. Alternatively, keep a frozen ice brick in a small cooler bag in your car and refrigerate the leftovers as soon as possible.
  • If you are easily tempted by the sight of delicious food, avoid buffets.
  • It helps to decide on what you would like to eat before getting to a restaurant to avoid the temptation of ordering less healthy items while distracted by others around you.
  • Avoid the bread or rolls that are offered as you are seated, unless you would prefer to eat the bread in place of the starch in your meal.
  • Be careful of dessert denial, as it can be counterproductive. Most people feel that dessert rounds off a good meal. However, desserts are high in fat and calories. Rather share a dessert between two or four people to satisfy the need for a sweet ending. Alternatively, opt for a sweet decaffeinated skinny cappuccino.


Whether you spend a lot of time in a car or hotels, or fly across time zones, travelling disrupts your usual eating routine and can play havoc with healthier food choices.

Managing This Challenge

  • The biggest challenge with meals served on aeroplanes is the almost complete lack of vegetables and fresh fruit. Make sure you do eat all the salad and vegetables that are served, and then limit the starch of the meal to a maximum of two choices of either the bread roll, pastry, crisps, chocolate, cake, biscuits, pudding, or cooked starch.
  • Should you wish to have a meal before boarding a plane, choose a salad-based meal with a small protein serving.
  • Meal timing is the other challenge when travelling. A main meal should only be consumed four to five hours after the last main meal. Should you be served a meal one to two hours after a large meal, treat this meal as a snack, rather than consuming the whole meal.
  • If possible, carry a good selection of smart snacks with you.
  • Fruit juices, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages are strictly speaking too energy dense to have with meals. Rather make water your beverage of choice with all meals. Alcohol on an empty stomach is not recommended, and be sure to match every alcoholic drink with a full glass of water.
  • Drinking enough water is very important, as long flights are particularly dehydrating. Have a glass of water every hour or so.


Not having enough time is everybody’s reality and is often the reason why nutrition is compromised and no longer a priority.

Managing This Challenge

  • Modern food availability distorts the natural choice of healthy foods. That is why correct nutrition knowledge and skills are essential for better food choices.
  • A well-stocked kitchen with the correct foods makes it so much easier to assemble balanced meals in a jiffy and to eat healthily on the run. Keep a small notebook and a pen in the kitchen so that you can add foods to your shopping list as you see them up. Ordering online is also a convenient option.
  • Free time on weekends can be used to prepare or bake meals and snacks ahead of time.
  • Make use of recipe books that offer quick, healthy meals. Choose a few recipes and compile a shopping list so that you have all the ingredients available when you want to make these dishes.
  • On occasion you may wish to use caterers who provide healthier ready-cooked meals.


A healthy relationship with food is manifested in the enjoyment of food flavours and textures balanced with an appreciation of the physiological function of food and eating in response to real hunger, and not appetite. Aberrant food relationships occur when there is obsessive behaviour linked to food intake, which can manifest as overeating, undereating, or fanaticism about any particular food(s).

Managing This Challenge

  • Enjoyment of eating is important, but so too is being able to distinguish between living to eat and eating to live.
  • Health fanaticism can be detrimental to your health by causing nutritional deficiencies and encouraging obsessive behaviour. Aim for progress, not perfection. An all-or-nothing approach is counterproductive. Set yourself up for success by making a few small changes and making them part of your lifestyle. Rather than deciding to drink more water and eat more fruit and vegetables, be specific by keeping a glass of water at your desk at all times; deciding to eat fresh fruit as your afternoon snack while you drive home; ordering a salad as a starter when you eat out, and so on.
  • Eat mindfully. Be aware of the textures and flavour sensations of the food you are eating. Savour every mouthful, and eat slowly. Remember that it takes 10 to 20 minutes for the “feel full” message to register.
  • Keeping a food diary creates self-awareness and can identify where you are eating too much or too little.
  • Awareness is the first step to change. Try to identify whether you were rewarded with treats or sweets as a child for good behaviour or mishaps, such as falling off a swing. This may be a reason for emotional eating in adulthood. Rather manage your boredom, loneliness, frustration, and mishaps with non-food-related activities such as reading a book or favourite magazine, calling a friend, spending time in nature, walking or perhaps writing in your journal.
  • Be aware that there is a difference between hunger and emotional eating. Before eating, ask yourself, “Am I really hungry or am I responding to other triggers?” Hunger triggers include the delicious aroma or sight of food, emotions, and traditional meal times.
  • Thirst is often perceived as hunger, so drink a glass of water before responding to your apparent hunger.
  • Denying yourself the foods you love will most probably result in cravings and bingeing. Be balanced and allow yourself to have guilt-free treats. Healthy enjoyment of food is characterised by good portion control.
  • Movement such as a brisk walk or workout releases the same “feel-good” brain chemicals that are released when eating. Laughter will also release these endorphins.
  • Regular check-ups can be a wake-up call to health problems such as being over- or underweight, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and pre-diabetes.

Source: Fast Food for Sustained Energy

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