On the road? 5 great tips to help you eat well while traveling

As the summer season has now kicked off, it is time to think about how to pack and choose wisely for our summer travels. When we are tired and hungry, it is easy to make choices that are not very healthy.

When we travel, we need foods that are both convenient and fast…and healthy. Planning ahead and packing our own foods are the first steps in minimizing the temptation to reach for chips, candy, fast food, and sugary drinks.

Here are 5 tips on how to plan and what to pack.

Purchase before you go. Check out the options at your local farmer’s market or grocery store. Some great portable foods are bananas, apples, and carrots. When I travel by car, I always take bottled water and my cooler, so I can take my favorite things along. Stopping at a rest area where there are picnic tables can provide a great oasis on a long road trip.

Popcorn, chopped vegetables and fruits, nutrition bars with five or fewer natural ingredients, granola and trail mix can be snacks for your flights and airport layovers. They also serve as a quick breakfast on-the-go.

Choose healthier options while you are out. If you are flying, most news stands in the airport and restaurants have healthier options you can find. If there is no fruit, pick yogurt, nuts, or granola bars. Most restaurants have a salad option or a deli sandwich with vegetable options on top.

When you dine out, select from the healthier choices on the menu. Select simply prepared appetizers and entrees for dinner that provide lean protein and fresh produce. Choose a simple salad as an appetizer.  Try a baked potato or sautéed vegetables as your side. A wood-fired pizza with vegetables is another healthy option. Split large entrees with friends or request a half order.

Buy while you are there: If you are staying in the same location for a few days, find a local supermarket where you can save money and calories by picking up foods for breakfast, snacks and possibly some lunches. This option allows you to control what healthy choices you have for meals. Some hotels serve breakfast for free and offer fruit, yogurt, or oat meal. If your room has a kitchen, make your own healthy oatmeal, muesli, or other healthy dishes.

Prepare snacks to go. Making your own healthy snacks before you go is another option. Trail mix, granola, and protein bars are both easy to make and fun to eat. Nuts are a great way to add good oils and proteins. Dry roasted almonds are one of my favorites for traveling.

Bring your lunch: Another great thing to pack is a sandwich for quick outings. This will help save you time, money, and calories. You will have control over your options; whole wheat vs. white; lettuce vs. cheese; olive oil and pepper vs. mayo.

Here are a few extra tips that may be beneficial.

  • Begin each travel day with a healthy breakfast. Don’t skip this important energy starter of the day. Focus on whole-grain toast or bagels, peanut butter, fruits, cereal with yogurt and eggs.
  • Eating fruit on an empty stomach: This will ensure that the glucose in the fruits enters your bloodstream faster, giving you a quick boost.
  • Having more frequent meals during the drive than usual. Instead of 2-3 meals, try 4-5 meals to keep your glucose levels even. Each meal should be light but packed with energy giving foods.
  • Drink lots of water to stay hydrated.
  • Include whole grains in the food you’re eating. These will mete out energy gradually and avoid the high followed by a crash of refined and processed foods.
  • Choose healthy snacks mid-afternoon,. Fruit, crackers and cheese, nuts and vegetable pieces with hummus or salsa are good choices.
  • Don’t overdo foods that can make you feel sleepier but do have them closer to bedtime. These include foods containing a lot of tryptophan such as milk, bananas, turkey breast and low-fat cheese.

Safe and healthy travels!

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