By: Lauren Moore, Registered Dietitian
It’s time for school holidays! Time with family and friends, time to relax, time to squeeze in some extra exercise, and maybe even time to go on an adventure. As exciting as travelling can be, it can often present a few challenges. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle while away from home is sometimes a lot harder than it seems, and the change in routine that holidays and road trips bring can be disruptive to your usual exercise and eating patterns.
Part of the fun of going away is having a few treats, but all too often this can snowball into treats and junk food multiple times per day! One of the danger zones when road tripping is the garage shop - filled to the brim with unhealthy, high calorie snacks and treats. Here are 4 tips to make healthier choices during your road trip:
- Think ahead and prepare in advance
This is the ideal situation, the proverbial jackpot, when it comes to eating on the road. Incorporate ‘padkos’ preparation into your packing routine and make snacks or meals in advance. This is the best way to ensure your snacks or meals are high in fibre and low in unhealthy fats. This is also the easiest way to control your portions and ensure your snack or meal is balanced. Examples of healthy snacks include high fibre crackers (e.g. Rye Vita) with low fat cottage cheese or hummus, a fruit, a handful of unsalted nuts or biltong. Or, if you’re looking for a more substantial meal, you can try a wholegrain sandwich packed with a low fat protein (e.g. tuna, chicken or egg) and lots of salad greens.
- Stay hydrated
It is easy to forget to drink sufficient fluids when you are out of your usual routine. I often forget to drink water as I rarely feel thirsty, so to make sure I drink enough I try to monitor my water intake and ensure I have drunken a big bottle of water by the time I get to work, another before I get home from work and another before I go to bed. When on holiday though, I tend to COMPLETELY forget as I don’t have my usual routine to remind me, and I really have to make an effort to drink enough. Remaining hydrated is so important for the body to function properly, and can even help to reduce excess snacking as the fluids help to keep you full. Focus on drinking fluids that are low in sugar, such as water or herbal teas, and avoid fluids high in sugar (e.g. fruit juice or drinking yogurts).
- Choose healthy snacks when on the road
It can be hard to find healthy snacks when stopping for a bite to eat during a road trip, which is why it is best to pack your own snacks beforehand. Healthy options which are usually available at garage shops include nuts, popcorn, biltong and dried fruits. These snacks are healthy in moderation and are filling. Avoid dried fruit rolls, as these are usually coated in sugar, and always choose unsalted nuts if possible.
- Avoid deceptively “healthy” snacks
Some snacks SEEM healthy, and are covered in slogans boasting that there is “no added sugar” or “98% fat free”. However, the truth is that these snacks are often packed with sugar and other calorie dense ingredients. Examples of these include muesli or health bars (e.g.. Jungle Oats bars), and yoghurt or milk based drinks (e.g. Yogisip). The easiest way to know what you are really eating or drinking is to check the list of ingredients on the back of the packaging. As a general guideline, ingredients are always listed from most to least. So, if you see sugar (or other sugary substances such as maple syrup or honey) in the beginning of the list, that is your queue to ditch that snack and look for a healthier option! (Look out for a blog post in the near future about food labels and understanding what is actually in the food you are eating!).
At the end of the day, it’s no fun coming back from holiday feeling like you have undone all the good work you built up before. Try your best to maintain healthy eating principles as best you can while you are away – controlling your portions, exercising and enjoying treats in moderation. If you are taking some time off, I wish you a restful and peaceful holiday!