Just in time for your next road trip, this article covers some Registered Dietitian tips for how to manage eating while on the go, particularly on road trips.
You may find it easier to keep healthy in the summer with the delicious selection of seasonal produce available and warm temperatures to get outside and keep active. But, you may also find it more difficult to stay healthy this summer with more holiday plans that can interrupt good habits.
Here are some Registered Dietitian ideas to help keep your family road trips FUN and healthy at the same time:
How often should I eat?
Use what I have coined The Timing Technique – eat every 3-5 hours.
While you don’t necessarily need to have a snack in order to be healthy, waiting too long in between meals usually ends up in disaster (for both hangry passengers and sleepy drivers) and often leads to overeating later in the day. Choose to have a snack if it will be longer than three to five hours before you will eat again. For satiety and satisfaction aim for a snack that has both carbohydrates and protein.
What are the most common snack challenges while road tripping?
The 3 most common challenges with road trip snacking is:
- Leaving in a rush and failing to pack healthy options
- Solution: Even if you are planning on eating meals out on the road at the very least a cooler with water and some of the healthy snack ideas listed below such as nuts, fresh or dried fruit, air popped popcorn, pre-portioned cheese and raw veggies such as cherry tomatoes, snap peas or carrot sticks.
- Mindless munching due to boredom and trying to unwind
- Solution: If you often crave savoury foods then put together individual snack packages of raw veggies and pretzel sticks dipped in hummus. If you often crave sweet foods put together a container of fruit such as grapes, blueberries, strawberries or apricots and dip them in yogurt.
- Bottomless supersized bags of sweet and savoury foods
- Solution: Most people eat packages, not portions. Buy single unit items to frame a smaller end point (or pre-portion small bags or containers of hard to manage foods purchased in large family size packages before you leave). This works really well for chips, candy, nuts and trail mix.
Can I still enjoy my favorite junk food?
I live by the mantra that you can eat anything, just not everything – it is all about choices.
If you love crunchy potato chips as snacks on road trips or some other favorite soulful food chosen for taste instead of nutrition – no problem BUT be choosey. Make choices based on what you really love and consider non-negotiable. Road trips that involve fast food for lunch, endless supplies of junk food in the car and then showing up at your destination for vacations filled with lots of alcohol and more junk food for a week can certain add up.
What is really worth it? Get clear on what you love and skip over the other items that are eaten because someone else has them in the car or simply because you were just not thinking about the best opportunities coming up later that day or later in the week.
For my family, there is often more mid-day happy hour cocktails and savoury snacks in the afternoon or evening on vacation so I do my best to plan really nutritious options for the early part of the day to balance this out.
What are some ideas for healthy road trip snacks?
20 Dietitian Recommended Road Trip Snack Ideas:
- Whole-wheat pita bread and hummus with celery sticks.
- Multigrain crackers, pre-portioned packages of cheese and cherry tomatoes.
- Take a smoothie in a travel mug for the car (blend together yogurt, frozen berries, banana and unsweetened juice or milk).
- Dry ready-to-eat breakfast cereal mixed with dried fruit (such as raisins, dried cranberries, dates, figs, prunes and dried apricots) as well as mixed shelled nuts or seeds (such as peanuts, almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds). Other popular additions include pretzels, popcorn, crackers and chocolate chips.
- Roasted chickpeas (bought or homemade) or roasted lentils/other pulses. Try our recipe here: Roasted Spicy Chickpeas
- Oatmeal date squares and yogurt. Try my family favorite recipe posted here on Instagram: Oatmeal Date Squares
- Raw veggies such as grape/cherry tomatoes, carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, snow/snap peas with dip or hummus.
- Bran muffin and cheddar cheese with grapes.
- Greek salad, marinated vegetable salad or pasta salad (these travel well)
- Pack or buy a yogurt parfait with yogurt, berries (or alternatively try fresh or canned unsweetened pineapple or peaches) and granola.
- Containers of drained mini bocconcini (fresh mozzarella cheese) and grape/cherry tomatoes. Just bring toothpicks, a fork or eat with your hands.
- Cold leftover pancakes or French toast with peanut butter or cream cheese and jam.
- Individual containers of cottage cheese, yogurt or dessert tofu and fresh fruit.
- Hard boiled eggs and whole wheat crackers.
- Banana bread, banana muffins or carrot muffins and cubes of cheese.
- Mini pizzas made with mini whole wheat bagels or pita bread and tomato sauce, meat, veggies and cheese.
- Homemade air-popped popcorn with butter, coconut oil or olive oil and a pinch of salt.
- Try this recipe for a nutritious family favorite: Health Geek Cookie
- Enjoy my award-winning recipe for these Cocoa Energy Bars
- Make our top ranked recipe for Nutty Chocoholic Balls
WATCH my previous TV interview on healthy snacks for road trips here:
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