Healthy Eating on a Road Trip

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How do you eat healthy on a road trip?

As you can imagine as a travel company owner I travel.  A lot.  Or at least I used to before the “Rona” came along and single handedly screeched global travel to a halt.  None the less during our move to Alaska I will be “on the road” during a pandemic which will likely include a lot of drive thrus. Thus, eating healthy on the road has never been so challenging.

I have multiple autoimmune disorders to include rheumatoid arthritis.  Anyone suffering from autoimmune disease knows diet can make an enormous difference in preventing flares and living a normal life.  I  am not a health freak.  I do indulge in junk food every now and again.  I have no resistance against Marshmallow Peeps and McRib sandwiches, but in between these rare indulgences I typically eat ten servings of fruits and veggies a day.  It makes an enormous difference in how I feel and I want to feel my best while travelling.  And really, even if you don’t suffer from chronic disease not eating healthy on the road can cause serious problems as well. 

Our best tips and tricks for healthy snacking on a road trip……

  • Stock up on long lasting fresh fruit and have a “fruit basket” in the car.  (Apples, firm pears and slightly green bananas work well)
  • Nuts!  Nuts are loaded with fiber and healthy fat to keep you full and satisfied
  • Bring a large bag of homemade popcorn for salty cravings.  Making it yourself ensures it’s popped in a limited amount of high quality oil and lightly salted. 
  • Stay hydrated.  We always keep gallon size bottled water in the car and refill our water bottles when we stop. We also like sparkling water so we usually will get a case of that as well. 

When it comes to meals rest area options can be limited so we always try to eat local when we have the time or find a rest area with better fast food options.

Some of our top fast food picks for staying healthy on the road include….

  • Panera (this is our number one choice for fast food)
  • Starbucks (the larger Starbucks usually have some food)
  • Au Bon Pain (tons of salad options)
  • Chipotle (Get the brown rice and lots of veggies)
  • Panda Express (usually loaded with sodium, but if you order plain beef and broccoli with rice and veggies you are in pretty good shape)
  • Wendy’s (they have baked potatoes and chili and their salads are usually fresh)
  • Taco Bell (Shocking, I know, but really their Fresco menu isn’t so bad)

Sometimes though none of my favorite options are available so I stick to the following guidelines in order to stay healthy on the road……

  • Go for wraps rather than sandwiches if possible. 
  • Only order a salad if the fast food restaurant is packed.  Let’s face it salad isn’t the number one option on most people’s minds when they eat fast food and eating a salad that is slightly past it’s prime not only tastes bad, but it can make you sick.
  • If you do want a sandwich choose a grilled chicken option with lettuce and tomato holding the sauces.  You can add a little condiments on your own, but this way you are in control. 
  • Look for oatmeal at breakfast time and ask them to hold the toppings. 
  • Remember fast food yogurt is usually teeming with sugar.  You might be better off getting an egg and ham sandwich.   You can skip the bread and just eat the protein. 

Pro Tip: As a back up, I typically use what I call “healthy eating insurance” while on a road trip.  I use a healthy supplement and drink a smoothie before each meal.  I have used Kencko in the past and this time I will be trying Your Super to stay healthy on the road.  It’s always best to get your food as close to the way God made it as possible, but when on a road trip superfood supplements that ensure you get the micronutrients you need will go a long way to making up for the inevitable burger and fries. 

On a final note realize that even when you follow these tips your diet will suffer. Even “healthy” food on a road trip is not going to have the fiber and nutrients of homemade. You can dwell on it and worry or you can just let yourself indulge a bit. Stress isn’t great for health and well being either. A burger and fries every once in a while won’t kill you!

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About Mary

Mary Stephens holds a degree in international affairs from Georgetown University and a Masters in Teaching from the American University. Mary spent almost twenty years homeschooling her four children and is now navigating post homeschool life in Alaska. She offers personal insights, recipes, homeschooling tips and tricks and travel advice on her website penciltreks.com. Mary also owns Christopher Travel, a luxury travel company specializing in exquisite vacations around the globe.

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