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QUINN ON NUTRITION: Tips for healthy travel

QUINN ON NUTRITION: Tips for healthy travel

I’m writing this from our hotel room in Missouri. We are halfway through a road trip through several states with main stops in Nashville, Tennessee, and Branson, Missouri. To say the least, it’s been an adventure of landscapes, people and food.

We planned as well as we could. Brought bottled water for the long days of driving. Threw in some oranges for snacks along the way. And didn’t forget the fiber supplements.

Still, even with hotel swimming pools and walking as much as we can, travel can take a toll on bodies. Here’s my travel list of things to remember:

  • Water is essential. Ask for it at every restaurant. Keep the bottled variety stocked in your vehicle. And don’t forget to drink it.
  • Be a detective. Amid the myriad snackies we have seen at gas-station stops, it’s not always easy to find those that offer any nutritional value besides sugar, fat and salt. I discovered a small bag of pickle-flavored cashews that at least fed me some protein, healthful fat and dietary fiber. Not bad.
  • Be prepared for more sodium. Restaurant food and most packaged convenience foods are loaded with this ingredient. Here’s the rule of thumb if your chosen food has a Nutrition Facts label: A product with no more than 140 milligrams per serving is considered “low sodium,” according to the United States Food and Drug Administration. While my husband crunched on Corn Nuts, I was pleased to find that the snack contains just a bit over this limit. Plus, yippee, the snack even has some dietary fiber.
  • Don’t be afraid to enjoy some local treats. For example, ever since the ice cream cone was first served at the World’s Fair in St. Louis in 1904, Missouri has been known for its ice cream. (The Daisy Queen in Marshal, Arkansas, has some pretty darn good ice cream, as well.)
  • Besides local fare, search out tried-and-true eating establishments, as well. The Applebee’s near our hotel in Illinois served an amazing grilled salmon, which included a tasty Caesar salad, broccoli and mashed potatoes. Our bodies sighed a big thank-you!
  • Dance the night away. It’s good exercise. As we struggled to avoid crazy bachelorette parties in Nashville, we managed to find a country-western bar that catered to us “seasoned” couples. One young man came up to the table we shared with our rancher friends from New Mexico and asked if one of our husbands would dance with his wife. “She really wants to dance with a real cowboy,” he told them. They kindly filled his request, the wife gushed her thanks, and poof, they were gone.
  • Forget the iced honey buns, and gulp Smartwater instead. I guarantee it’ll make the trip more enjoyable.

Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian. Email her at



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