Summer vacations are here and so are the long and sometimes dreaded road trips. Regardless if your children are toddlers or teens, keeping road trips healthy is always a challenge. Typical road trip food consists of convenience store calorie laden cuisine such as chips, sodas and candy. Simply, a 16 ounce soda, bag of chips and a candy bar can add up to over 1,100 calories. That is more than ½ of a person’s daily calorie needs provided just from a few snacks. Couple that with long hours of sitting in a car and this this can wreak havoc on your daily physical activity and nutritional needs.
The key to healthy road trips is planning. Here is a road trip survival list:
- One small cooler for drinks and food – load it with frozen sugar free ice teas, flavored waters, juices and bottled water.
- Foods to put in the cooler:
- Fruits and veggies that are easy to eat – snack bags of baby carrots, pea pods, celery, bit size tomatoes (yellow are the best), sliced apples, grapes, cherries, berries, bananas and dried fruit
- Low-fat beef jerky
- Low-fat mozzarella cheese sticks
- Foods that don’t need a cooler:
- Rice cakes
- Granola bars
- Peanut butter sandwiches
- Wet naps/towelettes for spills
- Tennis shoes/Hiking boots – all children should have tennis shoes or hiking boots o the ready in the car for quick scenic hikes that break up the long days of driving
- Electronic Paraphernalia – everything from iPods, iPads, DVD’s to video games. They will thank you in years to come for sparing them from listening to their parents sing 70’s and 80’s tunes.
- Coloring and drawing books. Yes, even teenagers will resort to drawing. Remember to pick up the color crayons from the car floor if going to a hot environment.
- Pillows, lots of pillows
- Last but not least, parental patience.
If you must stop at a fast food establishment, here are some great under 200 calorie sweet treat options:
- McDonald’s: Fruit and yogurt parfaits or a reduced fat vanilla ice cream cone
- Dairy Queen: Soft serve ice cream, fudge bars, vanilla orange bars or StarKiss bars
- Wendy’s: Junior frosty
Some of my favorite family memories occurred while on road trips, so take advantage of being trapped with your children for long hours at a time. This is a great family sharing time and time for a lot of laughs.
Note: this article was written while on a road trip with five hungry teenagers and one health savvy mom!