Short or long, time away from home can help to recharge and reinvigorate us. Often though, the food we take on a road trip leaves us feeling sluggish, bloated, and run-down.
I’m not sure why, but even healthy eaters are prone to letting their normal rules fly out the window when it comes time for a road trip.
Suddenly, it is ok to stock up on chips, cookies, candies and other crappy snacks that are typically off-limits for a gut-friendly diet. What’s more, the drinks of choice switch from water to sugar-filled sodas.
By the time the destination is reached, we feel worse than when the trip started, we’re heavier perhaps, and no longer ready for an adventure. So much for recharging!
Road trip snacks do not need to drain the traveler and put such a damper on the vacation. It is possible to have snacks that are easy to carry and store on a road trip while also providing nutrition and energy.
When packing for a road trip, try including some of these essentials for a healthy, invigorating time away from home.
Water: Water should always be the go-to drink. It is important for staying hydrated and keeping energy flowing to all parts of the body while sitting for extended periods of time. Keep the water chilled in a cooler or bring it inside if your overnight lodgings have a fridge.
Caffeinated, sugary drinks may give you a temporary boost but will dehydrate the body and deplete you of nutrients, making you feel more rundown before long.
It’s best not to drink plain tap water as it’s full of chlorine and other chemicals that aren’t friendly to our gut flora. Use a water filter or buy bottled water instead.
Nuts: Unsalted nuts are a good source of protein and healthy fats. They will help to sustain the feeling of fullness longer than chips and still provide that “crunch” we sometimes crave, especially on a road trip.
Nuts contain phytic acid which can upset your digestion, especially if your gut is already out of balance. Soaking nuts overnight breaks down the problematic phytates, make them much easier to digest. Here’s how you do it! It’s quick and easy, and makes the nuts much sweeter too!
Fruit: apples, bananas, avocados, oranges, and grapes will remain fresh even in a warm car for a day or two. They provide a good source of vitamins and nutrients to keep you energised on the road.
Fruit also gives a sweet fix for those cravings that come along, allowing you to avoid the super-high-sugar content of processed snacks.
Dark chocolate: will give you an energy pop and help your concentration, while also boosting your healthy gut flora. It sounds too good to be true but dark chocolate has been found to contain polyphenols that are a big hit with your friendly gut bacteria, such as Bifidobacterium.
Make sure you choose chocolate with a high cocoa content (70% or more) for the maximum energy and health boost. The high sugar content of milk chocolate may taste nice but it cancels out the benefits.
Vegetables: Vegetables provide many of the same benefits as fruit. They are easily packable and keep well on long road trips.
Carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and sweet peppers are tangy alternatives to satisfy and satiate the weary traveler. Kale chips are a great snack for a gut geek!
Yogurt: especially Greek or homemade yogurt, is a good option to have on a road trip (keep it in a cooler for longer journeys). It provides a balanced combination of protein, carbs and fat, which means you feel full for longer.
Yoghurt also is chock-full of beneficial probiotics to help with digestion and to keep us nice and regular. Make sure your yoghurt does not have added sugar, or you’ll lose much of the probiotics while inadvertently feeding the harmful bacteria in your gut that love sugar.
Biltong: is a traditional South African snack of air-dried meat. It’s very trendy with the Paleo crowd because it’s high in protein and free from artificial additives (if you buy a good brand). It’s not to everyone’s taste but it stays edible for ages without refrigeration, so give it a try!
Check out my other posts on travel:
Gut-Healthy Travels: 3 Strategies to Survive Any Destination for more ideas on how to stay fit and strong while on the road.
Road trips can be fun and exciting times. Thinking about food ahead of time can help you to avoid the classic error of eating poor-quality crap at some roadside cafe.
Eating healthy, both with snacks brought in the car and by choosing carefully what to eat from restaurants, can make the entire trip more enjoyable by raising energy levels and overall mood. Bon voyage!