Healthy eating tips while traveling

Over the past week, I have spent quite a bit of time in the car traveling for both work and personal reasons. While I tried my best to plan accordingly and pack healthy options for my travels or eat prior to leaving, there were instances when I needed to find options along the way. While it was easier to find healthy options at particular stops compared to others, overall, I was pleasantly surprised that it was possible to find many healthier alternatives to typical options offered at most convenience stores. Here are a few tips and tricks to help make better-for-you choices while on the road.

1. Check to see if they have a refrigerated section with options such as yogurt, fruit, vegetables and individual cheese servings.

At two of the gas stations I stopped at, they had a great selection of precut and prewashed produce such as pineapple, melon, grapes, broccoli, cauliflower and baby carrots. They also had a variety of different yogurts to choose from as well as individual cottage cheese cups, hard-boiled eggs and cheese sticks.

2. See if they have a fruit basket.

While smaller gas stations may have less precut and prewashed produce options, they oftentimes will have a fresh fruit bowl or basket with great snack options such as bananas, apples and/or oranges.

3. Opt for better-for-you snack mixes.

While it is easy to gravitate toward a bag of chips or salty snack mix while searching for a crunchy snack, there are other alternatives such as individual packages of nuts, nut mixes and trail mixes made with heart-healthy nuts, seeds and dried fruit that can help satisfy both sweet and salty cravings.

4. Choose water for hydration.

To keep hydrated while traveling, opt for water or another no sugar added beverage. It is easy to consume excess added sugar from beverages alone while traveling.

While I had luck using the above tips, sometimes it is difficult to know what type of options will be available or if they will be available at all. One way to help combat this predicament is to eat prior to traveling or to pack our own snack options. Here are a few of my favorite, easy to pack options.

1. Fresh fruit such as clementines, bananas and/or apples

2. Cheese sticks

3. Nuts such as almonds

4. Pre-shelled pistachios

5. Trail mix made with nuts and dried fruit

6. Precut and washed produce such as grapes, berries and/or carrots

To help avoid mindless eating, I like to prepackage serving sizes of items prior to leaving especially higher calorie options such as nuts and trail mixes.

Overall, it is possible to make healthy choices while traveling. While it may take a little planning at first, it will become much easier and quicker with time and practice.

Rachelle Deutz is a registered dietitian at Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center.