Road Trip Anyone? Tips for Eating Healthy when your Choices are few and far between.

Summer fun most always includes a road trip, but along with it comes food you'd never think about eating at home.  Chips, candy, slushies, and a McDonald's at every mile marker are what you are faced with. After, you've spent the entire spring getting ready for shorts and that new bathing suit had to have.  However, with a little smart packing and a good plan you can eat healthy no matter what your limited choices maybe.

If your only option is a ....

Gas Station: Food that has an expiration date (one that hasn't passed!) is usually much healthier than any shelf-stable food that is loaded with preservatives.  Head to the refrigerator case for sting cheese or yogurt, orange juice, or unsweetened iced tea.  If nothing here sounds appealing, grab some individual-size bags of dried fruit, nuts or whole-wheat crackers.

Highway Rest Stop: If you are lucky enough to find a Starbucks, skip the Mocha Frappuccino, and order a iced or hot coffee so you can control the amount of sugar and cream added. (Or go for a nonfat latte, with less the 100 calories.)  Lunch plates with fruit and cheese, pasta salad or a wrap are great choices that keep you in the 300-390 calorie range.  Breakfast options are great too. Whole-wheat wraps with eggs, oatmeal, or a yogurt parfait will give you a healthy, energy packed meal.

Fast Food: Many fast food chains offer salads with protein as a healthier option to pick from.  For example, McDonald's Premium Chicken Salad with Grilled Chicken or Wendy's Mandarin Chicken Salad both have around 200 calories.  Remember, order low-fat dressing, most regular salad dressing have about double the calories.  The key to keeping a salad healthy and light is keeping the crispy chicken and cheese off, with these two ingredients added you can end up eating as many calories as a Whopper or a Big Mac.  If you just have to have french fries, remember, portion control, and indulge in a small fry with about 230 calories.

Italian or Pizza: Marinara sauce is low in fat and made up mostly with tomatoes and spices, so it offers a dose of nutrients and vitamins.  Order a small bowl of pasta with marinara sauce and a small green salad(low-fat dressing of course), and enjoy!  Pasta primavera made with broth and not cream is a great option as well. Pay attention to how large a single portion may be, if it could feed a family of four, ask for a half order, or an extra plate and transfer a smaller amount to the plate and just eat that.  If pizza is your vice, skip the pepperoni, sausage, and meatball toppings, go for fresh veggies(broccoli, peppers, or extra tomatoes) instead.

A Mexican Chain: Taco Bell is open late!! So you are sure to run into one of these. Stay away from anything that goes crrrrunch.  Tacos that are made of soft corn tortillas are a smarter choice.  Tortillas should be filled with grilled chicken, fish, veggies, or shrimp, opt for black or pinto beans, salsa, lettuce, tomatoes, and onions.  Skip the sour cream and cheese, replace these with guacamole-avocado contains heart-healthy monounsaturated  fats.

A Sandwich Chain: Sandwiches are easy to customize from the bread up.  Choose whole-wheat bread, add turkey, ham, or grilled chicken, and as many vegetables as you can stand.  Skip the mayo which can add 80 calories and 9 grams of fat, add tangy oil and vinegar or a spicy mustard instead.  Never pick the Italian calorie-busting subs with pepperoni and salami, these are loaded with sodium and who wants to carry around extra water weight while on vacation.

The best option BYO...(Food,That Is) Pack a cooler with bottles of water, baby carrots, grapes, apples and blueberries. For a protein boost, pack cheese sticks, hummus packs, and drinkable yogurts.  Bananas, tail mix, granola bars, and 100-calorie packs of crackers all travel well outside the cooler.

I wish everyone a safe and fun vacation.  Use these tips so that your vacation splurges can be used when you get where your going, don't arrive feeling like you have already gained 5 pounds.  Have a great time.


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