As much as I’d love to have only freshly prepared meals on road trips, being on the road – and on a budget – tends to make fast food inevitable. Use these tips to make the most of a potentially unhealthy situation.
1. Make it a true “happy” meal.
Wherever you end up, always remember the “healthy plate”: ¼ of your plate should be lean protein (chicken, turkey, fish, beans – avoid anything crispy, crunchy, or breaded), ¼ should be starch/whole grains (bread, pasta, rice, potatoes – aim for whole grains whenever possible, avoid fried foods such as French fries), and ½ should be fruits and vegetables. Create your own happy meal using this model:
- From the sub shop: A 6-inch turkey sandwich on whole wheat, no cheese, no mayo, with extra veggies and a piece of fruit or yogurt on the side.
- From the burger joint: An open-face grilled chicken sandwich or wrap with a side salad. Only use half the packet of dressing provided.
- From a Mexican restaurant: A chicken, black bean, and vegetable bowl. Hold the sour cream, cheese, fried shell, and chips, and ask for a half-portion of rice so you get more of the high-fiber foods like beans and veggies.
- From the pizzeria: One slice of thin-crust veggie pizza, with extra vegetables, light cheese, and whole-wheat crust and a salad. Avoid the bread sticks, extra cheese, and high-fat meats.
2. Stay hydrated.
Water, water, water! Avoid sugar-filled sodas, milkshakes, energy drinks, sports drinks, and coffee drinks, which will just fuel more sugar cravings and make you feel sluggish.
Put on some good road-trip music, eat well, and have fun out there!
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.