If you’re following me in real life (or on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook), you know that in my current job, I work for a juice company. I spend eight hours a day traveling around Maryland, DC, and Virginia, and over the course of a week, I can travel almost 500 miles!
This is actually my third job that’s required a lot of travel, and the second that has given me a lot of one-on-one time with my steering wheel. That much time on the road has taught me some tricks that are helpful for anyone setting out on an adventure — including my other road warriors out there!
Enter: The Road Warrior Series. Over the course of the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some tips I’ve discovered to help you maximize your travel time, whether you’re going on vacation or pounding the pavement for your paycheck.
Today’s topic? Eating well while on the road.
When your office is your car, it’s sometimes pretty tough to make healthy decisions when it comes to food. Between fast food, gas stations, energy slumps, and trying to save money, it’s really easy to make unhealthy choices. I’ve found a few tricks that help me to stay on track:
Pack your own non-perishable snacks, or better yet, stash them in your glovebox. There is nothing worse than hunger striking when you’re driving down the highway in the middle of nowhere and your only food option is the mom-and-pop gas station. I always keep my favorite healthy snacks in my glovebox so that I never wind up hangry. Some great choices are snack/meal bars (I love Kind Bars, Larabars, and Quest Bars), your favorite protein powder/meal shake (I carry these AdvoCare Meal Replacement Shakes because they’re non-dairy and just need water), and dried fruit. Tuna packs are also an excellent option and can easily be added to a fast food salad for quick, lean protein.
Know what you’re going to order before you get in line for the drive thru. Ya’ll, I LOVE McDonald’s french fries. I love them. I LOVE Taco Bell’s Crunchwrap Supreme. Unfortunately, one cannot subsist on french fries and Crunchwraps alone. My game plan is to choose what I’m going to order before I get in the drive thru line. And, if I really want some greasy, delicious, terrible for me fare, I treat myself to the smallest size of one item. So, a four piece chicken nugget or a side of cinnamon twists.
Water, water, water. I never leave home without my Blender Bottle, which I fill up with water anytime I stop. While restaurants are required to give you a free water cup, if you want more than 12 oz, you’re gonna need to bring your container from home. Staying hydrated on the road is really difficult, and you’re really going to make it even tougher on yourself if you’re constantly drinking soda or coffee.
DO treat yourself to local treats. If you’re in a city and you come across a great local burger joint or donut shop, you should absolutely splurge, because food is part of experiencing a new place. I always make smarter decisions when I’m eating at restaurants or grabbing snacks that I could get at home — like choosing a salad at Chili’s or grilled chicken at McDonald’s — so that I feel good about indulging when I come across that once-in-a-lifetime local treat.
Pick your gas station wisely. I think most people would be surprised at some of the healthier options that many gas stations have — the trick is picking the right gas station. I almost exclusively stop at Wawa or Sheetz when I drive because I know for a fact that they have fresh food options. My favorite choices are hard boiled eggs (I eat the whites) and fresh fruit, but even the lamest of gas stations should carry Naked Juice or a Kind Bar, both of which have very few unpronounceable ingredients.
Those are my top five tips for eating well on the road — what advice do you have?
Disclaimer: I am not a registered dietician, and all opinions expressed are based on personal experience. Please consult with your doctor or an RD (like my friend Tara) before starting any diet program.