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Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Travel


Insulated bags and plastic containers packed with healthy foodsRoad food

Linda Rellergert, MS, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, St. Charles County, University of Missouri Extension

Summer often includes travel as families head off on vacation. Whether traveling by plane, train or car, leaving food choices to chance can mean paying a high price in terms of health as well as cash. While packing for your trip, give a few moments thought to eating well along the way so you can be prepared.

1. Take it with you. By bringing along your own snacks and possibly even meals, you will be certain to have food you and your family want to eat, when you want to eat.

  • Keep food safety in mind when choosing foods to carry with you. A cooler full of food is great for car trips, but impractical for public transportation. On planes, trains or buses, an insulated bag with a cold pack keeps perishables like meat, hard-cooked eggs and vegetable salads fresh and safe to eat for several hours.
  • Vacations are a good time to do things a bit out of the ordinary. A picnic breakfast fits that criterion, especially if the driver likes to get an early start while passengers sleep. Take along traditional breakfast fare like cereal and juice or more portable options like muffins and fresh fruit.
  • Fresh fruits and veggies make great snacks as well as companions for sandwiches, even those you pick up at fast food restaurants. Make sure all are washed and ready to eat. Bite-sized veggies like cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, celery and sweet pepper sticks are obvious choices. Grapes, apples, cherries and blueberries are sweet and easy to eat. Dried fruit like raisins, apricots and peaches are drip-free and tasty.

2. Pick it up along the way. A bit of looking can reveal healthful choices at convenience stores on the road or in airports.

  • Water, juice and milk are better choices than soft drinks for staying well hydrated. Be sure to take along bottled water when flying as recycled cabin air tends to be rather dry and the beverage cart may take a while to get to your section.
  • Look beyond the candy bars and bags of chips for granola bars, nuts and trail mix. Watch portion sizes, though; these snacks are nutritious but rather high in calories as well. Take out a reasonable amount and put the remainder out of sight and out of mind.

3. Stop and stock up at a supermarket. Even small communities are likely to have a grocery store where you can pick up road food with greater variety and value than restaurants. You’ll also get a taste of local life along with your groceries.

  • Pick up sandwich fixings or even the sandwiches themselves at the deli counter. Salads and sides may also be available to round out the meal.
  • Bagels, whole grain crackers and rolls are sturdy enough to travel well and serve as sandwich bases or snack.
  • Salad bars offer a wide variety of washed, ready-to-eat fruits and vegetables in addition to salads and soups.
  • Many snack foods are high in fat, sugar or both. Choices like pretzels, rice cakes, popcorn, baked chips and graham crackers can stave off hunger pangs in a more healthful way.


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Last update: Wednesday, July 08, 2015