It’s happened to all of us.
You know the feeling – you are away from home running errands, or you are out late because you had to stay at work longer, and you realize that you are hungry. Not just a little hungry though. You haven’t eaten for hours, your head is starting to throb and you can’t even think straight.
As you survey your options, you realize getting something to eat that is even remotely healthy is going to be nearly impossible. But you have little choice, so you grab a burger or a salad with ‘grilled chicken’. (Do you have any idea how much that piece of ‘grilled chicken’ has been processed and soaked and manipulated and transformed before it arrives in front of you?) Or a small order of fries just to get you through.
And just like that, you have put food into your body that will lower your immune response, raise your blood sugar, reduce your energy and contribute to weight gain.
It is a tough situation, and as I said, we’ve all been there. Sometimes you really do have to eat ‘right now.’ But over time, these eating emergencies add up and significantly impact your health and fitness achievement.
The answer is to stop having eating emergencies and I will show you how to do this. It does take some planning, but it isn’t as hard as you might think.
Make a list of healthy, on-the-go foods that you enjoy eating. Make sure that you include things with healthy fats, protein and carbs (if it’s around your workout time). When you are very hungry, you need to have all the macronutrients covered in order to get quick energy, satisfy your hunger and clear your brain fog. This does not have to be a complete meal, but it needs to be balanced enough to substitute for one if needed.
REMEMBER The goal is to tame the beast inside you that is calling out for a hotdog from the nearest drive-through window. This is both a mental and physical exercise.
It seems obvious, but it has to happen if you are going to eliminate impulse eating: Buy the food on your list. You have to get it in your house, so you have it when you need it.
Plan your food kit. This food has to travel with you, and you have to decide how you are going to transport it. The secret is convenience. If you only have five minutes to grab your kit on your way out the door before work, it has to be streamlined. Ideally you will leave yourself more than five minutes, but life happens.
You’ve done the hard part. You’ve figured out what foods will make you happy and help you through the emergency, you’ve stocked up on them, you have gathered what you need for transport and you have your water situation figured out.
You have to take the food with you when you leave the house. The first few times you do this, it will seem complicated and tedious, but eventually, you will do it with little thought. It will be a habit. That is why using the same cooler, the same bags and the same water container every time is so important. You will probably find you grab the same foods nearly every time—it’s just easier.
The happy result is that when you are out and realize you are hungry, you will not have to eat food from a restaurant. You will have an assortment of health and energy promoting foods at your fingertips.