Let us take a step back to the days of our youth,
The trip to Durban took place twice a year when I was growing up. There was no highway , it was a narrow single carriageway. The only stop for fuel was in Montrose otherwise you would have to leave the main road and detour into a small town.
We never bought food as Mom packed an impressive variety of rissoles, pork sausages, boiled eggs, tomato sandwiches and roast chicken. Dad was not one to waste time on the side of the road so we ate in the car. There was always enough food for breakfast ( we used to leave around 0400 ) lunch and even a bit over when we arrived at our destination. Somehow the coffee in a flask always tasted special. Even as a kid.
Fast forward to current times.
On a road trip food remains a primary concern, with the plethora of mainline fuel stations all with restaurants and fast food chains, kids love stopping for burgers, sandwiches, chicken and a variety of other treats such as fizzy drinks and crisps.
Over the years I have learnt the importance of healthy eating on a road trip, I may stop for coffee and a sandwich or a cooked breakfast but never forget sparkling water in the car.
The fast food outlets have even changed their focus and offer a selection of healthier fare. This improves every time I travel even at the well-known chain outlets offer great breakfast bowls with more protein than carbs.
Let’s discuss a few guiding principles for eating on a long trip. Remember you want to eat in a way that does not affect your waistline while travelling.
But you must hit your protein goal and cut your carbs. Protein builds lean muscle but it also satisfies you. Because you are behind the steering wheel and less active cut the calories and fat so consume fewer carbs and fat.
You can still treat yourself to the occasional burger or toasted sandwich especially if you are driving through the night or early in the morning. Road trip “junk food “ does not have to be ruled out, but calories should be reduced due to inactivity. So fewer carbs and fat with more protein. That allows you to enjoy at least one cheeseburger or road trip breakfast.
In the long run, you won’t eat as healthily as you would at home. There may be healthy options but one has to question freshness and preparation. Home-cooked is still the best. As a rule focus on eating healthy at least 80% of the trip and have 20% road trip junk to keep you going.
Fresh food can be packed in a cooler or fridge especially if you are deviating from mainline routes. In this case, you may have difficulty finding a chain fast food outlet. Yet I have often had better meals in a local cafe or coffee shop.
So what should you look for in terms of healthier “on the go” options that will keep you satisfied as well? I always travel with a flask of tea or coffee sweetened with honey. If I get a takeaway and no honey is available I will drink it unsweetened.
So how you define “healthy’ Is up to you. It depends on your food philosophy. Never neglect fibre as it is filling. Opt for whole wheat bread as opposed to white bread.
Look to protein shakes and water rather than fizzy drinks, you can even throw a few protein shakes or smoothies into the cooler. Alternatively, take some whey protein and a shaker. A good alternative is to pack a few protein bars as opposed to chocolate bars. You can get these at most service stations. You still need some carbs though so eat a few pretzels or crisps as you drive, and look for a low-calorie option low in fat. Paired with biltong or dried sausage they make a tasty snack. Opt for drier versions with less fat, it’s still tasty.
What can one add to make an enjoyable travel experience? Fruit and snack-able veggies are a must. Either pack them or look for a service station that has a chain grocery store. Apples and bananas work for me as well as sliced Kiwi fruit. Nuts and trail mix also hit the spot as they are very satisfying. And the sweet and salty combo works well, plus it’s a protein and fibre combination.
If I have not packed a meal I look for healthy options like wraps and sandwiches. Here I also look for the most protein and add fruit and some pretzels or healthy crisps.
A great protein-rich option is chicken grilled, not deep fried in batter.
It’s possible to travel healthily and not arrive at your destination feeling bloated and uncomfortable. Enjoy the trip and eat well!
Lastly taking a spork ( Fork, spoon and knife ) saves on plastic cutlery and benefits the environment.