Whether you were brave enough to venture out into the mad frenzy on Black Friday or you are shopping at a more leisurely pace in the coming weeks, don’t forget to eat. Logging in the miles at the mall and other retail locations this time of year is not only a national sport, it’s a workout.
One big problem? “People go shopping and skip meals. Then they end up at the food court and don’t make good decisions because they’re starving,” says Keri Glassman, M.S., R.D., author of “The New You and Improved Diet” (Rodale 2012). Not eating frequently—as in every four hours—can also zap your energy and lead to Cinnabon pitstops.
Sound familiar? To healthy up your shopping habits and maintain your energy level so you can get it all done, don’t run on empty. Here are three of Glassman’s top strategies for using food to turbocharge your shopping trips.
Eat a power breakfast. Breakfast raises blood sugar, which will help fuel you throughout the day, especially if it contains fiber and protein for satiety. Glassman’s top breakfast picks: Oatmeal and two hard-boiled eggs or plain yogurt and a slice of toast with peanut butter. You get the idea. To give yourself an a.m. advantage, coffee and donuts won’t cut it.
Snack smart. To keep your energy level up, pack snacks for the mall to nosh on that also have a combo of fiber and protein as well as healthy plant fats. Aim for snack foods that have at least two of those nutrients. Glassman suggests individual edamame and hummus packets, plain yogurt, bags of nuts, fiber crackers with almond butter, turkey jerky, and an apple. “Stay away from the food court unless you know it has a healthy option,” Glassman says. And stick to your guns. No, “Oh, the salad place has a long line so I’ll just grab a slice of pizza.”
Drink up. Being mildly dehydrated—losing 1 to 2 percent of your body weight, which can happen naturally over the course of the day if you don’t drink any water—can contribute to fatigue and confusion, according to a recent study in Perceptual and Motor Skills. So keep a bottle of water handy. Even though water doesn’t contain any calories, it can help get your shopping done. “Staying hydrated is one of the most important things you can do to keep your energy level up,” Glassman says.