Road Rules! Baptist Dietitian Shares How to Eat Well on the Go

Jan 30 • 2017

We’ve all been there – you’re on a road trip to visit a friend or take a vacation, and as hunger emerges, so too does a fast food exit ramp. But though it might seem impossible to skip the convenience and greasy-goodness of fast food along the highway, Baptist registered dietitian Christy Davis has the tips you need to eat nutritiously while on the move.

What are some simple ways travelers can prepare, to help them eat healthier on the road?

There are many convenient healthy [travel snacks] to take on a road trip, such as whole fruit like apples, bananas, or even fruit pouches. Vegetables such as carrots, celery, and cucumbers are also great to snack on and do not require refrigeration. If you are craving something salty, rice cakes, popcorn, or pretzels are crunchy snacks that don’t pack in too many calories when compared to potato chips or French fries. Need a suggestion for protein? Try some peanut butter or other nut butter on you’re your fruit. If you can pack a small cooler, string cheese and deli meats are a great snack or meal for the road. Don’t forget bottled water to stay hydrated.

If people do have to stop for fast food along the way, what are some tips for choosing the healthiest options?

“Fast” food is [often] inevitable, especially if you are on the go or traveling throughout the week. In my opinion, many places have gotten much better [about offering] healthier options, such as grilled chicken sandwiches, a variety of salads, baked potatoes, side salads, and fruit available for sides instead of fries. Deli sandwiches can be a healthier alternative to a burger joint, but I still caution people with the higher calorie items such as bacon, extra cheese, and mayo.

Another great suggestion is to plan ahead – know what establishments are on your trip. Don’t request a larger size – most “small” drinks or fries are actually the size of a large several years ago. If you must get something fried or greasy, try to alternate your entrée or side. For example, if you are craving that fried chicken sandwich, select a healthier side item such as a side salad or fruit. If you must have the French fries, choose a grilled sandwich or burger without added cheese and bacon.

What are some of your favorite healthy travel snacks to make and bring on a long car trip?

I really like salty snacks, so rice cakes and veggie straws are a favorite. I also like taking grapes, apples, and fruit pouches, like applesauce, because they are easy to eat and filling – along with a few cheese sticks. I’m not a huge water drinker, so I like to bring several bottles or cans of sparkling water because I like carbonation. It’s much better than drinking a high calorie soda. When I travel, I typically look for a deli shop so I can get a turkey sandwich with lite mayo and load up on any and all the veggies. I skip the chips and drink because I’ve brought my own in the car.

What are your go-to travel snacks for the car that don’t stack on the calories? Share them with us in the comments.