5 Must Follow Road Trip Snacking Strategies
Roadtrips – we all love them! But for many of us they can be long, arduous and more specifically, notorious for being nutritionally challenged.
As someone who actually loves to drive, I love experiencing the journey while taking in the scenery, epic sights and listening to great tunes. For my family however, in particular my kids, I’ve realized that there’s a few pieces that need to be tended to if we want to make the trip fun and enjoyable. We need a few good reads, a couple fully charged iPads, coloring books and more important than anything else… a cooler packed full of good, healthy SNACKS!
Let’s be honest, nothing is worse than a bout of ‘HANGRYness’ when you are in the middle of highway driving with no stops in sight. And to make a bad situation worse, a bout of hangryness coupled with little cries from the backseat, “Daaaaaaaad, are we there yet?” [Aside: Yes. Shoot me now.]
When I connected with the cool people at Hardbite and shared with them that 18 Carrot Gold carrot chips are a road trip fave for me and my family, they asked me to share a few of my other road-tripping tips and tricks.
So this begged the question…
What’s the best strategies for snacking on the road to avoid hangry pitfalls and blood sugar chaos?
5 Strategies for Road Trip Snacking Awesomeness
These tips and strategies aren’t the end all and be all of road trip snacking Do’s and Don’ts, but if you carry out even a few of the following, you’ll be well on your way to avoiding unnecessary food stops, overeating and sugary melt-downs…
Strategy #1: Be Mindful of Your Food Choices
Mindfulness is a buzz word being thrown around a lot these days. In my book, The Whole Life Fitness Manifesto, I describe it as ‘being passionately aware of my life, relationships, my surroundings, and using all of my senses to fully experience my life to the max.’ When it comes to your nutrition, it’s no different. Just as we are mindful of our daily choices and actions, we need to look at our dietary choices through a similar lens.
Food labels, where our food is sourced, how it is manufactured and most importantly how does the food make you feel at the time when you eat – and how do you feel 60 to 90 minutes after eating. Developing a close relationship with the foods you eat, paying attention to how it makes you feel, will give you a greater understanding and appreciation for the food choices made each day.
If you have a tendency to reach for sugary treats as a quick pick-me up, do you ever take stock how you feel an hour after eating? Once the sugar-buzz wears off, how do you feel? What’s your knee-jerk reaction most of the time – I bet it involves wanting a nap or reaching for another sugary treat, right?
Being mindful of these cycles and tendencies with our food choices frees us up mental space and empowers us to make better decisions about the foods we eat to sustain our vitality.
Next time you find yourself prepping for a road trip, ask yourself are your food choices in line with the lifestyle you are striving to lead?
Strategy #2: Avoid Mindless Eating
When on a road trip, eating for the sake of eating is a natural occurrence, and often the foods we are reaching for or purchasing on the fly, can persuade us to over eat. Have you ever fallen pray to the ‘buy 1 chocolate bar, get 1 free’ at the gas station check out stand? Exactly my point.
Dr. Brian Wansink, director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab as well as the author ofMindless Eating, talks a lot about ‘hidden persuaders’ which often cause us to lose track of how much we are actually eating.
“For example, the size and shape of containers, he said, can as much as double the amount of food you consume. In a field study at a Philadelphia movie theater, researchers gave participants free popcorn in large or extra large sizes. Unknown to the participants, they were randomly given popcorn that was either fresh or 10 days old. The researchers found that people eating from the extra-large popcorn containers ate 45-50% more than those eating from the large ones. Participants even ate 40-45% more stale popcorn when it was served in bigger containers.” (read full post here)
When we find ourselves distracted (like watching a movie in a movie theater or playing a riveting game of Angry Birds while on a road trip) and not paying conscious attention to what we’re eating or how much we’re eating, we have the tendency to over indulge.
So to avoid mindless eating when on the road, don’t be drawn in by the ‘super-size me’ offers or ‘2 for 1’ gas station deals; pay attention to the foods you buy and how much you are eating; and ultimately just be smart about your overall food choices – you know what’s good for you.
(NOTE: For some road trip worthy snack suggestions, be sure to scroll down to the bottom of this post and check out my top 5 road trip snacks)
Strategy #3: Pre-Portion Your Snacks
When it comes to eating, Dr. Wasnik has also studied the effect of visual cues versus feelings of fullness and how it affects how much we eat. What he found was that when we rely on visual cues we have a tendency to overeat.
Psychologists have attributeddopamine (the ‘pleasure system’ of the brain) as one of the factors playing into our habit of over eating. Dopamine, a neurotransmitter, provides feel good sensations by naturally rewarding experiences such as food, sex, abuse of drugs… these feel good sensations reinforce and motivate us to do and continue to do certain activities – whether they’re healthy or not, it doesn’t differentiate that for us.So when you are reaching for a chocolate bar and telling yourself you’ll only have 1 little piece, and inevitably you find yourself returning to the fridge 3 minutes later for another one… it’s dopamine at work. After all, once you start, it’s tough to stop because we like to finish what we start.
Pre-portioning your snacks will allow you to control your portion size while still allowing yourself to feel ‘happy’ when you finish the container. Make sense?
Strategy #4: Don’t Skimp Out on Fats! (aka Say No! toDiet Foods)
Fats are not the issue. Somewhere over the past few decades we’ve become conditioned to avoid fat in our diets in fear that eating too much of it can make us fat and be harmful to our overall health. YEAH RIGHT?!!!
