On road trips, it can be easy to stop at gas station convenience stores and fast-food drive-thrus when your stomach starts to growl. But the sweet and salty food at these places can make you want to eat too much, which will make you feel bad in the long run. According to research in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, these processed foods can send your blood sugar skyrocketing, only for it to drop sharply not long after. This can make you feel tired. Not exactly what you want when you’re trying to drive safely and keep your mind on the road.
Cordialis Msora-Kasago, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Los Angeles and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, says, “It’s so easy to eat the whole bag of chips or brightly colored candy when you’re bored and there’s nothing but the highway in front of you.”
Instead of throwing a bag of chips and a package of gummy bears into the back seat, you may have to do a little prep work to pack healthy snacks for your road trip. Here, we’ll show you how to do it.
How to Pack Healthy Snacks for a Road Trip.
Caroline West Passerrello, RDN, a registered dietitian and nutritionist in Pittsburgh and another spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, says, “Plan like you would pack your clothes.” Passerrello says that when you plan your snacks, you should think about what you like to eat and how long you plan to be on the road. Think about what’s most important to you, whether it’s health, convenience, cost, or a mix of these.
There is nothing wrong with putting in a favorite snack that isn’t very healthy. You just need to remember to be moderate. Msora-Kasago says, “It’s fine to have a bag of chips in your snack stash as long as you also have a lot of colorful fruits and vegetables.”
And, of course, there are some foods that don’t travel well. “Nothing ruins a great road trip faster than getting food poisoning and having to use the bathroom at a gas station,” says Msora-Kasago. “If you have to bring foods that could make you sick, like eggs, chicken, tuna, and yogurt, make sure you put them in a cooler that will keep bacteria away.”
Passerrello gives one more tip for planning healthy road trip snacks: make sure they are easy to get to. If you put them deep in the trunk, you won’t be able to get to them when you need them, which might make you want to stop at the gas station for fast food or packaged snacks.
Healthy Snacks for a Road Trip
On your next road trip, try some of these 10 snacks.
“I’m not talking about your father’s beef jerky,” says Brenda Braslow, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist for MyNetDiary in Denver. You can choose from beef, turkey, or salmon in different flavors. They all have similar amounts of nutrients, but the amounts can vary from brand to brand. Some brands of all kinds have more sodium, protein, and fat than others, so read the labels carefully before you buy. If you are on a plant-based diet, mushroom jerky is a chewy snack that doesn’t contain any animal products.
Blueberries are a good snack to take on the road in the summer. Plus, they are very healthy. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says that a cup of blueberries has about 85 calories and less than half a gram of fat. You’ll also get 3.6 grams (g) of dietary fiber and 14.6 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C, making them a good source of the nutrient. “Blueberries are easy to eat on the go, are very healthy, and have just the right amount of sweetness and sourness. Braslow says, “Wash them, let them dry completely, and then bag them so they are ready to go as the perfect snack for a road trip.” Don’t forget to put them in a cooler to keep them from going bad.
3.Cheese for snacks
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say you can freeze these if you need them to last for a whole day, but they’ll be fine for about two hours (CDC). The USDA says that one 28 g stick of low-moisture part-skim mozzarella cheese from Polly-O has 80 calories, 7 g of protein, and 150 mg of calcium, making it a good source.
4.Fresh Veggie Strips
Msora-Kasago says that sliced bell pepper strips, carrots, celery, and cucumbers are good choices for a healthy snack that is low in calories. The USDA says that a cup of sliced red bell peppers is a great source of vitamin C, with 118 mg per cup. Put them in a cooler so they stay cool and crisp. This will make them more appealing when you’re looking for a snack.
Kathy Isacks, RDN, CDCES, a registered dietitian and nutritionist for MyNetDiary in Denver, says that grapes travel well and are easy to pack. They are also a healthy snack. The USDA says that 100 grams (g) of red or green grapes have less than 70 calories and that 1 cup of grapes is a good source of vitamin K and has some potassium. Wash a bunch of grapes, put them in a bag or something with a lid, and eat them. One thing to keep in mind: if you’re packing snacks for little kids, whole grapes can be a choking hazard, so you might want to cut them up or choose something else.
Nuts have a lot of nutrients, but they also have a lot of calories, so watch your serving sizes. For example, Harvard Health Publishing says that one serving of almonds (about 14 cup, or 23 nuts) can have anywhere from 160 to 200 calories. The USDA says that 1 ounce (oz) of almonds has 164 calories, 14.2 g of fat, 6 g of protein, 6 g of carbohydrates, and 3.5 g of fiber, which is a good source.
7.Nut Butter Packets
The USDA says that nut butters can be made from almond, cashew, peanut, walnut, or a mix of these nuts. Passerrello says that nut butter can travel well if it is already put into pouches. Just knead and squeeze the pouch. They can be a good source of protein, and some of them don’t have any sugar or salt. Passerrello didn’t name a specific product, but one kind of almond butter that doesn’t have any added sugar is Yumbutter. Each 2-tablespoon (tbsp) serving has 4 g of fiber, which is a good source, and 7 g of protein. As with whole nuts, nut butter is high in fat and calories, so eat it in moderation.
When it comes to dried fruit, you have a lot of choices, from raisins and cranberries to mango, pineapple, and apricots. Dried fruit doesn’t take up much space and doesn’t make a mess. A recent study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that dried fruit can give you a lot of nutrients, like potassium and fiber, depending on what you choose. Want to get the most out of your money in terms of nutrition? According to research, you should choose dates or figs. One thing to think about is whether or not you’ll eat a lot of dried fruit quickly and not realize how many calories you’ve eaten. Passerrello says, “Dried fruit is dense.” “[Cup for cup], it has more sugar and fiber, so you should watch how much you eat.
Make your own air-popped popcorn bags to take with you on the road. The American Heart Association says it is a whole grain, and the USDA says that 2 cups of unsalted air-popped popcorn have about 2.4 grams of fiber, which can help you feel full for longer. Polyphenols, which are antioxidants, are also in the snack. But cut back on the salt and maybe use an oil that is better for your heart than butter.
10.Mix of trails
Passerrello suggests eating a healthy mix of whole grains, dried fruit, and nuts and seeds. Choose one thing from each group and mix them. Passerrello says, “It doesn’t have to cost a lot.” “It has to be what you’re going to eat.” Again, nuts and dried fruit have a lot of nutrients, but they also have a lot of calories, so watch how much you eat.
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