While you’re on your weight loss journey, the thought of having to make a long car journey and the inevitable pit stops on the way are enough to make you want to put the brakes on and stay at home, where you’re far more in control of portion sizes and calories. However, an important part of any weight loss journey is to learn to live with the obstacles that life throws us without losing focus of your goals, so don’t let fast-food joints and minimarts derail you on your journey, with a little careful planning you can eat smart on the road and not succumb to temptation.
On the Road
It’s coming up to that time of year when we’re on the road with family in tow, off to visit relatives in another state. And, despite your best laid plans to get back before dinner, you’ve ended up miles from home, watching sign after sign for fast-food go by. But you’re starving and tired, and that’s a dangerous time to pull over and try to resist a Big Mac.
Most stops offer the typical fast-food options, such as burgers and fried chicken, and if you’re lucky, you’ll happen upon a diner or a fast food chain that offers a wider range of foods. However, no matter where you end up, the basic rule of thumb is to keep portion sizes, unhealthy fats and sugar levels in check. These guidelines not only help keep your weight loss on track, but they’ll also make for a safer trip. Eating large meals on the road may leave you sluggish, even groggy—not exactly how you want to feel behind the wheel. A lighter, well-balanced meal is the ideal mix for staying alert at the wheel, so here are some tips for staying on track:
Stick with a plain, small burger. Forget the quarter-pounders, and don’t even think about the Big Macs. Ask for extra salad and skip the cheese, as it’s bound to be processed and devoid of any goodness.
Chicken and Fish Sandwiches
Avoid fish sandwiches, as although they sound leaner, in the hands of fast-food restaurants, they get drenched in unhealthy fat. Chicken sandwiches are all over the map calorie-wise – the grilled ones are usually a good bet, but only if you skip the mayo, dressing and cheese.
Tacos and Burritos
The smaller, simpler choices are best so avoid the big ones and request no sour cream. Chicken or bean varieties are usually leaner than beef and when in doubt, choose soft tortillas, which are baked, rather than fried crunchy tortillas.
Vegetable toppings are best, the more the better. Stick to one to two slices (depending on their size) and avoid the personal or six-inch pizzas, as these are often higher in fat and calories than two regular slices. Sometimes you can order the pizza without cheese as well.
French fries, onion rings, chicken nuggets…will all have to be saved for special occasions, as they are high in fat and empty calories. Vegetable sides are great as long as they are steamed or boiled, and baked beans are a good choice, but avoid the creamed corn and spinach, and only opt for mashed potatoes or mashed butternut squash if they’re not laden with butter. A baked potato, dry rice or a small side of pasta with marinara are good options, too. Quiz the server about their preparation method before ordering.
Pack your Bags
Even though you’ll end up eating most of your meals by the side of the road, you’ll still need some snacks and beverages to keep you hydrated and to stave off excessive hunger and bingeing. You’ll make better choices if you keep these in the car to tide you over:
A Water Bottle
It should contain at least one cup of water per person at all times. Staying hydrated is especially critical for the driver since dehydration causes confusion, dizziness and fatigue.
Fresh Fruit and Vegetables
Given the choices out there, this may be your only fresh produce for the day. Avoid messy fruits so that you’re not biting into a peach with juice running down the steering wheel. The best options are easily portable fruits like apples, bananas, seedless grapes, cherries, pre-washed baby carrots, sticks of celery, cucumber or red peppers.
Fat-Free or Reduced-Fat Crackers
You’re better off with whole-grain crackers, as they will supply you with a nice, steady source of energy as opposed to white, processed, flour-based foods, which send blood sugar (and energy) levels up and down quickly. Good choices are plain fat-free whole-wheat crackers or Wasa multigrain crackers.
Do you have any tips of your own for healthy roadside options? If so we’d love to hear your suggestions, so please comment below!