June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month. Dedicated in 1991 to honor the height of the summer harvest, it is the best time of year for farmers’ markets and a great time to set up some new healthful habits for you and your family.
Traveling can make it challenging to find our favorite health foods. Have you ever been hungry in an airport? Some of the options available offer less than stellar nutrition. There are plenty of circumstances that will take you away from home, and make it more challenging to eat healthfully. Take the time to plan ahead and you can relax knowing that you won’t be derailing your healthful living efforts by consuming empty calories that only make you hungry again a short time later.
Most of us spend several hours in our vehicles every week running errands, stuck in traffic, or shuttling kids back and forth between activities. If we don’t plan ahead, it is easy to fall into the trap of swinging through the closest drive-through when you are hungry.
Don’t wait until you are starving to make food choices because this will almost always lead to bad decisions. Instead, plan ahead, so you don’t have to rely on your willpower alone to keep you on track. Pack easy-to-carry healthful snacks, and keep them in either your purse or your vehicle. This way you always have healthy choices right at your fingertips.
Some of my easy-to-carry favorite snacks are baby carrots, almonds, and dried fruit. Toss some of these in separate containers and take them with you on the go. In the summer, kids love frozen grapes or blueberries and they travel well if you place a small cooler in the car.
Just because you’re on vacation, doesn’t mean you should take a total hiatus from your health goals. You can still maintain a healthful lifestyle on road trips by packing wholesome foods to eat in the car. You can pack a cooler to keep handy so you have easy access to snacks. If you’re planning to stop at rest areas along the way, pack a nutritious picnic lunch to eat before you head out on the next leg of your trip.
Even though you can’t pack liquids in your carry-on bag, there are still plenty of options for what you can bring. You can pack wrapped whole food snack bars, nuts, seeds or even pieces of fruit in your personal items bag. With a little creative planning, you can keep your nutrition on track, and save yourself a bundle of money you would have otherwise spent on pricey (and often unhealthy) airport food and snacks.
The following items are all easy to prepare, and convenient to take on the go. Feel free to experiment, and find out which snacks best fit your preference and lifestyle. Mix and match options to see what works for you. Be sure to keep any perishable foods in a cooler or use an ice pack.
Baby carrots and cucumber slices with hummus
Sliced or whole apples with nut butter or sun butter
Clementine or mandarin oranges
Grapes or blueberries (remember you can freeze them for a summer treat)
Sliced or whole pears
Nuts and raisins (you can make your own trail mix)
Pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds
Whole food snack bars (such as Lärabar)
Sandwiches or wraps
High quality beef or turkey jerky
MAKE THE MOST OF TECHNOLOGY
If you are looking for a restaurant while on the road, get some apps on your mobile device before you leave to help you along the way. If you are dealing with food allergies try Allergy Eats or Find Me Gluten Free. A great app to find vegan food options worldwide is HappyCow Find Vegan Food. Keep in mind that apps like these will direct you to healthful, allergy-sensitive, or vegan restaurants. Even if you don’t have these dietary concerns, the food you find will be more healthful and fresher than other large restaurant chain options.
If you are looking to find the freshest produce available during your travels, try stopping by a farmers’ market. You can find farmers markets near you with localharvest.org. Simply enter your location and this website directs you to the best farmers’ markets and fruit produce stands around the country.
Finally, remember to bring along a refillable water container. This will save you a lot of money along the way because water is expensive to purchase and we need a lot of it when we travel. With a little planning and some quick prep and packing, you can up your summer travel game. Enjoy the road trips!
Catherine Benton is a nutritionist and life coach in San Francisco. She is the co-founder and co-owner of Personalized Nutrition Solutions. Email: [email protected].