Longer days and warmer temperatures can mean only one thing: it's time for a road trip! Like backyard barbeques on the 4th of July, the great American road trip is a long-standing summertime tradition. And while the call of the open road feels great, the reality is, road food options aren't always the healthiest.
But you don't have to let your travel snack choices add on pounds. If you stick to a few simple guidelines, you can have a healthy, diet-friendly road trip this summer. Here are our tips to help make your next highway adventure a little leaner.
Fresh Fruit and Veggies
Assuming the gas station or convenience store looks clean and safe, the best options to grab are fresh fruit or prepackaged fruit cups (just be sure to choose the ones packed in water, not syrup), salads to go or any fresh veggies.
Low-fat string cheese is another good option because they typically come in single-serving packages (helps to slow down any potential gorging). Also, if you're going to eat it fairly soon after purchasing, low-fat yogurt is a good snack; high in protein and calcium and low in calories. Just don't let it sit around too long before eating.
All Natural Protein/Granola Bars
Snack bars are a good choice: easy to eat, minimal mess and can sit around for awhile before consuming. However, "all natural" is the key here. Many bars are just glorified candy bars. Be sure you can read and understand all the ingredients. Lara, Luna and Clif bars are all safe choices.
When these aren't on the menu:
Despite their bad rap, there is plenty of evidence that nuts should be a part of a healthy diet. They are high in fiber, vitamin E, and contain the 'good' fat. There are so many varieties of nuts, but some of the top health choices are: walnuts, almonds, macadamias, pistachios, and hazelnuts. And for another variety, you can go the seed route: always great on long drives, sunflower seeds are a great low calorie treat (just be sure to choose the unsalted, unflavored variety).
Long the staple of road warriors everywhere. Most chip varietys pack on the saturated fat and insane amounts of salt. If you are just dying for some chips, choose the baked variety. They come in lots of great flavors are much lower in calories and fat than regular chips.
Trail mix can be a healthy snack, but you have to be careful and read the package before you buy: not all mixes are created equal. For example, traditional Chex Mix is about 120 calories per serving but contains the controversial additive BHT and higher levels of trans-fats. While Planter's Trail Mix has the same amount of calories per serving, but not nearly as many additives. Avoid the mixes that include chocolate candy. And always look at the label before you make your choice and go with natural ingredients like nuts, seeds and dried fruits.
Pretzels are a great crunchy snack option. Low in fat and calories, plain pretzels are a healthy snack; they are low in cholesterol and sugar. But as always be sure to read the package and choose the plain flavor not the honey-mustard or chocolate covered option.
Munching on candy while in the car can be irresistible, but while a Snicker's may "satisfy you," a 2.07 oz. bar packs a 280 empty calorie punch. If you must have something sweet (and sometimes it is inevitable) dried fruit is your best option. While dried fruit has more calories and less fiber than fresh fruit, it's still always a much better choice than a candy bar.
Slim Jim's. Even though it is packed with protein, most jerky has over 20% of daily saturated fat and contains nitrates. DTG Tip: You can get your salt fix with nuts or look for natural buffalo or turkey jerky.
Poptarts. A single serving (one tart, not both in the package) contains over 400 calories and 10 grams of fat. DTG Tip: Instead, look for Fig Newtons or a low-fat granola bar.
Hot Dog/Nachos. The gas station hot dog only has 310 calories, but that includes over 7 grams of saturated fat (16 grams of fat in total!) and over 800 mg of sodium. Nachos are even more frightening with around 600 calories per serving and the fat content...unimaginable. DTG Tip: Steer clear of these altogether.
Happy road tripping!
Author: Lillie Lancaster