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A little planning, brown-bagging can keep you eating well on the road
Get Healthy

A little planning, brown-bagging can keep you eating well on the road


'Tis the season to eat — and travel.

And it's possible to maintain good habits for the former while engaginj in the latter with a little effort. 

Before you head out the door to get in the car of hop a train or plane, eat a balanced meal that includes protein, carbohydrates (such as fruits, whole grains), vegetables and fat. An example is a veggie scramble cooked in avocado oil with berries on the side. Leftovers or a tossed green salad with cheese, nuts and an olive oil-based dressing are other good options. These also serve the dual purpose of helping you clean out your fridge before you go. 

Grab and go

With that good start, pack some snacks for the trip. Items that don't  require refrigeration include nuts, seeds, fruit (apples, bananas, pears, oranges, grapes), low-sugar protein bars, tuna in a pouch, canned sardines and celery sticks with nut butter.

If you’re going to be traveling for more than a couple hours, pack a soft-sided cooler with hard boiled eggs, Greek yogurt, cheese sticks, veggies and hummus and even grilled chicken on whole grain bread. In a covered recyclable container, make a salad with greens and/or quinoa, nuts/seeds, beans, leftover chicken or other lean protein, and top with a lemon wedge to squeeze just before eating. Keep small packets of salt and pepper handy, along with pre-packaged disposable cutlery, napkins and a picnic blanket for car travel.

Stops along the way 

While you may think that the only snacks at gas stations, convenience stores and airport shops are candy bars, chips and sodas, you'll find some  healthy upgrades.

Most offer limited amounts of fresh and dried fruits, nuts, protein bars, cheese sticks, pretzels, yogurt and bottled water. Some even carry pre-made salads, hummus and raw vegetables. Cheese sticks or protein bar (protein), an apple or banana (carbohydrate) and mixed nuts or peanuts (fat) make a decent meal. If you are able to find a salad or raw veggies all the better.

Have water available at all times, especially when flying, because it’s easy to become dehydrated. The last thing you want to do is arrive at your destination hangry with a headache.

Airport security

Don't pack foods in your carry-on that are liquid or gel-like in consistency, such as soups, sauces, yogurts, puddings and drinks. Meats, protein bars, nuts, whole or cut fruits and vegetables, firm cheeses and sandwiches are allowed through security. All foods must be wrapped or in a container. Whole pieces of fruit that are unpeeled are fine. If you ate half your apple,  wrap the uneaten half or it’s gone.

Back-up ideas

Take pre-measured servings of your favorite protein powder and a shaker cup. Add water and ice for  emergency fuel to keep you going for a couple hours. In a hotel room, put a packet of instant oats in a cup and run hot water from the coffeemaker. Let sit until it’s the desired consistency. You could even go gourmet and stir in protein powder and dried fruit or nuts.


Time is of the essence when you are looking to get good food when you’re doing the driving. Keep an eye peeled for build-your-own-meal kind of restaurants. They’re short order and you’ll be able to load up on lean protein and fresh garnishes.

Be flexible

Make the decision before you leave as to whether you are going to follow a modified healthy eating plan or take a holiday break. Should your healthy plan go awry, aim to eat better with the next meal or snack. Whatever you decide, it’s OK as long as you’re consciously doing what’s right for you.

Carol Slager is a licensed pharmacist, author, blogger and health coach in Northwest Indiana. Follow her monthly in Get Healthy and at Opinions expressed are the writer's.


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