It’s Black Friday. Your alarm wakes you up when it’s still dark. You throw on some clothes, maybe grab a coffee, and stagger out the door. Sound familiar? If you’re going to kick off the Christmas shopping season bright and early, you’ll need to fuel up somehow to keep going through the day.
If you have time to make something before you head out, try a peanut butter banana smoothie. You can make with one banana, two tablespoons of peanut butter, and a cup of milk. If you want to make it even tastier, add greek yogurt, vanilla extract, and a cup of ice. This smoothie will give you long lasting energy with a big boost of protein, plus potassium to keep those leg muscles going.
Want to grab something quick? McDonald’s breakfast menu now boasts Fruit & Maple Oatmeal. It has only 290 calories. It also gives you 130% of your daily Vitamin C requirement, which may help you fend off all those germs you come across in the shopping crowds. Not an oatmeal fan? They also have a Fruit ‘N Yogurt Parfait with only 150 calories and four grams of protein.
If you’re not all cooked out from Thanksgiving, try making your own granola. Pack it in plastic zipper bags, and throw some in your purse for Black Friday. One granola recipe from Cooking Light has 9.8 grams of protein and 7.8 grams of fiber for just 384 calories. You can make it about an hour.
Want a homemade energy boost without cooking? Throw together some trail mix. Since you’re a grownup, you don’t even need to go the M&Ms and peanuts route. The Internet is overflowing with trail mix recipes. (Who knew?) Pick your favorites from the many healthy options, then keep some with you while you shop. For an energy boost, choose seeds, nuts, and grains. Avoid sugary dried fruit or candies — they’ll set you up for an energy crash later.
If you’re thinking fast food for lunch, order grilled chicken. Whether it’s in a wrap, on a salad, or in a sandwich, grilled chicken is one of the healthiest, low calorie foods you can find at almost any fast food restaurant. You’ll get a bunch of lean protein to help you power through the afternoon without overdoing the calories. Just remember that any dressing or sauce you use will add fat and calories to your meal, so choose wisely.
Plan on shopping well into the evening? You’ll need more fuel. Shopping areas tend to be full of chain restaurants where you can get a tasty, affordable meal, quickly. They are also full of diet landmines. If you want to eat healthy, you must be smart about what you order. Some dishes may sound healthy even when they aren’t, such as Pecan Crusted Chicken Salad — a TGI Friday’s dish that packs 1,360 calories. However, many restaurants help you choose better by highlighting healthy fare with special symbols or a separate part of their menu.
One very simple way to trim calories when you eat out is to order only water to drink. Unsweetened tea and low-fat milk are also much better choices than soda, beer, or cocktails. Ask for sauce and dressing on the side, as these tend to be loaded with calories. Lastly, pay careful attention to portion size. Many chain restaurants give you enough food for two or three meals on one plate. Consider getting a container and dividing up your portion to take home before you begin eating.
With a little planning and a little knowledge, you can make healthy food choices even on one of the busiest shopping days of the year. The best food choices will help you feel full and maintain energy all day long without breaking your diet. Happy shopping!