The ongoing international border restrictions have led to more Australians turning to local destinations for their holiday breaks.
With this increase in domestic travel comes an increase in road trips, and long hours on the road can be a recipe for unhealthy dietary choices if nutrition is not carefully considered beforehand.
See below for our top five tips for approaching your nutrition on road trips.
1. Eat a substantial pre-drive meal
Much like we advise our athletes to eat before long bouts of training or competition to sustain optimal performance, eating a high-quality meal before road trips will help to maintain concentration and consistent energy levels. Examples of nutritious pre-drive meals include a bowl of wholegrain cereal with yoghurt and fruit, eggs and veggies on grainy toast or a cheese and salad sandwich.
2. Plan your stopping points
When athletes have competitions or training bouts for long durations, it is important they have a plan regarding what, how and where they will consume food and drink along the way to ensure adequate fuelling and recovery. Road trips are no different.
Before you embark on your journey, do some research into the route being taken and where will be the most appropriate places to stop along the way. If feasible, choose locations to stop where you know healthier food will be available.
3. Choose the most nutritious meals available
Depending where you are travelling, some of the stops on route may not have the desired food choices available. However, choosing the healthiest option on offer can go a long way. Some tips for choosing the healthier meals include:
- Choose grilled protein options over fried
- Choose wholegrain carbohydrate sources over refined
- Limit creamy sauces and/or ask for them on the side
- Look for lots of vegetables
4. Pack healthy snacks
If you normally get hungry and snack between meals, this shouldn’t change on a road trip. While stopping at the service station on the way can certainly be convenient, often the options available are low in key nutrients like protein in fibre and mindless snacking on them can lead to large spikes in energy followed by crashes. Nutritious snacks you may consider packing include unsalted nuts and seeds, natural popcorn, whole grain muesli bars, fresh fruit, yoghurt or cheese and grainy crackers.
5. Don’t forget to drink
Water will always be a healthy choice. If you struggle to drink plain water, consider soda water and/or adding lemon/lime juice, fresh mint or cucumber to it for flavour. You could even freeze a bottle of water overnight to act as an ice brick in a cooler bag to keep the food you bring with you cool. It only takes slight dehydration to negatively impact concentration and cognitive capacity.
Try to avoid excessive consumption of caffeinated drinks to keep you alert, and rely more on whole food-based meals and snacks to give you the energy you need. Excessive caffeine consumption can have negative side effects like anxiety and dehydration.