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Healthy snacking on the road

Don't let your road trip derail your good health.
Don't let your road trip derail your good health.Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

(A guest post this week from Lori Scholle, RD)

Taking a road trip with the family is a time-honored ritual that almost all families have experienced before and are likely to do again this summer and during other school breaks. Planning for healthy eating while on the road seems impossible to achieve. Most road trips are taken along interstate routes and the food choices at the exits are usually the high-calorie and low-nutrient foods offered in convenience stores and fast food restaurants. Stopping each time a family member is hungry can lead to some pretty poor nutritional choices as well as an empty wallet. Taking a little time to plan ahead can help keep your family’s nutrition goals in check as well as provide some relief for your wallet.

When planning for snacks, remember that a snack is a “mini-meal” used to hold you over until the next meal. A healthy snack should include at least two of the major food groups – fat, protein or carbohydrate – to help you feel full and satisfied between meals. When you “pick two” of the major food groups at each snack you have a better chance of keeping your healthy eating goals in place.

Packing snacks ahead of time is a great way to know what your family is eating and to keep your expenses in check. Pack individual portions in snack sized Ziploc bags and store them in an easy to reach place. Good foods to pack ahead include:

· Fresh fruits – blueberries, strawberries, peeled oranges, melon, grapes, sliced apples

· Dried fruits – raisins, apricots, cherries, blueberries

· Fresh veggies and hummus – carrot sticks, celery sticks, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers

· Low Fat Cheese – string cheese, cheese sticks, cracker cuts, cubes

· Nuts – pistachios, almonds, walnuts, pecans, peanuts

· Whole grain crackers, cereals and granola bars –look for 4g fiber and sugar below 9g

· Sandwiches on whole grain bread

If rushing around and getting ready for the trip left you with no time to plan for snacks – don't worry! Not all of the foods a convenience store offers are unhealthy. More and more stores are recognizing that customers want healthy options. Making smart choices at a convenience store is possible with some guidance. Check out the fresh food case first to see what is available and then move to the packages foods aisle. Here are some options to look for that will keep your family in the healthy zone while travelling:

· Whole fruit

· Whole grain cereal cups with at least 4 g of fiber and about 150 calories per serving

· Dry roasted nuts - try to look for low salt or no salt options

· Low fat yogurt

· Trail mix – watch portion sizes

· Single serve packs of raw veggies

· Fresh fruit cup

· Part Skim String Cheese Sticks

Making healthy choices at most meals and snacks will leave your family some room to enjoy the treats that are bound to come your way! It is a vacation after all!

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Lori Scholle is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Breastfeeding Specialist and founder of Scholle Family Nutrition, LLC. Lori is passionate about providing individualized nutritional counseling and education to families that gives them the tools they need to create and sustain good nutrition and healthy eating habits. Her goal is to help families eat well to live better at all stages of life and to support busy parents in providing healthy nourishment to their children. A resident of Decatur, Georgia, Lori is the mother of three (always very hungry) boys and enjoys cooking, reading and spending time with her family.