Eat Healthy While Travelling
Edited by Acfreelance, Eng, Shelley, Doug Collins
How to Eat Healthy While Travelling
Hint: Avoid the fast food joints
When one thinks of life on the road, highly romanticized images of freedom and adventure flow through the veins of the imagination. Think the wind in your hair, the ever-changing scenery flying by the window and the pure absence of time. Thanks to countless books and movies, the road trip has become much more than a jaunt from A to B, and in many ways it is. The experience of leaving the confines of familiarity are quite exciting, but let us not forget that ever so pesky notion of reality. Sure, we can pretend to be like Jack Kerouac in "On The Road", living off ham sandwiches without a second thought. Yeah, it'll be hard to pass up the best roadside diners in america, but eventually the negative health effects will add up faster than those miles on the odometer. While it's not always easy to eat healthy while travelling, it's not only possible, but just about essential if you want to sustain your wellbeing.
What to Avoid
Fast food establishments
This one probably seems obvious, but when you're tired from hours of driving with a big appetite, logic does not prevail. Combine that with a lack of other options and miles upon miles of tempting billboards along the way showcasing that juicy hamburger and you've got yourself a health catastrophe. It will be hard to resist the temptation, and it's even alright to indulge once in awhile, but if you can avoid fast food on the road, then you've already done most of the hard work to stay healthy.
Unhealthy snack foods
OK, so you've done an incredible job of turning down the plethora of fast food joints forced onto your route of travel. The next logical step to quickly satisfy that hunger would probably come from a gas station or something similar. Be careful here. While it may not be a fast food restaurant, some of the options at a gas station or rest stop are just as bad. Avoid the aisles of candy, salty potato chips and ready made food. Those all spell disaster in the health department. If you think one of those pre-made sandwiches are any better, think again. Look at the ingredient list of those sandwiches. Most likely, they will contain a paragraph or so laden with unpronounceable chemical concoctions. You're best off avoiding these.
Road trips are often coupled with long drives. At times, it may even be necessary to drive late into the night. It's easy to justify downing those energy drinks in exchange for an hour or two of alertness but hold off. Chock full of sugar and other unnatural additives, energy drinks offer zero nutritional value. Absolute zero. You are much better off with a coffee that has little to no sugar, barely any calories and much more caffeine to keep you going. If that doesn't convince you, then here's a little experiment you should try at home. Get some sugar cubes. Count not one, but twenty seven of them. Spread them out on a table, stack them up, do whatever you want. If you think that looks like an absurd amount, then you're right. It is. That is how much sugar is in just one Red Bull. Think on that one for a bit.
This one is a bit of a curve ball, but there is logic behind this. Hunger, while travelling, is the enemy. It is only natural to want to fill that void of despair in your stomach when you start to feel it tremble. That is what our body was trained to do. It is the very nature of this instinctual feeling that causes us to make poor health choices. If we are hungry, we are less likely to think with our minds and more likely to think with our emotions. Pair that with a lack of healthy options on the road, and the majority will tend to fix that emotional need with whatever is around. By eliminating this hunger, we can allow our powerful minds to remain in control of our animalistic instincts. To do this, we must eliminate the feeling of hunger. Snacking on healthy treats throughout the day will do this for us. For the time being, forget what you may have heard that grazing all day is bad for you. Perhaps in an average day in the case, but travelling has its own set of rules. These rules include controlling your hunger and doing so with wholesome, healthy foods throughout the day. You won't even think twice about those mouthwatering ads that litter highways ever again.
What you should eat instead
A growing number of sources may say otherwise, but in the world of travel, breakfast is the most important meal of the day and should not be skipped. Keep it healthy though. A good sized breakfast of lean protein, whole grains and fruit will keep your appetite suppressed for a long period of time thus allowing you to resist the urge to stop for some unhealthy snacks along your faithful journey.
If you want to take the time to pull off and a find a wholesome and healthy meal then be my guest, but for those in a rush, lunch may be best avoided. Instead, stop at any gas station or convenience store and stock up on healthy snacks. Almost all road side shops carry nuts, canned tuna and some kind of fruit. These are by far your best options and just as convenient as that factory produced chicken "wing".
By now you should have made it to your destination, and in that case the world is your oyster for food. Gone are the excuses of the road to opt for the unhealthy. Take your time, put some thought into what you want and ensure you end your day on the right foot of good health. If you are one of the thrill seekers who keeps driving through the night, then do your best to eat wholesome foods, but as the rebel you are, I doubt you'll listen.
What?! Water isn't a meal? No it isn't but it should be consumed before during and after all three of them. Hunger is all too often confused with dehydration. By constantly drinking water you will naturally feel less hungry, therefore less likely to make bad health decisions. As an added bonus, you will need to stop and relieve yourself frequently. This helps you get up and stretch regularly and will aid in overall health.
The curve ball once again comes back. This is no joke, not eating anything is definitely better than eating something extremely unhealthy and in fact, there are many benefits to eating nothing at all. Of course, there should be limits to this to maximize these benefits. What I am referring to is better known as intermittent fasting and it's effects have been proven. Of course, this is not meant for everyone, but if you feel like you can go a day once in awhile without food, give it a try. Especially while travelling. On top of the positive health effects, you can also make up some time on the road by not stopping for food.
Advanced Travel Health Tips
These tips are aimed towards the long-term traveller. Eating out everyday takes time, money and over all, a lot of effort. If you will be out on the road for days, weeks or dare I say months at a time, the following tips are recommended.
- 1The Mobile Refrigerator
- Buy a cooler
- Stock with ice (cheap bags of ice can be bought at many fast food establishments. Just keep it to ice!)
- Go to a nearby grocery store.
- Stock up on perishables (Ideas:: fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, lean meats, Greek yogurt)
- Make some meals at home that can be stored (Ideas: hard boiled eggs, various salads, guacamole)
- Store items in the cooler
- Keep an eye on them so they don't go bad. Your car and friends will thank you.
- 1The Squirrel Method
- Buy individual ziplock bags
- Buy your favorite kind of nuts in bulk from your local grocery store
- Maybe get some seeds too
- While you're at it, get some healthy dried fruits, low on sugar.
- Mix all the ingredients up
- Ration a few handfuls in those trusty ziplock bags
- Use sparingly throughout your trip to ward off hunger and save money
Super Secret Advanced Travel Tips
OK, well this isn't much of a secret, but if you are truly left with no other option than to enter the realm of fast food, I'll leave you with this.
- Healthy options do exist.
- Study up on the nutritional information of your favorite fast food locations before your trip.
- If available, opt for whole wheat bread over white bread. Fortunately, many popular chains are offering this now.
- Go grilled over fried. They are not frying those chicken wings in extra-virgin olive oil.
- What I mean is they're unhealthy oils.
- Eat more chicken! Fast food chicken sure isn't the best, but it's a way better alternative than the red "meat" you'll get at most places.
- Eat small portions. Go for the 6-inch sub instead of the footlong. Try just a single burger instead of the combo meal.
- Water is free, take advantage of it.
- Wendy's and Chipotle are known to have some of the healthier menus of all fast food establishments, so keep an eye out for them.
- You can do it.
Safe and healthy travels!