With busy living and jobs, it’s easy to have your healthy eating derailed for the sake of convenience or even end up skipping meals due to a lack of time. As runners, it’s important for us to maintain our energy levels and consume foods that are nutritious. With a bit of planning, you can still fit healthy eating into a busy lifestyle.
Top 10 tips:
- Eat breakfast within 2 hours of waking, every day. If you’re a morning runner, make sure you consume a recovery meal with 30 minutes of finishing your run. Smoothies are a great way to get in much neededfruit and have breakfast on the run.
- Pack your own lunches and snacks when possible, even when travelling.
- Graze, don’t gorge! Stay energised by keeping smart snacks wherever you are.
- Snack on fresh fruit and protein to keep blood sugar levels stable (boiled egg, low fat cheese, soya yoghurt, lean biltong, peanut butter, a handful of unsalted nuts or even a pure protein shake).
- Get enough brain food by eating natural healthy fats such as unsalted nuts and mixed seeds.
- Plan what you want to eat before arriving at restaurants.
- Never go out starving – consider eating a slow release (low GI) snack just before leaving home (low GI muffin, fat-free yoghurt, boiled egg, handful of nuts, piece of fruit).
- Eat mindfully! Avoid snack amnesia by savouring each mouthful and chewing slowly.
- Prepare lunches in bulk. Make bulk salads using barley, rice, corn, chickpeas or roast veggies in bulk with fresh herbs and refrigerate for up to 4 days. Also freeze cooked protein portions such as chicken or ostrich fillets in bulk.
- Stay well hydrated and drink enough fluids by keeping water in sight and close at hand.
Smart snack ideas: Savoury, non-perishable
- Slow release high fibre breads (rye, seedloaf, low GI bread varieties).
- Rice, oat or corn crackers. Look for the baked version on supermarket shelves and munch a few crackers with a low fat cottage cheese dip or hummus.
- Low fat plain, salted or flavoured pretzels.
- Low fat crackers.
- High fibre breakfast cereals.
- Popcorn (lightly salted).
- Low fat or fat-free (skim) milk (or alternatives such as soya or rice milk).
- Lean biltong (preferably ostrich or game).
- Small tins or no-drain packets of fish such as tuna, mussels, salmon, mackerel, pilchards (go for those in brine, water or tomato sauce rather than oil).
- Any tinned legume (baked beans in tomato sauce, butter beans, lentils, chickpeas).
- Tinned sweetcorn, asparagus, peas. Add low oil dressing or mayo for a tasty, quick, low fat snack.
- Gherkins, olives and pickled peppers.
- Unsalted, raw mixed nuts.
- Mixed seeds. Try pumpkin seeds, linseeds, sesame and sunflower seeds.
- Peanut butter (ideally without added sugar). Dip apple wedges into peanut butter for a power protein snack.
Smart Snack Ideas: Savoury, perishable
- Sweet potato (simply heat in the microwave and add a dollop of cottage cheese or baked beans).
- Low fat or fat-free, plain or flavoured, smooth or chunky cottage cheese.
- Ostrich Russians, ham, bacon and viennas.
- Precooked or smoked chicken slices or pieces.
- Lean, cold meat slices such as shaved chicken or turkey.
- Pickled fish (rollmops or smoked salmon slices or mackerel).
- Boiled egg. Boil eggs in bulk and keep them in fridge for a few days.
- Savoury, low fat low GI muffins.
- Low fat cheese wedges or cubes.
- Crudités such as cherry tomatoes, baby corn, sugar snap peas and baby carrots.
- Bean salad (at deli counters or in packets).
- Corn on the cob (simply heat in microwave or boil and add herb salt).
- Frozen veggies, like peas or mixed veggies. Why not defrost peas in a mug and add low oil mayonnaise with ground pepper?
Better beverage options
- Water is best (sparkling or still).
- Rooibos or other herbal teas.
- Flavoured water without sugar or fructose.
- Chai tea with water.
- Sugar-free cordials with water.
- Vegetable juice.
- Pure fruit juice diluted with water.
Smart Snack Ideas: Sweet, non-perishable
- Yoghurt or carob-coated rice cakes.
- Health bars e.g. fruit bars, granola bars, soya-based bars, small protein bars. If it’s a snack, the fat content should preferably be below 5g per bar. If the bar is substituting as a meal, then the fat content should be less than 15g per bar. Some bars are quite energy dense so have ½ as a snack with a fresh fruit to boost the fibre.
The following are low in fat but high in sugar and must be eaten in moderation.
- Low fat, children’s cereals (aim for < 5g fat per 100g).
- Sorbet or fruit ice lollies.
- Peanut butt er with pure fruit jam or little honey on a cracker.
- Low fat custard – buy small, easy to eat on the run containers.
- Dried fruit such as mango, apple rings, apricots, sultanas (watch portions if you’re concerned about your waistline).
- Fresh fruit juice (ideally dilute with water).
- Fruit canned in juice or light syrup.
Smart Snack Ideas: Sweet, perishable
- Fresh Fruit – the best snack – no mess, biodegradable wrapper and nutritious.
- Fruit salad TIP: Buy ready-made from a deli or homemade in bulk.
- Baked muffins, fruit loaves, biscuits, rusks that are low fat and high fibre. TIP: Bake low GI muffins in bulk and freeze.
- Hot cross buns.
- Low fat biscuits. TIP: These may be low in fibre. Have with a protein such as cheese to help slow digestion and sustain energy levels.
- Low fat or fat-free, plain or fruit yoghurt.
- Low fat or fat-free drinking milks and yoghurt.
- Soya milk or soya drinking yoghurt. Try new, flavoured soya milk drinks that come in smaller, easy
to drink-on-the-run cartons.
Condiments and extras
- Dip such as Tzatziki or hummus.
- Pickled peppers, relish, wholegrain mustard, vinegar, lemon juice and tomato sauce.
- Bottled or packets of ready-made sauces (ideally less than 5g fat per 100g).
- Lite jam, Marmite, fish paste.
Christine is a registered dietitian with a private practice in Benoni, Johannesburg called Food4Life. She is also a well-known speaker on nutritional topics, specifically to the corporate market.