Planning Easy, Fast, Inexpensive, Healthy Meals

We live in busy times. The demands of work and family and personal pursuits can leave a person with little room to pay attention to a healthy diet. When it comes to food, a person on the go doesn’t always make the best choices. When you’re hungry, a fast food meal that takes a couple of minutes to order at a drive through window can be so much more appealing than one that takes much more time to plan and prepare. Fast food, also known as “junk food” is fine occasionally, but when it becomes a habit, it can lead to weight gain and health problems down the road.

According to WebMD, “Not only are most fast foods not terribly healthy, one study indicates that there may be something about fast food that actually encourages gorging.” This food is often low in fiber, high in fat, sugar and calories, and it’s usually pretty delicious, so it’s easy to overeat. The draw of fast food is it is both quick and tasty, but unfortunately, it isn’t that great for your overall well being.

It may seem difficult to find quick healthy meals when you’re on the run, especially if you aren’t much of a meal planner, but with a little thinking ahead, you can be well on your way to a healthier diet. If you are flustered just by the thought of cooking, you might start off by making healthier choices when you’re grabbing food to go. The Mayo Clinic outlines several tips for takeout eating. They suggest keeping the calories down by watching the portion size, choosing the healthiest side dish available to you, going for fresh greens whenever possible, opting for grilled over fried items, asking for healthful substitutions such as low fat mayonnaise or dressing, and foregoing the sugary drink that often accompanies a fast food meal, but can be packed with calories.

Of course, the best option is to think ahead. Become a meal planner. Choose quick healthy recipes that you can take with you and eat on the run. When you plan ahead you have the advantage of knowing exactly what you are eating. You have more control over your choices, and you can choose anything: fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean meats, even an extra treat from time to time. Instead of feeling the frustration of having to pick from a menu of unhealthy items, you truly get to have it your way. Planning meals can be fun, and there are plenty of fast healthy recipes available; you can find great resources for these online or by shopping in the cookbook aisle of your local bookstore.

When creating your own meals, follow the same rules you would when making fast food choices, paying careful attention to portion control and the nutritional value of your food. Instead of feeling the guilt of the drive through, you may actually find yourself pleased when your hectic life leads you to make more fast, healthy eating decisions.

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