Rather than tell you about the studies and research that has disproved this way of thinking, I’m going to suggest you have a read of the following blog post – Eat Fat to Burn More Fat – check out the below infographic and watch a great interview with Dr. Gary Taubes.
Bonus: If you haven’t heard about Dr. Gary Taubes and his great books Good Calories, Bad Calories or more recent, Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It, then check out this awesome interview with the Diet Doc.
Strategy #5: Drink Water not Pop
When you find yourself on an epic road trip, it’s crucial to have plenty of water on hand.
It’s a known fact that most peopledon’t drink enough water each day, which means that our bodies aren’t functioning at optimal levels. In fact majority of people walk around at any given time in a state of dehydration. While dehydrated, people confuse the feeling with that of being hungry. This, as you can imagine, can lead to eating foods and snacks our bodies don’t need and ultimately lead to unintentional weight gain.
Drink Water to Control Your Weight (and release excess fat)
Drinking water can help with suppressing appetite and controlling cravings. In a study conducted by Virginia Tech professor, Brenda Davy, observed that participants who drank water before their meals lost much more weight than those who didn’t drink. Researchers explain that this is because water subdued feelings of hunger and in turn the water also acted as a thermogenesis – revving up their metabolisms! Additional studies show that people who substitute pops, juices and other sugar sweetened beverages in lieu of water tend to consume an extra 400 to 500 calories per day — that translates to 3,500 calories per week, which is the same amount of calories found in a pound of fat. Yikes! So who’s thirsty for water?
The Top 5 Butt-kicking, Road Tripping Snacks to Pack on your Next Epic Adventure
#1. Hardbite chips (the exotic root vegetable snacks that your kids won’t know are good for them)
For those that know me, I have a weakness for chips. Recently radio show host Drex and myself had a great conversation on live radio all about our chip fixation with Hardbite chips. These are a must on any road trip.
Chips have been my kryptonite since I was a kid, so I reserve my chip “throw down” nights for special occasions. I find comfort on those evenings knowing that I’m being mindful and choosing a healthier alternative over what’s mass-produced in the marketplace today. Being that Hardbite chips are also non-GMO and fully transparent in their manufacturing and preparation processes, I feel NO guilt when I find myself at the bottom of the bag after one sitting. (and let’s be honest, with names like Drop’N Mad Beets (slightly sweet, yet salty and savory) and 18 Carrot Gold (light, sweet, and crunchy), these just scream EAT ME!
As you can see by the following video, my kids have no idea these are “parent approved” chips… and please, if you ever meet them, don’t tell them! It will be our secret, right?
#2. Fresh fruit kabobs (bite-size morsels of goodness)
Fruits are fantastic as they satisfy the sweet tooth in all of us with their natural sugars. I suggest preparing the cooler with a few ice packs, pick up some disposable wooden skewers and start cubing your fruit for fruit kabobs. Try oranges, melons and berries for starters, and if you like, bananas are great too but if you are on a long-trip, make sure to douse them in lemon juice before we put them on your kabob. BTW – these are a kid favorite!
BONUS TIP: Have you ever tried Banana Sushi? Check out this recipe.
These little nuggets of goodness contain healthy fats which will surely help with keeping your attention on what matters most – the road! Nuts are jam-packed with vitamin-E, calcium, fiber, vitamin-C and even vitamin-B (including B-6). The good essential fats will help you with brain function and energy levels, keeping you feeling satiated longer as well as help regulate blood sugar levels so you aren’t having to deal with the highs and lows associated with eating sugary alternatives.
My top picks include: almonds, chestnuts, hazelnuts – all three of these nuts are low in saturated fat.
Power Snack NOTE: just because these are good for you, doesn’t mean you can eat handful after handful. Remember gram for gram, these little guys pack a power punch of calories. For example, a golf-ball sized portion of unsalted almonds has about 173 calories (15 grams of fat, 6 grams of carbs and 6 grams of protein).
#4. Veggie Bits & Bites
You can never go wrong with sliced vegetables. They are quick, easy and jam-packed full of nutrients, minerals and fiber. I suggest pre-packing sliced peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, snap peas, and baby carrots in a Bento Box container – ensuring they are both easy to reach and kept cool so they’re crisp when you fish them out of the cooler on the fly.
Don’t worry – kids no likey-the-veggies? use these 5 tips to trick them into loving them! Trust me it works…
#5. Beef Jerky
I’m a fan of the Paleo-style of eating. And as such, well, I tend to have an affinity foranything beef. Hence a road trip family favorite is anything ‘jerky’. Beef, chicken, turkey, ostrich… we love ’em all!
When shopping for jerky here’s 2 things to note:
- Be wary of ‘gas station’ jerky as they are typically over-processed and loaded with preservatives.
- Take a peak at the sodium content (this includes MSG! Opting for MSG-free jerky if you can) and if a single serving is close to 100% of your daily salt intake, then you might want to opt for a healthier jerky alternative. Check out Krave Jerky if you want to see what a healthy jerky label should look like.
- If you are going to eat a fair bit of jerky, make sure to also increase your water intake.
So in conclusion…
…pack your cooler, grab some good tunes and get ready for epic journeys on the road, and if you follow these simple tips and strategies you’ll be feeling healthy, energetic and Hangry-proofed…
and BTW – don’t worry about the extra water intake, there’s always a ‘bathroom on the right!’
Craving something more than water? If you are wanting something more than just plain water, opt for mineral rich, alkaline health water like Trace Blackwater or a water add-in option like Ener-C to give your water a healthy super-boost. Also, I always like to travel with a few Veden superfood travel packs if I’m hankering for something fast and nutritious.