With American adults and children finding themselves busier than ever, the best of intentions for eating healthy tend to give way before more pressing time constraints. While we all know that fast food is pretty much the worst thing we can put in our bodies, it does tend to be fast, cheap and tasty, making it a tempting choice even when we know better.
With that in mind, it’s time to reimagine “fast food” with convenient weight loss foods – items falling readily to hand as we dash out the door that won’t wreck our health or pocketbooks.
Here are my top 5:
Raw Fruit – Whole, raw fruit is the probably the #1 on-the-go food for weight loss. Adults and children alike tend to enjoy fruit and most are either self-contained or can be quickly tossed into a baggie for grab & go portability. They’re also loaded with vitamins and assorted nutrients.
The only downside to fruit is the sugar content. The best weight loss food choices of fruit are berries due to their high nutrient-to-sugar ratios. A large apple contains more than 100 calories and 23g of sugar while a cup of strawberries is just 50 calories and 7g of sugar.
Raw Veggies – While raw vegetables tend to garner a lackluster rating in comparison to the taste appeal of fruit, they have the added value of high fiber, low sugar and very low calories. In fact, there are fewer calories in 4 cups of broccoli than in 2 slices of bread.
Food for weight loss such as celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, cauliflower, broccoli and carrots can be sliced up and placed into baggies for easy transport. A dash of salt adds flavor. Combine these ingredients with lettuce and you have a salad. If you’re not a fan of raw veggies, some like celery can be dressed up with natural peanut or almond butter for some added good fats and protein. Avoid most salad dressings as these are filled with additives and sugar.
Raw Nuts and Seeds – Raw nuts and seeds are excellent sources of healthy fats, protein, vitamins, iron and fiber. The sheer variety of nuts ensures that most everyone will find one they enjoy. For those suffering from an allergy, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds and flax seeds are tasty options that can also be sprinkled on salads or blended into smoothies. Because these are all high in calories, keep portions to around a quarter cup and avoid prepackaged products with added oils and sugars.
Smoothies – Many of us are not only pressed for time in preparing meals, but also in eating those meals. An easy option to take out the most time from our hectic day is to toss fruits, nuts, and vegetables into a blender and drink it on the go. And while in the past such concoctions seemed anything but appetizing, simply Googling “smoothie recipes” will yield 6.6 million hits that suggest otherwise. Experimentation will yield some gems to tempt even the pickiest of palettes.
Protein Bars – There are innumerable “protein bars”, “snack bars” and “energy bars” available at groceries and health food stores alike. Unfortunately, many (perhaps most) of them are loaded with added sugar, artificial ingredients, fillers and other questionable additives. But with a little label reading, you can find some healthy options. Choose bars that are high in protein and low in sugar. The closer the bars are to real food, the better.