Nice weather often equates to an uptick in road trips. During such trips, motorists and their passengers will need to take breaks to refuel both their vehicles and their bodies.
Rest stop and convenience store snack options are often unhealthy, and it can be difficult for nutrition-minded travelers to find acceptable fare. But a little creativity coupled with some smarter choices can ensure road trips don’t derail healthy diets.
• Bring food along. One of the easiest ways to eat healthy while traveling is to bring meals and snacks with you. Look for portable foods that may not require much refrigeration, such as fruit bars or trail mix. If you have room in the car for a small cooler or insulated lunch packs, fill them with fresh fruits and sandwiches. Opt for lean lunch meats like chicken and turkey. Avoid using cheese or dressings like mayonnaise that can quickly spoil. Some other easily portable foods include applesauce cups, oatmeal packets (all you need is hot water from a rest stop) and low-sodium, low-fat jerky.
Pack plenty of water, a healthier choice than soft drinks that will also keep you hydrated when sitting in the car for extended periods of time.
• Find healthy fast food. If packing food is not an option or if you just prefer the convenience of getting something along the way, you can still make informed choices. Opt for foods that are roughly 500 calories or less and boast plenty of protein and whole grains to help you feel full longer. You may not be able to enjoy low-sodium foods, as many fast food options go heavy on the salt. Just steer clear of extra condiments that only increase those already considerable sodium levels.
If you must opt for fast food, do not order sides of fries or chips, which will only make meals less healthy. Also, avoid sugary sodas. Many fast food restaurants offer some healthy fare, such as grilled chicken sandwiches. Order such sandwiches plain or with extra lettuce and tomato for a healthy crunch. Order sandwiches on whole-wheat buns when possible.
Kids’ meals tend to have healthy portion sizes. If possible, purchase a kid’s meal and opt for a side of sliced apples or another healthy alternative.
• Make smart choices at sit-down restaurants, too. It’s important to stay focused on healthy fare even when you pull off the highway and patronize more traditional sit-down restaurants. Again, think smaller portions. Consider splitting an entrée with another person in your traveling party. Some chains will offer the nutritional information right on the menu, or put a special symbol next to their healthiest offerings. Substitute steamed vegetables for starchy or fattening side dishes and always ask for sauces to be served on the side.
It’s not always easy to eat healthy when traveling. But travelers can often find healthy fare, even if they need to bring it along themselves.