Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Eating Well, On the Road...

"What is that feeling when you're driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? — it's the too-huge world vaulting us, and it's good-by. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies."
- Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part 2, Ch. 8

Eating well is hard enough, but doing it while you're road tripping is almost impossible.  Unfortunately, with Lana almost 400 miles away right now, alot of both of our meals come from gas stations and fast food places.  That's what today's post is all about, eating as well as you can on the road.

Obviously, packing food from home is the best idea, but sometimes there just isn't...well...time...

Let's start by talking about what to avoid.

  1. Sugary Drinks-  Obvious.
  2. Gas Station Hotdogs - Even if they weren't half fat and half snout...they roll around for hours on a heater that probably hasn't been cleaned in months while being fondled by other patrons. Gross
  3. Carrot Muffins - Yes, there is a vegetable in the name.  No, they are not healthy.  The typical muffin is 400+ calories and 20g+ of fat. 
  4. Gas Station Cappuccino- Those machines are evil and drinking from them blesses you with about 150 calories for 12oz...and likely you're going to be in it for 20oz with these sugary drinks.

 Ok, so what can you eat?  There aren't alot of great options in gas station fair, and alot of this is an exercise is making the best of a bad situation.  Here are a few ok options though...

1. Coffee/sugar free soda/energy drinks-  Caffeen is my friend, especially on road trips. It's a balancing act though.  Hydration is good.  Pulling over to use the restroom every 15 minutes is not. 

2.  Nuts!  Unsalted if possible.  Filled with hunger satisfying good fats, protein, and fiber; nuts are a good choice.  I like pistachio's and almonds the best.  Just be careful of portion sizes, nuts are a very calorie dense food.  Pumpkin seeds are a winner as well, if you can find them without too much sodium.

3.  Fruit.  While it might not be the best of quality, you are likely to be able to score an apple/banana/grapes if you visit a more truck stop oriented gas station.  I have some of these produce oasis' memorized on my normal route just for this reason.

4.  Sandwiches?  This category can be a bit more touch and go.  Deli Express has some stuff that is reasonable macronutrient wise.  That being said, their food has to survive in the refrigerator of a convenience store and as such is rather highly processed and high in sodium.  Another great option is the gas station with attached Subway!

5.  Jerky?  Even more questionable, is meat jerky.   Turkey, Beef, high protein, low fat...all goodness, but jerky can be REALLY high in sodium.  Everything in moderation though.

6.  Bars??  While they're almost certainly always available, the granola bar can be a bit of a landmine.  They're often heavily processed as well, sugary, high in carbs, low in protein, and rather high on the glycemic index.  Don't get me wrong, I love granola bars, especially from places like Cliff, and Nature Valley.  They might not be the most ideal for fueling your drive however.  If you do go for a bar, look for some substantial protein in it and keep the calories low.  I recommend trying to optimize the satisfaction/calorie ratio. 

Eating on the road is tricky, and often you're making the best of a bad situation, but by being a little careful you can come out on the other end of your trip in good shape...

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