Road warriors may find it tough to eat healthfully — and keep the pounds off. After all, fast-food chains like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Burger King seem to appear at every highway exit, and you may not always have the willpower to choose a salad over a Big Mac. So, what can you do to eat right while you’re traveling? Try these five strategies.
- Take along healthy, non-refrigerated snacks. Roasted nuts, dried fruits, granola bars, and similar foods are easily portable and keep well. These types of snacks are nutritious substitutes for the bags of potato chips you might otherwise grab at a gas station.
- Keep a cooler in your car. Before leaving on a road trip, fill up a cooler with ice and foods such as yogurt, cottage cheese, sliced fresh fruits and veggies, and sandwiches or wraps filled with lean meats and vegetables. If the weather’s decent, keep an eye out for rest stops with picnic areas or other places where you can stretch your legs and enjoy a meal. The ice should keep your food chilled for nearly a full day; stop at a gas station to replenish it as needed.
- Consult Eat This, Not That! Sometimes, fast food is your only option, but that doesn’t mean you need to pig out. This reference book (also available as a mobile app) provides calorie counts for many chain-restaurant menu items and recommends the healthier dishes and variations. For instance, you can save yourself 290 calories at Dunkin’ Donuts by ordering the ham and cheese flatbread sandwich (310 calories) instead of the seemingly virtuous multigrain bagel with strawberry cream cheese (600 calories).
- Stick with breakfast when eating at diners. Whenever you find yourself sitting down for a meal at a truck-stop diner, skip the comfort foods and order an egg-white omelet instead. Go light on the cheese and fill it up with veggies, such as broccoli and tomatoes. If breakfast isn’t on the menu, Health Magazine recommends ordering meatloaf or roast turkey without mashed potatoes and gravy.
- Count calories with a mobile app. If you keep track of your food intake, you may even lose weight while you’re on the road. Download a free calorie-counting app, such as SparkPeople, which will allow you to log your meals and estimate the calories of each item. Keep your intake below the set maximum for your height and weight (as calculated by the app), and the pounds will come off before you know it!