Planning on getting out of town this summer? Road trips are a great way to unwind, spend time with family, and see the gorgeous sights of the Pacific Northwest.
Unless you’re careful, though, they’re also a great way to pack on a few extra pounds and derail your usual healthy diet choices. But it doesn’t have to be a losing battle. Before you hit the road, use the following tips to help make your next road trip a healthy one:
1. Plan ahead.
Stock the car with healthy snacks such as fresh or dried fruit, veggie sticks (carrots, bell peppers, sugar snap peas are all great choices), and whole-grain crackers. Make your own trail mix with dried fruit, nuts, and whole-grain cereal (leave out the chocolate—it would just melt and make a mess anyway!).
Measure out higher-calorie snacks like nuts and trail mix into small containers or baggies to help with portion control. Snack bars can be a convenient and portable choice, but make sure they aren’t candy bars in disguise. Larabars are a favorite in my family. I also love individual packets of peanut butter, almond butter, and hummus—convenient choices when you’re on the go! Try them on apple slices, celery, carrots, or crackers.
Bring a small cooler packed with string cheese, edamame, and hummus, and while you’re at it, pack sandwiches to have a picnic lunch at a rest stop. Use the break to take a walk and let the kids run off some energy!
2. Do your homework.
Use your smart phone to find healthier restaurant choices along the way, and check restaurant websites for nutrient info to help make the healthiest selections.
No smart phone? Most restaurants have nutrition data available, so ask to see it before you order. The CalorieKing Calorie, Fat, & Carbohydrate Counter is a great pocket-sized book to keep in your car that lists nutrient info for tens of thousands of foods, including 200 fast-food chains.
Stay tuned for more tips for eating well during your summer travels.
Tracy works with the OHSU Surgical Weight Reduction clinic and Cardiac Rehab program, and also provides medical nutrition therapy for General Adult Outpatient Clinics at OHSU.