Eight Healthy Snacks On the Road
Traveling doesn’t always have to come in tandem with poor eating habits. Healthy eating also doesn’t have to be a detriment to your wallet or convenience. Fast food and expensive sugar-laden coffee beverages may be tempting to keep you fueled throughout a long trip, but with a little bit of planning and mindfulness, you can easily maintain a balanced and nutritious diet.
1.) Instead of opting for a 400-calorie low-fiber bagel, pack a few mini-protein bars for an extra boost. Most gas stations carry these as well. Try a brand that has mostly natural ingredients, low sugar, and high fiber. The smaller serving sizes can also help if you aren’t a big breakfast eater but need something to start your day. They are also useful for long car rides, when snacking is always likely.
2.) Every road trip starts with a coffee run, which can often come with loads of unnecessary sugar for at least $5 per cup. Brewing a mug at home can save you the cash and the calories. You don’t even need a milk frother to produce a tasty coffee beverage that isn’t so far off from what you’re getting from your local barista. I like to heat half a cup of vanilla-flavored soy milk and add it to a nice hot cup of regular coffee in my travel mug and sprinkle some cinnamon powder on top so it doesn’t feel so bland. An added bonus it the protein and calcium you’ll get from the milk, without the added sugars of a syrup-flavored latte, which will surely result in a crash in a few hours.
3.) At the hotel, a continental
breakfast is usually a nice perk. However, this is often an excuse to splurge on things you’d never dream of eating at home. While
bacon, eggs, hash browns, and ready-to-order waffles may smell and look delicious, keep in mind the quality of what you’re being served. Abundance usually does not equal high-quality. I’ve seen many sub-par soggy eggs and potatoes, and had waffles that could feed three, and I don’t even like waffles! I just ate them because they were there. Remember, there really isn’t any meal that is
completely free. If you must indulge, try small portions of everything, and truly discern what you really like from the offerings of the buffet. If the bacon isn’t crispy the way you like it, you don’t have to eat it! Easy! Many hotels are getting much better about offering fresh fruit and yogurt cups, as well as several varieties of dry cereal, or even oatmeal. On these items, I’d definitely give the green light.
4.) The thing I miss the most when I’m on the road is vegetables. I don’t like to pack them because they’re messy to eat if I’m driving, they dry out too quickly, or they get something else wet. Personal preference. But by all means, if you can pack fresh veggies and enjoy them for your trip, that’s fantastic! For me, after a day of snacking on pretzels or other non-nutritional munchies, a bottle of vegetable or tomato juice just does the trick. It’s filling, it’s packed with vitamins, and it’s quite invigorating.
5.) Thankfully, many fast-food restaurants are now offering putatively healthier choices for your enjoyment. The salad choices have definitely improved over the years. However, it is still possible to ingest a good amount of empty calories and saturated fat if you’re not careful with toppings. When choosing your salad, definitely add a protein for extra fuel, but beware items that are fried or breaded. Add in some ranch dressing, cheese, and croutons, and you’d probably be better off getting a burger and fries! Green-light items are dark, leafy greens, fruit (if not candied), tomatoes, onions, sunflower seeds, grilled chicken or fish, or even marinated steak for extra iron.
6.) Even though salads can be wonderfully nutritious and delicious, they are hard to eat while driving. And as a vegan, it’s often hard for me to keep adequate protein in my diet unless I remember to pack a few tofu-jerky strips. So, I improvise. A bottle of V-8, a small pack of nuts, and an apple or banana can be a nice travel-friendly lunch until it’s easier to stop to refuel.
7.) Hopefully by dinner-time you’ve made it to your final destination, be it a resort, hotel, or family member’s home. By this time in the day, you’re probably exhausted, dehydrated, and ready for a good comforting meal. Unfortunately, being tired and weary can make you more vulnerable to less healthful food choices. In order to calm yourself before you are faced with a surfeit of fatty foods and sugary drinks, try to take a few minutes to sit down and drink a full cup of water or herbal tea. Do some stretching exercises to ease your travel-fatigued muscles. If you have time, take a nice shower to wash the car or plane ride off. If you’ve absolutely ravishing, have some fruit on handy, which will further hydrate you while providing some natural sugar for quick energy.
8.) Dining out on vacation or even while traveling can be a lot of fun! If you’re in a new area, it’s definitely a good idea to see the sites and taste the local food. Now I’m not saying you should throw caution to the wind, but this is when you should allow yourself to splurge a little. If you’re trying a new restaurant and the special is fried calamari or the fabulour crème brullee, don’t feel the need to deprive yourself. I’d start with a nice salad (see tip #5 for good salad choices), and keep drinking plenty of water. If the restaurant is famous for its baked rolls served gratis before your meal, you should split one with your neighbor, but if they’re really just warm ordinary bread, skip it and save your appetite for your delicious entrée! For your meal you can even split the house specialty with a friend and order another healthier dish for you to split as well, so you’re only doing half the damage. For dessert, it’s always fun to get one for the table to share.
It is absolutely possible to maintain a healthy and satisfying diet while traveling. As an added bonus, the better you take care of your body during vacation, the better you’ll feel when you get back to your regular routine.