This article was written by Gary Snapper, LPC, LLP, an active SMEDA Board member. He is a licensed Professional Counselor and a Limited License Psychologist who founded Cognitive Behavior Solutions in Kalamazoo. He specializes in the treatment of eating disorders, anxiety disorders, and personality disorders.
Road Trip Tips
The end of summer is the time for road trips. Whether we are visiting family on the other side of the state, traveling to the beach, forest, or mountains, or simply packing up and going somewhere new, we need to eat during the trip.
Eating during road trips brings its own set of challenges. Boredom can lead to eating more than we typically do. Apparent lack of healthy options can lead to eating more “junk” food. Escaping our day-to-day routine when leaving home can trigger additional escape urges, including escaping our healthy eating routines.
A handful of simple strategies can help us cope with these and other food -related challenges that we face during summer road tripping:
- Packing some portable healthy foods and snacks can help us stick to the routines that we have worked hard to adopt at home. Some examples are trail mix, bagged vegetables, and hummus.
- Planning occasional stops at grocery stores can allow us to restock those healthy items during our travels.
- Eating frequently and in smaller amounts can address boredom, reduces the risk of binges, and helps ensure that you use up the food that you bring on the trip.
- Limit or avoid substances that are more likely to make us feel bad such as alcohol, deep fried foods, and refined carbohydrates.
- Choose water as your primary source of fluid during the trip. Many drinks on the market today provide little nutrient value and are overflowing with sugar, caffeine, alcohol, or synthetic sweeteners, none of which our bodies are designed to process effectively. These additives may diminish our sense of well-being.
- Don’t forget to enjoy the journey along the way. Prioritize physical-activity breaks several times per day while on the road. Packing Frisbees, soccer balls, and/or walking shoes help you to engage in light activities at rest stops or parks along the way. Activity helps our bowels function, increases our metabolism, and increases absorption of the nutrients that food offers us.
- When you choose to sample local fare, make it worthwhile. Mindfully focus on the value of the foods chosen for flavor or novelty, and try to avoid food choice just due to convenience.
- Don’t be so rigorous in your food choices that you forget to have fun on the trip. Be kind to yourself if you do opt for some unhealthier items while on the road. Remind yourself that perfection is not the goal, but mindful eating is.