Road trips are super fun but they often go hand in hand with unhealthy junk food. You probably don’t associate road trips with healthy eating. For the majority of people, eating on the road equals eating fast food or in the best case scenario, a homemade sandwich. Tracking your calorie intake while traveling is probably the last thing on your mind. However, just because you’re going on an adventure doesn’t mean you can’t make better food choices. If you want to avoid dieting after every road trip, you have to eliminate unhealthy temptations.
Here are some tips for healthy nutrition on a road trip:
Drink Lots of Water
It is important to stay hydrated while driving, especially during the summer months. Given the fact that you are probably going to spend a substantial amount of time in the car, a little planning ahead is necessary. You should always bring a few bottles of water with you in the car. This way, you can make sure you have easy access to water at all times.
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It is really handy to have a cooler when you are on the road to keep your drinks cold. In order to stay well hydrated, you should drink at least eight glasses of water per day. During the summer, you can drink even more water, especially when it’s really hot outside. Although it might be a nuisance to make frequent rest stops, it’s still a great habit to continue whether you are traveling or not.
Keep in mind that dehydration while driving can cause serious problems such as fatigue or blurred vision. In addition to bringing water bottles with you, you can make coffee (preferably organic), or any kind of tea (green, black, white or herbal) at home. Having a thermos full of coffee will ensure you have your favorite beverage whenever you need it. But coffee and tea will not hydrate your body like pure plain water. In fact, coffee and tea can cause more dehydration so make sure that water is your first choice at quenching your thirst.
Don’t Skip Meals
You should try to stick to your eating schedule even when you are on the road. Your body is used to a certain rhythm, so you should eat about the same time as when you are at home. If you don’t plan ahead and bring some food with you on the trip, you might be forced to skip meals, especially if you don’t have access to food at regular intervals. If you don’t eat regularly, your body will react by slowing down your metabolism.
As you already know, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, meaning you should definitely not skip it. Start your travel day with a healthy breakfast to ensure you will have enough energy for everything ahead. You can eat whole-grain toast or bagels, muffins, peanut butter, fruits, whole-grain cereals with yogurt or eggs or even a protein smoothie. Or, if you prefer, you can enjoy what is always my favorite daily go to which is a delicious meal replacement shake.
If you don’t skip meals, you won’t be hungry at odd times, you can avoid overeating, and you won’t disrupt your internal clock. Planning your meals for the trip and smart food packing can enable you to eat as healthy on the road as you do at home.
Snacks are an integral part of every road trip. Unhealthy snacks are low in nutritional value but high in calories, fats, sugar, and sodium. Unfortunately, they will not keep you satisfied for long.
When it comes to snack selection, instead of those full of sugar and sodium, choose the ones with a well-balanced mix of protein and good fats. Some healthy roadtrip snacks include bananas, apples, oranges, berries, baby carrots, sliced veggies, raisins, nuts, seeds, granola bars, trail mix, hummus, whole grain crackers, among others.
Nuts are a great alternative for potato chips, for example. Peanuts, pistachios, walnuts, almonds, pumpkin, and sunflower seeds are full of protein, fiber, and healthy fat. Fruit is a healthy and refreshing snack options, while on the road. You can store fruit or vegetables in lidded food containers to keep them fresh. You can avoid eating sugar by replacing your favorite candy bar with a natural granola bar or other healthy ‘bar’ alternative.
If you plan to eat while driving, consider snacks you can easily consume with one hand. Choose something that is not too messy and that won’t divert your attention from driving.
What to Avoid
You should avoid deep fried and fatty foods. Burgers and fries can make you feel bloated and sleepy, which is not a good combination if you are the driver. Salty foods can make you thirsty, forcing you to drink more fluid and make more stops for going to the bathroom. The same goes for food that is too spicy.
Try to avoid simple carbohydrates or high glycemic foods, such as fruit juices, sodas or sugary snacks. You will end up trapped in a cycle of high and low blood sugar. Avoid alcohol. You should limit your caffeine intake too, as too much caffeine can bring about the jitters and headaches.
When traveling, most people look for food that’s quick and convenient. However, stopping at a fast food restaurant will limit your food choices to fast food only. You can still try to make wiser choices by choosing grilled chicken or fish instead of burgers. Baked potato is a better option than French fries. You can use mustard instead of mayonnaise and order salad with light dressing.
If there are restaurants along the way that offer healthy food, you can plan to stop there. Packing picnic lunches and eating at a rest area with picnic tables can help you skip fast food restaurants. You can also stop at a grocery store, which will certainly expand your healthy food choices.
When packing for a road trip, it is easy to forget to bring some food for the drive itself. This can narrow down your choices. However, it is still possible to eat healthy on the road if you make just a little effort. Planning and packing some healthy road snacks can make things much easier. It’s not the end of the world if you opt for unhealthy food while traveling, but bear in mind that if you eat healthy, you will feel great, energized, and fully prepared to enjoy your road trip.