Every summer my family would load up our van and embark on an 18-hour car ride from Texas to Michigan. Certain snacks were a must: donuts, trail mix, M&Ms, licorice and let’s not forget stops at fast food restaurants. But what if you don’t want to lose the swimsuit body you have work so hard to achieve in a single road trip. Here are some tips to eating healthy on the road:1. Pack your own snacks and meals.Fill your cooler with fresh fruit and veggies, granola bars and trail mix to snack on. You may even want to portion them out into individual baggies so you don’t over eat. Stop at a roadside park for lunch. Rest stops provide a great time to stretch your legs and get some fresh air after being stuck in the car for hours, not to mention a great place for the kids to run off some energy. You can pack a picnic lunch including sandwiches, fruit and chips.2. Don’t eat out of boredom.Most likely you are not burning as many calories as you normally would because you are sitting in the car. Try not to eat out of boredom. Make sure to bring along games, books and magazines or some new music to keep you busy.3. Do your research.Most restaurant chains have nutrition information online, so before you hit the road make sure to do some research. By looking online you will be more informed about the healthy options fast food restaurants offer. For instance get a serving of fruit or side salad instead of French fries with your burger. Skip the fried stuff and order a grilled chicken sandwich or small hamburger. Drink water or diet drink instead of regular soda.4. Share.If you can’t live without French fries, share a small serving. If you need a milkshake fix, ask for 2 cups and split it. You are on vacation so you shouldn’t have to deprive yourself of the foods you love. Sharing with someone else is a great way to cut down on calories and still indulge.Whether you are traveling by train, plane or automobile with a little planning you can eat healthy on the road. Vacation is great time to get away from it all, but you don’t want to come home weighing more than you did when you left. By thinking ahead, smart food choices can be a cinch even a 100 miles from home.
Rachel Vander Galien is a June 2011 graduate of the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dietetic Internship program in Dallas who completed a community nutrition rotation with Neva Cochran in May.