10 Nutritious Grab-and-Go Foods for People With MS
Healthful eating is just as important for people with multiple sclerosis (MS) as it is for the rest of the population. With a little planning, you can pack a lunch or snack that’s based on nutritious, filling foods and that travels well, too, so it’s still appetizing when it’s time to eat.
In hot weather, any food containing eggs, dairy products, or meat should be refrigerated or kept cold in an insulated bag with a reusable ice pack.
1. Cottage Cheese or Yogurt With Berries
Cottage cheese and plain yogurt are both excellent sources of protein and calcium, and berries provide some fiber, antioxidants, and potassium, which is important for heart health. Some brands of cottage cheese and yogurt are even fortified with vitamin D, which promotes calcium absorption for good bone health.
Pack this snack in a resealable container with a secure lid so it doesn’t leak.
2. Banana–Peanut Butter Roll-Up
Spread a whole wheat tortilla with peanut butter, then add thin slices of ripe banana. Roll up the tortilla with the fillings enclosed, and wrap it in waxed paper or place it in a plastic bag to take with you.
When choosing peanut butter, look for one without any added sugar. Peanut butter and other nut butters are rich sources of healthy, unsaturated fats and protein, while bananas are a good source of potassium and also provide fiber. And a whole wheat tortilla provides both protein and fiber — but be sure to look for tortillas with low or no saturated fat.
3. Low-Fat or Reduced-Fat Cheese and a Piece of Fruit
Individually packaged string cheese may be the most portable type of cheese, but a 1 ounce (oz) chunk of any naturally lower-fat or reduced-fat variety of cheese will provide you with protein and calcium without adding a lot of saturated fat to your diet. Some cheeses that are naturally lower in fat include Parmesan, feta, goat, mozzarella, Camembert, and Neufchâtel.
Pairing the cheese with a piece of fruit adds more vitamins, minerals, and fiber to your snack. Variety is key when it comes to fruit — the more colors of fruit you eat, the broader the variety of phytonutrients you’ll be getting, and the less likely you’ll get bored with any one choice.
Another way to get the most nutrition from your fresh fruit is to eat what’s in season. Here’s a quick list to get you started:
- Winter: apples, bananas, oranges, and pears
- Spring: apricots, pineapple, and strawberries
- Summer: blueberries, melons, cherries, and peaches
- Fall: cranberries, grapes, and mangoes
4. Mason Jar Salad
If you’re a fan of salad, here’s a way to pack one that’s portable and just to your liking. Create a Mason jar salad by layering the ingredients in a quart-sized container, with more robust ingredients on the bottom and crushable ingredients, such as lettuce, on the top.
For example, you can make a caprese salad by placing chopped tomatoes, fresh basil, and fresh mozzarella in the bottom of the container, filling it up with leafy greens, and adding olive oil and vinegar for a dressing.
Or you could start with chopped, cooked chicken, cooked quinoa or rice, some chunks of avocado, and a layer of leafy greens.
If you’re concerned about possibly dropping and breaking a glass Mason jar, use a plastic container instead.
5. Baked Egg Cups
If you love quiche, you’ll also love these make-ahead egg cups that omit the crust for a lower-fat dish. Simply place chopped, cooked vegetables and reduced-fat cheese in muffin tins, top them with whisked eggs, and bake in a preheated oven until the eggs are set.
If you use mini muffin tins, bake at 350 degrees F for 10 to 15 minutes. One serving is 2 to 3 mini egg cups.
If you use standard muffin tins, bake at 350 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes. One serving is 1 egg cup.
These egg cups freeze well, too, so you can make a big batch ahead of time and thaw them as you need them.
6. Chocolate Trail Mix Bites
To indulge in something sweet without going overboard, try making dark chocolate trail mix bites. Simply melt some dark chocolate (look for 60 percent cacao or higher) and place it in small circles on a piece of parchment paper. While the chocolate is still warm and soft, add a couple of your favorite nuts, seeds, and dried fruits, such as raisins or dried cranberries. Then let it set until hardened.
While these chocolate treats are a healthier option than most commercial candy, remember that all of the ingredients are high in calories, so limit yourself to one or two trail mix bites at a time.
7. Veggie Sticks With Hummus
The more vegetables you include in your diet, the better — and when you dip veggie sticks in hummus, you get the fiber, protein, and good taste of chickpeas, as well. Carrots, celery, red peppers, cucumbers, and jicama all make good veggie sticks. Raw zucchini, green beans, and sugar snap peas are options, too, particularly if you have young, tender vegetables.
If you have difficulty cutting vegetables, look for baby carrots and precut vegetable strips in your grocery store, or ask a friend or family member to cut up enough to supply you for a few days.
8. Tuna Pouch
Tuna is a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which are an important part of a heart-healthy diet. A number of companies now sell single servings of tuna (about 3 oz) in easy-to-open pouches, making tuna convenient for a quick snack or lunch. Tuna pouches can be stored at room temperature.
Kefir is a fermented milk beverage that tastes somewhat like yogurt and is slightly fizzy. It’s generally sold in quart-sized bottles and single-serving containers in a variety of flavors, some of which may be high in sugar.
Like yogurt, kefir provides protein, calcium, magnesium, and folate, and some products are fortified with vitamin D.
Perhaps most notably, kefir is an excellent source of probiotics — live, active bacteria cultures that may help to keep your digestive tract healthy and, consequently, contribute to a healthy immune system, since the gut plays a role in the body’s immune functioning.
Kefir can be drunk plain, added to a smoothie, poured over cereal, used as a buttermilk substitute in baking, or used to make salad dressings and cold soups.
Nuts are a nutritious addition to any meal or snack. They’re a great source of protein, unsaturated fats, and fiber and are portable to boot! Because nuts are high in calories, a small handful is the perfect serving size for most people. When buying nuts, it’s best to choose a no-salt-added variety, since too much sodium in the diet can raise blood pressure.