Eating well on the go not impossible

By James Casey

I try to eat healthy, but sometimes I have the feeling my schedule makes it impossible.

Convinced I wasn’t alone in this feeling, I set out to ask fellow students how their dietary habits may differ when they’re on the go.

“They change because you’re going to get what’s convenient,” said Meaira Cartman, junior psychology and family and child studies major.

Junior sociology major Robert Willis said he’d go to McDonald’s or Burger King when he’s in a hurry.

“I’d get a burger, fries and something to drink,” Willis said. “You can’t just go into a restaurant and grab something that’s convenient and healthy.”

Willis and Cartman said it’s also a matter of preference when ordering: Although there are healthier options than burger and fries, it may seem strange to go into McDonald’s and not get something with fries and a Coke. It’s difficult for me to even drive by and not salivate thinking about their fries.

Joan Quinn, coordinator of Food Systems Laboratories, said to choose smaller meals.

“If you do just get a single hamburger and a small fry, it’s not God awful and it’s not gonna kill you,” Quinn said.

The American Heart Association’s website offered a few tips for stopping for fast food. Along with choosing smaller portions, the association recommends you avoid deep-fried foods, sodas and sauces.

There are plenty of side options that aren’t deep fried: Baked potatoes, salads and fruit cups are all healthier alternatives. When ordering a chicken or fish sandwich, the fried option should also be avoided.

I think one of the problems when ordering on the go is the “food as a reward” concept. If I’m in a hurry, I am probably a little stressed out because of the time crunch. Plus, I am probably on my way to do something I don’t really want to do, so I feel I deserve a “treat.” This is how I justify an unhealthy decision, but this is wrong. Food, especially the kind of food that is detrimental to one’s health, should not be used as a reward.

Another mental obstacle is the mindset of “I’m already ordering unhealthy food, so I might as well go all the way and get exactly what I want.”

I often feel this way and it’s quite unfortunate. I need to take the advice of dietitians and the association to find a way to minimize the damage fast food can do.

Of course, the very best scenario is to not be in a hurry (that stress stuff will kill you), and prepare your own food. I am always jealous of the people I see pulling out a bag of grapes, vegetables or some other healthy snack from their super convenient mini-cooler.

I think I’m mostly just upset with my inability to plan ahead.

But when I end up cursing myself for watching another “Breaking Bad” episode instead of preparing a healthy lunch, I’m comforted knowing great strides have been made toward increasing healthy options in fast food restaurants.