Go Light When You Grab a Bite

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Families today lead busy lives balancing work, school, religious, sports and other activities. Our busy schedules often mean that we don’t have time to make meals for ourselves at home, and we find ourselves grabbing food on the go. And, if we’re honest, this food isn’t always the most healthful for us.

The food we make at home tends to be cheaper and more healthful for us. Did you know that, in 1960, 26 percent of the money spent on food in the United States was on food eaten away from home and by 2011 that number had jumped to nearly half? Americans now buy and consume food away from home an average of four times a week, which can mean an extra eight pounds a year. The more we eat away from home, the more those pounds add up.

However, our busy schedules don’t mean we have to eat unhealthful foods. We can plan ahead and make a meal or a snack to take with us on days we know we’ll be rushed. On the days when we don’t have time to plan ahead, we can order more healthful meal options or smaller sizes.

By making small changes, we can all stick to our New Year’s resolutions and keep our busy schedules. During the first twomonths of the year, we’re constantly reminded about the need to move more and eat better. From Healthy Weight Week to Heart Month to Cancer Prevention Month, various organizations impress upon us the need to keep our bodies healthy to prevent cancer, heart disease stroke, diabetes and a host of other illnesses.

Sometimes, all of these messages can be overwhelming. so, this year, commit to doing just one thing a little better – improving what you eat when you’re on the go. One resolution is much more manageable than multiple ones. Plus, you’re more likely to stick to just one. The best way to maintain this New
Year’s resolution is to pack your own meals and snacks. You can’t go wrong with foods high in dietary fiber, such as whole-wheat crackers, bread and pasta; oatmeal bars; dried fruit; brown rice; and beans. But, if you must eat out, here are a few helpful tips for those of you who are always eating on the go like me:

  • Minimize, don’t supersize. Supersizing your meal only supersizes your calorie and fat intake.
  • Skip the fried or high-fat items. Fried and high-fat items such as fried chicken, fried fish, burgers, fries and nuggets should be avoided. Order grilled food items on wheat buns whenever possible.
  • Switch your side. Substitute fresh fruit, applesauce, side salad or baby carrots for chips or fries, when that option is available.
  • Get the water. Just because a soda is pictured with the meal doesn’t mean that you have to order it. Get the water instead.
  • Walk in instead of driving through. Not only will you get some fresh air, but you’ll burn extra calories.

Changing just one unhealthful habit is a big step in the right direction!

For other resources on healthy eating, such as the African-American cookbook, visit the Lighten Up Lancaster County website at For more information on other aspects of healthful living, visit the LiveWELL Lancaster County website at

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