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Grab and Go Healthy Eating Options

By Katie Miller RD, LDN, CSCS Helping you choose healthier options off the menu when eating out. Due to the high stress, shift work, and unpredictability of the job, police officers are prone to cardiovascular disease and overweight or obesity.  The reduced sleep associated with this line of work is an individual factor for weight gain alone.  Proper nutrition can seem difficult for an active law enforcement officer, but with a few tweaks and some planning, one can easily gain control of that waist line.

More restaurants are creating healthier menu items which can make eating better an even more realistic option.  These new options allow one to choose whole grain breads, healthier side dishes (i.e. salads, pre-cut fruits and vegetables, and drinks other than soda), and lower calorie options (grilled vs. fried meats, wrap vs. sandwich bread, etc). However, sometimes the healthier options can be loaded with hidden fats or sodium, so it’s best to spend some time evaluating the nutrition facts of those accessible restaurants or fast food chains to make the best decision during fast meal times.

Here are a few guidelines to help make those choices:

Deli or sandwich shop Lean meat (chicken or turkey), veggies, whole grain bread with side salad, baked chips, or chili – avoid grilled sandwiches smothered in cheese.

Fast Food drive-thru Grilled chicken sandwich, side salad, pre-cut fruits/veggies, veggie burgers, salads with reduced fat dressing – hold the french fries and milk shakes.

Mexican Whole wheat soft tacos with grilled veggies, chicken, fish, or lean steak – hold the chips and queso.

Bakery Vegetable soups or turkey chili, veggie sandwich, grilled chicken salad with low-fat dressing, lean meat (chicken, turkey) sandwich on whole grain bread – avoid the high-fat pastries and donuts on display.

If there is no time to plan ahead, or in an unfamiliar area, attempt to choose restaurants that allow substitutions, allow one to specify bake, broil, grill, or roast the meal.  And it’s always a good idea to carry portable snacks in the event that even a quick stop at a convenience store is not possible.

  • String cheese, Energy bars, Dried fruit

  • Nuts, Meal replacement bars/drinks, Fortified dry cereal

  • Fresh fruits or vegetables, Peanut butter sandwiches, Bagels

  • Yogurt, Trail mix, Tuna packets

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