Yep it’s that time of year, shop till you drop time! The malls are packed, you can’t find a parking spot at any department store and your out the door bright and early with your Christmas shopping list! The next thing you know it is 2:00 PM and you haven’d had a bite to eat. You are STARVING and are desperate enough to hit the food court or gnaw on a candy bar as you wait in endless lines.
Whenever shopping fast food chains are what most of us feel we must resort to. Pass a McDonald’s on the way to the to Target; Johnny Rockets, Dunkin Donuts and California Pizza Kitchen are the first things you see when you park your car, or pizza place and pretzel stand appear to be the only option at the Food Court! In actuality there are plenty of healthy options that don’t include fast food or candy. And to be honest there are plenty of fast food chains that offer healthy alternatives, you just have to have the willpower to order them in front of those glistening french fries!
What happens to most of us, including myself, is we use shopping as an excuse. It is our excuse to indulge, treat ourselves and as the advertisers planned it, we can’t see past the bright red and yellow neon signs or the conveniently placed candy and sodas at the check-out. Our starving bellies grumbling at us and we feel there is no other option.
The times are changing, and so is what the consumer is demanding for snacks and meals offered. The “2012 Snacking Consumer Trend Report” found two fifths (40%) of consumers acknowledge they’re snacking more on healthier items than they did two years ago. The challenge is in the planning and looking for better options out there.
Try these tips and foods when shopping:
#1. Pack your own snack/meals.
- Pack portable foods in your car/bag/purse: 100 calorie packs of nuts, protein bars, Snack Attack Packs, fruit, trail mixes etc
- Bring a water bottle to fill up while shopping so you stay well hydrated
#2. Realize everywhere you go there is a healthy option, it is up to you to look for it and choose it.
- Look beyond the neon signs, there is often small “mom & pop” type restaurants and cafes that have healthy, home cooked meals
- Think Green when you want to order lean – look for vegetable based meals
- Use Harvard’s Health Guides Tips when ordering
- Check out Fitness Magazine 24 Surprisingly Healthy Fast Foods
#3. Convenience stores carry convenient yet healthy snacks.
- Pharmacies (CVS/Walgreens), 7-11, airport kiosks etc all carry healthy snacks at the front of the stores now
- Use the Altman Rule to check for those hidden sugars
- You will find: hummus packs, tuna & crackers, fruit bowls, cheese & cracker packs, seltzers, yogurts, nuts, string cheese etc
My Healthy Snacks, Will Travel Guide is a great starter for tips and snack/meal ideas. They key to all of this is a plan and commitment to yourself that you are going to look past the neon fast food signs and candy isle, to see there is a world of healthy and delicious food when you shop.