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Eating on the road: How to choose healthy snacks

Posted on by Janelle Glick, MS, RD, LDN


Vacations often present roadblocks to staying on track with healthy eating and exercising...but they don’t have to.

Most stops along the highway offer a mix of fast-food restaurants, truck stops, and gas stations. Airports are typically loaded with lots of unhealthy fare as well.

Packing your own is the best choice but may not always be a possibility. Learning to find the healthiest options while traveling to your destination means you start your trip on a healthy foot and set the stage for the fun times ahead.

Fortunately, when I recently traveled I was pleasantly surprised by some of the offerings at rest stops and gas stations along the way. Here are some things to look for as you hit the road.

Bigger is better

I'm not referring to portion sizes! Try to seek out larger chain gas stations or rest stops because they'll be more likely to offer healthy options or made-to-order sandwiches or salads.

Finding fresh foods

Many stops have a cold case where you can find fresh, healthy foods. Look for cut veggies and fruit cups, hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, whole pieces of fresh fruit, cheese sticks, and salads.

Reaching for something with some protein, like the eggs, cheese, or yogurt, along with the fiber in the fresh fruits and veggies, will help keep you feeling full for longer.

Crunch with nuts

If you feel the need for something with crunch, try picking up a small bag of nuts. Nuts have protein and fiber along with some healthy fats.

It can be easy to overdo the calories with nuts so opt for nuts in the shell—that way it will take you longer to eat them and will also satisfy the need to keep yourself busy. Many places offer small bags of pistachios or peanuts in the shell.

Watch what you drink

Most rest stops will offer a wide array of beverages and a large percentage of them will contain unhealthy amounts of sugar.

Water should be your first choice, but V8 vegetable juice is another healthy option, especially since vegetable servings may be scarce otherwise. Look for low-sodium, but even the regular is fine in a pinch. If you want something with flavor and fizz, try seltzer water that has a fruit flavor.

How to pick an energy bar

Granola or energy bars are another popular snack option because they’re tasty, convenient, and travel well. Be sure to look at the labels as some are more like candy bars.

Ideally, a snack bar should have fewer than 200 calories and be made with whole grains, nuts, and dried fruit. Look for something with more than 3 grams of protein and fiber so it will be a little more filling.

Dried fruits will up the amount of sugar, but some of it will be naturally occurring. Stick to a bar with fewer than 10 to 20 grams of sugar. Pair a bar with a piece of fresh fruit or some cut veggies to make it a more well-rounded snack or light meal.

What do you like to snack on while traveling?

 | Community Health & Wellness

Janelle Glick, MS, RD, LDN, is a dietitian with Lancaster General Health Community Health. Glick holds a B.S. in Nutrition and Dietetics from Messiah College and a M.A. in Nutrition Education from Immaculata University. Her special areas of interest include weight management and health coaching.

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