I have been toying with the idea of doing a road trip with the kids this summer. Now, before you start commenting on what a horrible idea this is, don’t worry. I’ve already told myself. How to eat healthy on a road trip is something I hear often. Let me share easy ways to stay on track and not stray from your diet.
Road tripping is a blast…but with kids, well…it really can be a drag. There’s the packing. That alone is enough to make me want to pull my hair out, but then you’ve got the repeated “are we there yet?” monolog and the 1,235,457 games of I-Spy (I always win, by the way).
But, if you can get past that, then you’re likely going to do it. And I’m going to help you figure out how to feed your family healthy foods to get you from point a to point b without totally derailing your efforts.
Because let’s face it. You might start with healthy snacks, but undoubtedly, you will stop at a rest stop and be tempted by the food options. I mean, a big bag of Doritos? Sure, why not. Add to that a sugar and calorie-laden frosty beverage and pretty soon you’ll have consumed way more than you planned.
How to Eat Healthy On a Road Trip
Thankfully, road tripping does not have to be unhealthy. If you set yourself up for success, there’ll be no need for stopping at the golden arches or a random convenience store (unless it’s Buc ees…then I’ve got nothing. Go in, spend an hour. Buy a slushie).
Map it Out
Most people end up at a rest stop because they’re hungry and don’t know where else to stop and eat.
If you plan out your trip and route ahead of time, you could stop at a cool smoothie bar for a snack or a health-conscious cafe for lunch. A road trip is a great time to explore different foods and find fun new restaurants. Use tools like Google Maps and Yelp to help you find the best places to eat on your route.
Pack Flavored Water
Part of the fun of road tripping is the fizzy goodness that you get to enjoy on the way. As a kid, road trips were one of the few times I got to have soda (GASP). Since we really aren’t huge soda drinkers here, instead I’ll pack my current obsession: Sparkling Ice.
Think soda with zero calories, zero sugar (zero Weight Watchers points if you’re counting!). Sparkling Ice is seriously awesome. It’s different than any other sparkling water that I’ve tried and we are all totally gaga over it. I even ordered an Amazon Dash Button just for this tasty beverage. I mean…15% off and free delivery? Plus I just push the button when we are running low. Genius.
So, when we hop in the car I make sure that I bring a case of Sparkling Ice with us. Everyone likes it, and as long as we remember to stop at the rest stop every 5 or so minutes it can be enjoyed by all.
Stop at a Grocery
If you don’t have the time to stop and have a sit-down meal, then take 10 minutes and stop at a grocery store and pick up a few healthy snacks. If you need lunch, make your own salad from the salad bar or order your favorite sandwich from the deli.
Some of my favorite snack ideas include on-the-go pretzel and hummus packs, chips and guacamole, pre-bagged popcorn, fruit, and assorted nuts.
Remember to shop the perimeter of the grocery store for the healthiest options.
Protein keeps you feeling fuller for longer. There are many foods that are perfect on-the-go and packed with protein.
Grab a cooler and bring string cheese, turkey roll, hard-boiled eggs, and even yogurt tubes (they’re not just for kids).
You can even bring along your favorite protein powder with a shaker and make a protein shake.
If you focus on protein, you’ll feel more satiated, leading to fewer stops where you might feel temptation.
Avoid Simple Carbs
While these might be what you crave most on a road trip (think cookies, sugary snacks, sugar-laden sodas), these will quickly make you feel fatigued and sluggish. That’s the last thing you need while driving long distances!
Eat every 2-3 hours. We all know that feeling when you let yourself get super hungry and want to eat anything in sight – diet be darned. Avoid this trap by eating a snack every 2-3 hours. You will never feel so hungry that you’ll order multiple items off the menu, and you will be able to hold out for the next town if your options are slim.
AND make sure to hydrate regularly! Drinking Sparkling Ice might make you have to stop more often, but the pros outweigh the cons. Drinking enough fluids will help you stave off cravings.
Often, hunger or cravings are actually your body’s way of telling you it’s dehydrated.
I’m not saying that you can’t eat unhealthy on your road trip; sometimes that’s the best part!
You’re absolutely allowed to treat yourself (I plan to) – just make sure you don’t go overboard.
For example, if you know you want to stop at a well-known ice cream shop, plan on having a healthier lunch that day. And while you are mapping out your healthy restaurants and cafes, make sure to throw in that famous BBQ joint too.
Going on a road trip with family doesn’t have to lead to unhealthy choices and derail your diet. And while I can’t help you with the singing and endless I-Spy, I hope that these tips are encouraging.
Go in with a plan, and you’ll be able to return home without guilt (and a few extra pounds). Most importantly, have fun!