For some, the holiday season means standing in long airport-security lines or logging hours behind the wheel to visit family.
Whether dining between flights or munching on the road, itâ€™s important to fuel your body for sustainability. Holiday trips can leave you tired and disoriented, but being prepared and choosing the right foods can help you fight travel-induced fatigue.
â€œTo stay sustained, think about protein and fiber to stay full and carbohydrates for energy,â€ said Teri Giordano, a dietetic intern and graduate nutrition student at University of Illinois at Chicago, in an email.
She suggests tuna in a pouch or cup, low-fat string cheese, yogurt or peanut butter for protein to keep you full and whole-wheat crackers, toast or English muffins to get your dose of carbs and fiber.
â€œFruits and veggies are high in fiber and low in calories, loaded with vitamins and minerals and may help with energy,â€ Giordano said.
Whatever your means of travel, planning ahead is the best way to stay on the healthy-eating track. You can pack your own healthy snacks in a travel bag (sans the liquid foods if youâ€™re traveling by plane), and decide ahead of time what foods youâ€™ll look for in convenience stores and restaurants.
â€œIf you plan ahead, that will curb the [likeliness of eating] extra calories if you stop at the convenience store and go â€˜oh, Iâ€™m starving,â€™â€ Sylvia Krick, a senior food science and human nutrition major at Colorado State University, said.
â€œIt doesnâ€™t hurt to bring a bag of nuts with youâ€¦ Fruit travels well,â€ Krick said. â€œThose little Babybel cheeses travel well. I love those for road trips.â€
While bringing healthy snacks from home is the best and usually least expensive option, sometimes itâ€™s impossible to go all day without buying something along the way. Katie Russ, a senior food science and nutrition major at CSU, said if youâ€™re stopping to eat in an airport cafÃ© or a restaurant along the road, tell yourself that youâ€™re going to eat healthy.
â€œBefore you even go into a restaurant, think â€˜Iâ€™m going to look into a healthy option,â€™â€ she said. â€œDonâ€™t let the menu or waitress talk you into something. A low-carb menu is typically a healthier option.â€
Russ also warns to look out for portion sizes. Ask for the lunch-size instead of the dinner-size entrÃ©e, and keep in mind that you can eat half and take the rest with you for later.
â€œMost fast-food places offer healthier side options such as side salads, apple slices and yogurt parfaits,â€ Giordano said. â€œChoose these over fries, cookies and other high-calorie options.â€
If youâ€™re stopping for coffee, you can pick up healthy food options at the same time.
â€œThereâ€™s going to be a Starbucks at every airport. Look in their little refrigerated area and sometimes they have cheese and crackers,â€ Krick said. â€œOr nuts, or those Kind bars â€“ I eat those all the time, and itâ€™s all natural.â€
As far as your need for caffeine goes, be sure youâ€™re still taking care of what you put into your body.
â€œGet a small cup of coffee rather than a foo-foo drink,â€ Russ said. â€œCoffee drinks that have chocolate or whipped cream are high in sugar. [It] will put you on a sugar high, but itâ€™s not going to help stay awake longer.â€
Whatever you eat, Giordano suggests eating several small, frequent snacks throughout the day. This keeps your energy level and helps avoid junk food
â€œI recommend three modest-size meals and two small snacks per day,â€ she said. â€œIf this is not possible while traveling, then break your meals into approximately five or six snacks spread throughout the day.â€