We’ve all been there – starving, no food to eat (or nothing decent anyway) and end up gorging at our next meal with no f*cks given towards any intention we ever had to be healthy. All of a sudden its days or weeks later, the jeans no longer fit and we’re trying to explain to our friends, partners, personal trainers, whoever cares that its just soooo haaaarrrd when you’re as busy as us. 99% of us don’t have the luxury of time to be hand selecting our organic meat and veggies from the local farm and then spending all day in the kitchen cooking up a meal of health perfection every time we need to eat. Most of us are so busy we feel like we don’t even have time to eat haha.
So what is the solution? Unfortunately, your issues go far beyond this blog post and I can’t solve them all haha, but I will try and help with a few ideas for snacks on the go that are handbag/car friendly and have many a time got me out of that desperate cycle that leads to binge eating and weight gain.
Firstly I want to point out that eating, sleeping, drinking (water) and exercise are the fundamentals of survival. So if you find you “don’t have time to eat” you may want to re-evaluate your life and core values haha… Make time. Even if its 5 minutes to munch down a pre-made meal or one of these snacks below, you NEED to eat and you NEED to eat regularly. And trust me, your brain will function much more efficiently once you have some decent nutrients in you – that 20 minutes that you spent fluffing about a task could suddenly become 5, and voila, there is an extra 15 minutes you could have spent eating. Same goes with drinking water, keep a water bottle on you and set alarms to remind you if you have to until it just becomes habit.
Ok so snacks. All of the following ideas are healthy but as far as which one you should be having to keep that bod in shape, well that depends on what else you’re eating for the day. For example, if you are already eating enough protein at all your other meals that you actually have time to cook, then snacking on a tin of tuna (high protein) is not going to be the best option because then you’ll just end up eating too much protein and not enough of one of the other food groups and your nutrient balance will be out of whack. THEN, you’ll start to feel like crap and end up overeating anyway and still get fat. Yes that’s right, even eating too much healthy food can make you fat. My BodyBAM online fitness program explains all this in detail (about food groups, nutrient balance and basically what you need to eat to maintain a lean physique and have loads of energy year round).
So to help you out, I’ll give you a little explanation on each of them, so you know how to fit them into your day……
Tins of Tuna or Sardines – High in protein, healthy fats and Omega-3’s! The leanest choices are the ones in spring water or brine, but if you get the one in oil just make sure you include it in your count of fat serves for the day. Just a hint – carry a spoon or fork with you too haha – the amount of times I have cut my mouth on a tuna tin lid is not fun.
Chief Bar – Made from 100% grass fed meat (beef or lamb), dried fruit and are the only completely natural, no preservatives, chemical-free protein bar on the market. And one of the only savoury protein bars in the world. Beef is my fave. Personally, I don’t do regular protein bars. Most of them are filled with sugar or artificial sweeteners, chemicals, preservatives and are actually not very healthy at all. These are currently only available in Australia though.
Kind Bars – I only recently got into these since being in the USA, but I’m sure I’ve seen them in other parts of the world and if not, then something similar in any case. Its basically a nut bar with a bit of rice and other all-natural, non-genetically modified ingredients. My favourite is the Dark chocolate chili almond, closely followed by the Dark chocolate mocha almond (they have loads of flavours including other non-chocolate ones too, most of which are gluten free if you care about that – I don’t haha). With only 200 Calories, 7g fibre, 6g protein and the majority of the Calories coming from unsaturated (healthy) fats, it’s a hard snack to beat taste-wise. Lately I’ve been having one of these everyday… a much healthier and more filling option to my usual chocolate indulgence with the same level of satisfaction.
Raw veggies – Think carrots, zucchinis, cucumbers, capsicums (peppers for the non-Australians), beans, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes (my fave)… so many options here! You can even carry a little salt shaker or sachets to sprinkle on a pinch if you “don’t like” raw veggies. Everything tastes good with a bit of salt, trust me haha. Oh but isn’t adding salt to your food bad? Not necessarily – again depends how much you are eating throughout the rest of the day in other foods – but a bit of salt on a fresh vegetable is going to be 1000x better than McDonalds, or even a (deep-fried, oily, processed) packet of chips. The recommended minimum serve of veggies is 5 per day for women and 6 for men. Veggies tend to be low in calories which make them a great option if you are trying to lose weight and choosing ones that are high in fibre will help you stay fuller for longer – even better! (Yep, that is me eating a capsicum post surf haha)
Fruit or berries – I know you can think of a tonne of handbag friendly fruit options without my help. The recommended daily serve of fruit is 2 pieces (or equivalent to 2 cups) per day for both men and women. Super active people/kids can definitely have extra! Most fruits are also high in fibre.
Brown rice cakes – Great brain food, as they are high in low GI carbs to keep your energy up! If you live somewhere really cold or you had a little cooler bag you can carry, you can even take a spoon and top them with some cottage cheese. If not, then hummus, peanut butter or almond butter (look at the ingredients list and make sure there is only one ingredient – peanuts/almonds) are also yummo. With Vegemite (if you’re not Australian, google it), fruit or just plain as they are also works.
Nuts. Nuts contain a little protein, fibre and are high in healthy fats which will fill you up and keep your energy levels stable. Almonds and walnuts are great bang-for-your-buck choices!
Yoghurt (but only if you live in cold climates or can keep it in a cooler bag that you carry with you). Go for a plain Greek yoghurt that is low in sugar (under 6g/100mL, or if it has fruit in it then under 10g/100mL), low-fat and check the ingredients list to make sure it doesn’t have artificial sweeteners or chemicals in it – you are better off going for one with higher fat content or higher natural sugar content (i.e from fruit).
Left over LEAN red meat (not salami). Red meat is best stored in the refrigerator, but if cooked and then stored in a clean, airtight container it can actually be left out for a few hours without going bad and still be edible at snack time. Don’t try this with chicken, eggs or fish though. So you can get up 15 mins earlier (or do it the night before and leave in the fridge overnight) and pre-make a meat and salad sandwich or cook up some brown rice and veggies to go with it and you have yourself a full meal on the go. Disclaimer – if you get sick (which could happen if you didn’t store/cook your meat properly) I take no responsibility on this one.
If you want to expand your options even further to refrigerated goods, buy a lunch box and put an icepack in it. Since bodybuilding and fitness competitions have become the latest craze, some supplement companies out there now make mini cooler bags that you can safely store and keep cool pre-made meals. I don’t know any to recommend you, but a little Google search should find you a tonne in your country.
I guess the main thing is to be prepared. Not just with snacks on the go, but knowing what foods you are going to eat over the entire day so that you are getting the right balance of all the food groups and nutrients that you need. If you eat toast for breakfast and a big pasta meal for dinner, then snacking on rice cakes may not be your best option if you want to stay slim. But if you have a veggie omelette for breakfast, and fish and vegetables for dinner, snacking on rice cakes throughout the day could be perfect for what you need! If you’re interested to know more, contact me for help with a nutrition guide or personalised exercise plan.
Happy snacking! If you have any other ideas, feel free to share the love and leave them in the comments below!