But it doesn't have to be that way. All it takes is a little extra planning, say registered dieticians.
"If you pack your food the night before, you can make sure you are eating healthier," says Stacey Newpoff, clinical dietician for the McConnell Heart Health Center on the Riverside Hospital campus. "And it doesn't take a lot of effort."
Newpoff says even peanut butter on whole wheat bread is a healthier choice than typical fast food take-out.
"I also recommend yogurt and pretzels for snacks," she says. "And pack a frozen entrée."
There are a number of choices for low-fat, low calorie frozen entrées; the biggest drawback can be their sodium content.
If fast food is your only alternative, opt for more sensible choices like salads with low-fat dressing and plain baked potatoes.
"Many fast food places are trying to offer healthier choices," says Newpoff. "like Subway's veggie sub with baked potato chips."
Sue Ayersman, clinical nutritionist with Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Kronos Optimal Health Centre, suggests stocking up on healthy foods and eating them often throughout the day.
"Not eating is a big mistake," says Ayersman. "It leads to bingeing later."
Ayersman says high-starch foods like bagels are not the answer, either.
"You should have a higher protein food like boiled eggs," she says. "Mixed with low-fat cottage cheese, it's a good lunch as well."
Ayersman also recommends hummus because it is high in protein and fiber. And don't rush out for a protein bar -- they are often high in sugar and calories.
"A small package of nuts, mozzarella cheese sticks and fruits like red grapes or peaches are healthy and easy to eat on the go," she says.
And Ayers recommends the overnight traveler pack canned tuna and order a salad at the closest restaurant.
"Eating healthy can be easier and quicker than you think," she says. How to reach: McConnell Heart Health Center, (614) 566-3801; Kronos Optimal Health Centre, (800) 515-5332 or www.kronoscentre.com