Monday, February 4, 2013

Healthy Habits on the Road

Just because you are taking a family road trip or work has you out of town for a few days doesn’t mean you have to give up your good eating habits.  It takes a bit of planning and a bit of will power but its worth it in the end.  Everyone knows that a few days of greasy fast food, sugary snacks from a vending machine or salt laden microwave meals only leaving you feeling fat and fatigued.  Instead this time around, take a few minutes to learn the best approach to being healthful on your next trip.

Wherever your trip it is best to start with breakfast, especially if you are on a trip that requires lots of driving, as it will fuel you for later in the day.  Avoid sugary starts like danishes and donuts, as they give you a quick burst of energy then leave you sleepier.

Breakfast at a hotel:  If there is a continental breakfast opt for choices like: whole grain cereal with low fat milk; yogurt; whole grain toast with peanut butter or a hard boiled egg ; or oatmeal and fruit.  Try to avoid: danish, bagels and cream cheese or bakery muffins, all of which are loaded with unnecessary fat.

Breakfast at a restaurant:  Choose an omelet filled with vegetables and a side of whole grain toast; oatmeal with nuts and fruit; or a 1/2 order of whole grain pancakes with fresh berries.  Try to avoid: stacks of pancakes or waffles with syrup; bakery items; or breakfast sandwiches stuffed with eggs, cheese bacon and sausage.  These items are all loaded with fat and sugar that will leave you feeling way to full for the long day ahead.

Breakfast at a fast food establishment:  Opt for choices like a yogurt parfait; egg white wraps or sandwiches and low fat milk.  Stay away from: meat and cheese loaded egg sandwiches; hash brown potatoes and super sized breakfast meals. 

Breakfast at a service station:  If you have no other choice then to grab something on the go it is best to choose: single serving cereal boxes accompanied with low fat milk or yogurt; oatmeal to go cups or protein bars.  Try to stay away from packaged muffins, microwaveable egg sandwiches or sugary options like pop tarts and muffins.

Lunch and dinner are similar in terms of making good choices, such as focusing on protein and vegetables with limiting carbohydrates.  It is best when possible to try to think ahead about where you might be for both meals so you can try to balance them with one another.  If you must be on the road for lunch, see if you can have a sit down dinner. 

Lunch and dinner at a hotel:  If there are no restaurants in the area or in your hotel and you must eat in your room there are some things you can do to make this a healthy option.  Look up local supermarkets to stop and pick up a few things.  Be sure to try to get a combination of shelf stable and refrigerated products, as long as you have a cooler or a refrigerator in your room.  Pick up things like: fruit, vegetables, nuts, healthy spreads like hummus, sliced cheese and whole grain crackers.  If there is a salad bar opt for some healthy greens and add some proteins to help keep you satisfied.  Beware of vending machines that offer high fat snacks or high fat microwaveable options.  Check to see if any local restaurants might deliver to your hotel.

eating on the road

Lunch and dinner at a restaurant:  Take a look at the menu and read it carefully.  Focus on salads and soups to help you feel full, and consider this combination rather than a large main entree.  If possible get a salad and split your entree with a person you are traveling with on our trip.  When choosing an entree try to opt for grilled or baked foods, over fried foods. Ask if half orders are available as well, as often times when you are on the road the meals tend to be too large and no where to take home left overs. Side dishes, like fries or pastas can always be replaced with salads or vegetables.  It is always wise to skip the bread basket, and be sure to drink plenty of water.  Be careful of indulging in the decadent desserts, especially if you have a lot of work or driving ahead of you, as it will make you sleepier. 

Lunch and dinner at fast food:  If you have to opt for fast food try for the salads with grilled chicken but choose low fat dressing or dressing on the side.  Keep in mind that regular dressings often have more fat than a burger and fries. Choosing a sandwich can provide a healthy option as well as long as you choose grilled sandwiches or plain burgers with less of the fixings, limit cheese, mayo and other higher fat dressings.  Side salads, baked potatoes, chili and soups are better than fries in most places.  Opt for diet drinks, and stay away from “supersizing” anything. 

 Lunch and dinner at a service station:  At times this might be your only option for lunch or dinner.  In this case it is best to opt for a protein bar, packaged sandwiches if they carry them, microwavable low calorie foods or yogurts and a fruit if there are no other options. 

Prior to your trip try to anticipate the food scenario, this will help you better prepare.  Throw some snacks in your suitcase or bring a cooler for your car trips.  Foods that come in single served portions, combination of proteins and carbohydrates, and non-perishable proteins are always wise choices. Keeping hydrated is just as important so don’t forget to keep cold water for the ride, or in your hotel room. Remind yourself that it is okay to indulge at times on your trip, but if you are gone for a long time or will be traveling a long distance by car, you want to feel your best. 

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