Eating Healthy on the Road

Eating healthy on the road

Eating Healthy on the Road

If you learn to make healthy choices when they are not simple or obvious, then making sound decisions will be much easier when healthy choices are abundant and convenient.

As the old adage says, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” So rather than outlining a handful of “eat this, no, that” choices, here are some tips on how to “fish” for that healthy meal option.

Plan Ahead

Standing at a cash register, with dozens of hungry kids clamoring behind you, is a poor time to figure out which menu items are healthy. Take a few minutes before the trip to do a little research on well-known fast food places. Go to the websites of the most popular, take a look at the nutritional information, and make a short list of the items that will work for you. Better yet, check out www.healthydiningfinder.com and www.helpguide.org. These two sites have done much of the work for you.

Although it’s valuable to have this information handy when on the road with a group of kids, it’s just as useful when you are pressed for time, hungry, and the quickest choice is a fast-food drive-through. Stick to what you know will work and don’t be tempted by the pictures on the menu board (hint: they don’t show them because they look healthy). Armed with your short list of “go to” options, you will be less likely to impulsively shout out,“double-cheeseburger-with-bacon!”, when asked for your order.

Get It Your Way

Don’t be afraid to get it your way. Simple phrases such as “no mayo,” “dressing on the side,” and “grilled, not fried,” can save you a lot of calories and fat grams. Occasionally, in group travel, everyone’s meal may be the same – a “fixed menu” for everyone. In that case, don’t be afraid to open the sandwich and see what’s inside. If you have to take off some bacon or scrape away some mayonnaise, then go ahead and do it. Your health is much more important than looking silly.

Don’t Eat It All

An individual’s restaurant portion is often big enough to feed all five guys on a football team’s defensive line. Be aware of this, and remember that you don’t need to clean your plate. Your Tour Director won’t channel your mother and prevent you from leaving the table until you finish! By controlling your portions and enjoying things in moderation, your meal options are greatly expanded.

Buffets are great ways to feed large groups of kids with varying tastes and appetites. They are also terrible temptations for those trying to eat healthily. Buffet meals are generally pre-paid in advance.  But, remember, one doesn’t visit a buffet to “get one’s money’s worth.” Once you are inside the door,  you may choose to leave feeling satisfied and healthy, or depart like an over-filled water balloon with a double helping of guilt. Buffets are like casinos: the only way to win is to quit while you’re ahead. Don’t fall for the buffet’s tempting treats. Say, “adios” when you’ve reached your healthy eating limit.

Water It Down

Most people rarely drink the amount of water recommended by health professionals. Water is extremely important while you are traveling, and extra efforts should be made to drink plenty. Aside from preventing dehydration (especially when on a plane or visiting a warm destination), water is very beneficial to healthy dining practices. A stomach filled with water before the meal begins is a stomach with less room for tons of food. This makes it easier to control food portions consumed.  Bring your own water bottle, and re-fill it often.  Water is also a much healthier alternative than cola. A super-sized 32-ounce soda has about 300 calories that could be much better used elsewhere.

Bring It With You

Throwing a handful of healthy granola bars and some trail mix in your backpack is a great way to make sure that a rest-stop vending machine isn’t your only option when the all-night bus ride hunger attack hits. Having a healthy option in your bag makes it a lot easier to walk past that candy bar aisle at a gas station, too. Keeping a few healthy snacks on hand helps prevent unwise “between meal” choices, and they will make you less apt to overindulge when meal time comes.

Don’t Freak Out

No one is perfect: everyone caves-in to temptation once in a while. So, while you’re on a trip, don’t beat yourself up over every French fry that you shouldn’t have eaten and every snack choice that wasn’t optimal. You travel to enjoy yourself, so if you make a mistake, relax and do better next time. On most trips to Orlando, New York, or Washington, D.C., the incredible amount of walking you do will “forgive” and take care of your guilt. Just remember, the next meal is a new opportunity to make a great decision, and tomorrow is a new day!


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