Eating on the go

Oct 21, 2019

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:

  1. 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.
  2.  Pack your own lunches and snacks when possible, even when travelling.
  3. Graze, don’t gorge! Stay energised by keeping smart snacks wherever you are.
  4. 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).
  5. Get enough brain food by eating natural healthy fats such as unsalted nuts and mixed seeds.
  6. Plan what you want to eat before arriving at restaurants.
  7. 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).
  8. Eat mindfully! Avoid snack amnesia by savouring each mouthful and chewing slowly.
  9. 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.
  10. 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 Stent-Pinha

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.


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