I recently took a car trip to Kansas City. It is about a 10-hour drive that I can do in one day. The challenge is to figure out how to eat healthy and not give into boredom, cravings and old habits when on the road for a long day of driving. We tend to indulge ourselves, particularly with food, when we have to “endure” a long day of travel…driving or flying.
Here are 5 tips that are helpful when you are on the road traveling between destinations:
1. Make sure to keep hydrated. Not only should you be thinking about fitting those 8 glasses of water in, but even better, is going for 10 to 12 glasses. When it is hot outside, you have the glare of the road on your face, and the sun pounding on you as you drive, you can easily get dehydrated. The forced air in the car adds to the need for hydration. Then there is the additional benefit that drinking water is good for keeping busy when boredom can easily get the best of us and cause us to consume things we really don’t want to. Carbonated drinks are not as good for you so if you are looking for a healthy, low calorie bottled drink, consider packing a couple of bottles of Bai5, Sobe Zero, Vitamin Water Zero or other favorite low calorie flavored water drinks in your thermos for the car.
2. Stock up on audiotapes. I go to my local library and check out 3 or 4 books on tape for the car (a fun one this trip was The Athena Project by Brad Thor). Mysteries by well-acclaimed authors keep me enthralled and not so inclined to think about eating all the time. Librarians are great at making recommendations, ask them to give you a few ideas of good audiobooks.
3. Pick fun music to listen to and bring a variety. I have my favorites loaded on my phone. I also have CDs from the library of music I want to experience but am not familiar with so I have something new and different to try. Recently I discovered iTunes Radio. It has worked really well in my car. It allows me to try out and create any number of stations to suit my different moods and to keep me from getting restless. No more fuzzy radio, interminable commercials or unwanted talk show hosts.
4. Pack food that is good to nibble. I have found I get “the major munchies” when I am driving for long periods of time. It is better to have things to chew and munch on every couple of hours instead of packing a sandwich or a whole apple or even an energy bar. It is key to pre-plan when you are going to eat and keep to the plan so you have something to look forward to and don’t end up over-eating. It is okay to watch the clock, just don’t speed it up. I find it is better to have foods that are cut up in pieces, need chewing and take time to consume. Thinking ahead and having bags or food storage containers filled for each snack time is ideal. Here is a list of foods I enjoy on the road:
- Carrot sticks
- Celery sticks
- Chinese pea pods
- Cucumber, sliced in rounds
- Red, yellow and orange bell peppers, cut into strips
- Berries—blueberries and blackberries are easiest and best
- 6 ounce chicken breast, cut into thin strips
- Nuts (walnuts or almonds) measured into 1 ounce servings
- PB2J pancake sandwich for my “look forward to” late afternoon snack
- Chocolate Banana Muffin for the late morning “coffee break” after filling up the gas tank the first time
- Greek yogurt dip for the veggies (if you have a cooler that can keep it cool enough)
- Fresh popped popcorn in 3 cup servings (for flavor add a pinch of herb de Provence and some sea salt)
The key to nibbling is to eat each piece individually. No stuffing your cheeks with a wad of food allowed. This way it will take a while to consume, occupying more of your time, and likely prompting your stomach to get fuller than it would if you downed your snack.
5. Stretch your limbs regularly. Every couple of hours to go through a routine of moving your arms and legs, tightening muscles and then releasing them is great for removing tension, addressing monotony and burning more calories than if you don’t move at all. When stopping for refueling and or for a “pit stop”/restroom break make sure to stand up and stretch. A walk around the parking lot is also a great idea or jogging in place by the car as you are filling the tank. Don’t worry about looking silly…have you every looked around at the other people at the rest stop?!?
Enjoy! And Live Vibrant!