Healthy Snacking: Tips For Eating On The Road

Tuesday, October 24, 2006 - 1:14pm

By Heidi Reichenberger McIndoo, MS, RD

When packing for day trips or longer vacations, it’s common to forget snack and drinks. Whether you're planning a day at the beach, a weekend in the mountains or a longer road trip, bringing a few simple snack foods and drinks can help improve your fellow travelers’ moods and are a worthwhile investment.

When travelling stock-up on liquids

Drinking enough fluids is always important. In the summer, heat and exercise make liquids crucial for health and cool the body; while in the winter, dry air and heaters make fluids essential to prevent dehydration. Experts recommend eight 8-ounce servings of fluids, especially water (although 100% fruit juices work equally well). Lemonade can be refreshing on a hot day too, but it tends to be high in sugar. Try to limit your intake of beverages con­taining caffeine and alcohol because they increase the body's loss of fluids through urination and can promote dehydration.

Just before you leave on your trip, fill a thermos or insulated sports bottle with your favorite cold drink . It’ll stay chilled for hours and will prevent the temptation of fast food "super-size" sodas or 20 ounce bottles of soda from machines, which are very high in empty calories.

Suggestions for crunchy-chewy snacks

For a salty snack, bring baked tortilla chips, pretzels or whole-grain crackers. If you’re watching your weight, try the new smaller snack packs that come in 100-calorie portions. For a chewier snack, bring some low-fat string cheese and dried fruit, such as raisins, apricots, and cranberries. During the summer months, take advantage of the increased variety of fresh produce available and their reduced prices. Vegetables that travel well include green pepper strips, carrot sticks, celery sticks, cucumber sticks, or broccoli or cauliflower florets.

Healthy snacks to satisfy your sweet tooth

Fruits that travel well include apples, bananas, grapes, peaches, plums, pears and nectarines. In addition, many pre-packaged foods are available in single-serving cups for easy eating, including non-fat and low-fat yogurt, pudding, gelatin, and applesauce. Also, if you enjoy baking, pack some nutritious, homemade muffins or cookie bars.

The benefits of packing your own healthy snacks

Fast food restaurants and vending machines are plentiful at highway rest stops. But relying on these foods can increase your intake of fat, sodium and calories, and decrease vit­amins, minerals and fiber. Easy, great-tasting snacks and drink should be included on trips to help maintain healthy habits and enjoy more variety when eating away from home. With a little advanced planning, you can munch on healthy foods you enjoy, wherever you go.

For more examples of healthy snacks see the following article from TheDietChannel: Snacking: Dietitian's Tip for "Smart" Snacking.