Between family get-togethers, vacations and erratic schedules during the holiday season, it can be tough to eat healthy while traveling with kids. With a plan, some know-how and a few simple strategies however, it is possible to ward off getting hangry.
The holiday season is in full swing and chances are, you’ll be taking at least one trip this year. According to a recent survey by TravelingMom.com, TravelingDad.com and Vacatia, approximately one-third of families will be traveling back “home” to visit family and 17 percent will be meeting up with family at a destination.
Whether you’re traveling to your in-laws, jet-setting to a tropical island or heading to the slopes, it can be a real challenge to eat healthy while traveling with kids. Most rest stops have unhealthy fast food and airport fare can be hit or miss, not to mention erratic travel schedules mean you’re more likely to skip meals. The result? Low blood sugar, meltdowns and a vow: we’re never traveling again.
Your trip doesn’t have to be stressful, however, if you think ahead of time and make the best choice possible. Here are some tips that will help you eat healthy while traveling with kids.
Before you leave for your trip, pack an insulated bag with foods like cut up vegetables, fruit, cheese, yogurt, dried fruit and nuts for your road trip or plane ride.
If you’re flying with little ones, you can bring breast milk, formula and juice and baby food but check with TSA.gov to see the types of foods you’re allowed to bring on the plane.
Re-think rest stops
Most rest stops have fast food but in recent years, they have added mini-marts or Starbucks with healthier options like hard-boiled eggs, cheese, fresh fruit, hummus and nuts. Fast food may be cheaper but picking up food that will give you and your kids’ energy and keep your blood sugar on an even keel is well worth it.
When you’re out of your normal routine, it’s easy to forget to drink water and also remind your kids to do so. On long road trips in particular, you might avoid drinking altogether to cut down on bathroom breaks and avoid extending your travel time.
Yet dehydration can decrease focus and concentration, make you feel fatigued and increase cravings for salty and sweet foods. So pack re-usable water bottles for everyone and drink up.
If you’ll be eating out at restaurants, read the menu twice and think carefully about what you’ll order for yourself and your kids. Most kids menus lack nutrition and are made up of simple carbohydrates and fatty fare so order a salad to start or ask the server to substitute French fries for a vegetable.
Instead of unhealthy appetizers, start with a broth-based soup or shrimp cocktail, for example. Share an entrée with your partner or ask for a to-go container and take out half of your meal before digging in.
It’s not realistic to think that when you’re traveling with kids, every meal will be as healthy as it is at home or they won’t ask for treats. If you do your best to make sure they’re eating healthy throughout most of your trip, you can relax a bit and let them have a dessert—or two.