The summer travel season is fast approaching, and if gasoline prices remain low this might be the most popular summer for roadtrips ever. One drawback to driving to your vacation destination is the food and what it can do to your health. Roadtrips are often filled with stops at fast food restaurants, greasy spoons and gas station convenience stores, which can wreak havoc on even the most carefully planned diet (we're looking at you, Dairy Queen).
Forewarned is forearmed, and awareness is your most powerful weapon is this Battle of the Bulge. Here are five tips to help keep you on the right course when driving long distances.
1. Make smart decisions where to stop
Freeway exits will direct you exactly where you don't want to go, namely those sprawling clusters of nutrition landmines where McDonalds is next to Taco Bell, is next Wendy's, is next to Dairy Queen, etc. It is impossible to do anything except eat fast food in those places. Instead, make sure you stop at a market when you want a meal that is quick and/or portable. You may have to plan ahead or be willing to explore a little, but you shouldn't have far to go to find a market that offers fruits and vegetables, instead of fries and milkshakes.
2. Eat smaller meals more frequently
Snacking consistently throughout your drive will help balance your blood sugar and prevent the kind of hunger and cravings 1-2 punch that leads to the Dairy Queen drive-thru line. That doesn't mean snacking on a big bag of Cheetos. Have healthy foods handy that are also easy to eat: grapes, carrot sticks, and whole wheat bread are all good choices. Added bonus: eating smaller meals also helps prevent drowsiness.
3. Include plenty of protein in your meals
Protein also helps stabilize blood sugar and prevents the kind of hunger that leads to travel eating nightmares. Dairy products are a great choice, and if you're drinking milk it means you're not drinking soda or even fruit juice, which often has equivalent amounts of sugar. Legumes are another good choice and so are almonds, which are loaded with protein and easy to snack on by the handful while driving.
4. Make sure you pack healthy snacks
Speaking of snacks, you need to prepare them prior to your drive. Do not wait to purchase snacks on the road, where healthy choices are limited and may be more expensive. It's all too easy to go into that mini-mart with good intentions, and walk out with a bag of Funyons, two Slim Jims and a slurpee. Have your healthy snacks packed and within easy reach, to avoid those roadside temptations.
5. Drink lots of water
Water helps you feel full and stay hydrated, both important considerations while on the road. When you're not drinking milk (see above), water is your best fallback to tame thirst on a long drive. The side effect is a slightly elevated need for bathroom stops along your route, but that's a small price to pay for not eating absolute garbage food.
Have fun, enjoy your vacation and stay away from those Dairy Queens!
CATEGORIES: Healthy Food, Travel, Nutrition, Traveling, Road Trip