Healthy Snacks for the Road

Healthnotes Newswire (July 16, 2009)—School’s out, the sun is shining, and the open road beckons. When you take off to parts unknown this summer, don’t leave your good eating habits behind. Staying healthy while traveling means you can enjoy the trip even more once you arrive at your destination.

Protein and fat: a happy couple

Whether you’re cobbling together a series of minimeals between taxis and airport stops, or having a long leisurely lunch on the train, build your repast with the protein-carbohydrate-fat triad. Protein and fat take longer to digest, providing you with extra staying power, while carbohydrates provide much-needed energy to prolong your travel stamina. Keep in mind that sitting on a train or car or on an airplane demands much less energy than your daily work-a-day activities, so listen to your body’s needs and eat only when hungry.

• At home, prep bite-sized hunks of cheese, hard-boiled eggs, and edamame (cooked soybeans)

• Buy ready-made single-serving yogurts, protein-rich energy bars, and packs of nuts and seeds

• Pack perishables in a small cooler

Carb(s)—not a four-letter word

Your journey won’t be complete without a carry-on of carbs. “Carbohydrates,” says Elson Haas, MD, author of Staying Healthy with Nutrition, “are a quick source of energy for the body, easily converted to glucose, the fuel for the body’s cells.” Make your carbohydrates complex (not refined) by choosing whole-grain pretzels, crackers, cereal, and tortillas, and whole fruits and vegetables.

For fiber, vitamins, and minerals, as well as color for your menu, fruits and vegetables make ideal travel mates.

• Pack fruits that don’t bruise easily, such as apples, grapes, pears, and cherry tomatoes

• Dried fruit—raisins, apricots, pineapple, mango, papaya, and so on—pack a punch with minerals and fiber

• Tuck into an assortment of sugar snap peas, cucumber spears, and carrot and celery sticks with a side order of salad dressing, hummus, or black bean dip for an abundance of antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins

• For a treat, make your own trail mix with nuts, seeds, dried apples, raisins, dates, chocolate or carob chips, and low-sugar, high-fiber cereal

This trove will come in handy if you find yourself out of food and in the midst of a long layover at the airport or at the tail end of a long drive. (Don’t forget to keep wipes on hand for sticky fingers.)

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

Nip dehydration in the bud by drinking lots of water before you embark on your journey and by avoiding alcohol and caffeinated beverages while en route. Make water a constant travel companion or sip decaffeinated teas or fruit juice mixed with bubbly water.

Kathleen Finn is a writer and marketing consultant for The Natural Word. She specializes in natural health, food, and fitness material, and has worked on staff at Delicious! Magazine and written for Yoga Journal, Spa Magazine, Natural Foods Merchandiser, and Nutrition Science News. She holds a master's degree in Journalism from University of Colorado in Boulder.

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