Healthy Snacks for Planes, Trains and Cars

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Over the river and through the forest, if it were that simple. For most people, traveling means dazzling waits at an airport or train station, or hours of driving. At some point you will want a snack.

Eating healthy snacks while traveling can be tricky. Takeout options “are likely to be processed or ultra-processed foods that are high in fat, higher in sodium and lower in fiber,” said Kayli Anderson, a registered dietitian and faculty member at the American College of Medicine. of life.

Deviating from your usual routines when traveling can lead to unpredictable spikes in hunger, he added. And time pressures (rushing to catch a flight or train, for example) can make it difficult to sit down to eat.

“Boredom eating” is also common during long trips, said Shona Halson, a behavioral sciences professor and researcher at the Australian Catholic University in Brisbane. Research has shown that being bored can increase the desire to snack, as well as the urge to consume unhealthy foods.

An occasional day of suboptimal snacking is no big deal, Anderson said: One bad snack “or even an entire eating trip will neither make nor break your health.” But if eating well while traveling is a priority, here are some strategies and tips from experts.

“The key to travel snacking is planning ahead,” said Christopher Taylor, professor of medical dietetics and family medicine at Ohio State University. “If you can become less reactive, that will give you a big advantage.”

“You pack your toothbrush. Pack your snacks too,” echoed Joan Salge Blake, clinical professor of nutrition at Boston University.

Walnuts are Mrs. Salge Blake's favorite choice. “They are heart healthy and a source of fiber, which most Americans lack in their diets,” she said. Pistachios are her favorite because, unlike many other nuts, they are a complete source of protein, meaning they contain all nine essential amino acids. “But all nuts contain protein, which helps you feel full,” she added.

She also recommended packing dried fruits (apricots and raisins, for example) because they are a source of potassium and fiber. Eat the fruit and nuts together “and you'll have a great sweet and salty snack,” he said.

Lisa Young, a registered dietitian in private practice in New York, said that “hummus with veggie sticks (carrots, red pepper, jicama, celery) are at the top of my list.” The chickpeas in hummus are another complete protein.

“If you're traveling by car, the ability to bring your own cooler is a plus,” Dr. Taylor said. He suggested storing protein-rich foods like cold chicken or hard-boiled eggs. Nut butter sandwiches made with whole wheat bread are another healthy option, he said.

If packing snacks ahead of time isn't realistic, many airports and train terminals now have market-style food stores selling produce and salads, and grocery stores are an easy alternative to gas stations when you're driving somewhere. “Many places have healthier prepared foods, like bento boxes with vegetables and hummus,” Anderson said.

Dr. Taylor recommended trail mix as a relatively healthy, satisfying and convenient option that can be found almost everywhere.

Mrs. Salge Blake voted in favor of seeds, particularly pumpkin and sunflower. “Like nuts, they are a good source of fiber, protein and potassium,” she said. She suggested adding seeds or trail mixes to store-bought yogurt (high-protein Greek yogurt, if she can find it) to make a parfait.

When it comes to energy or protein bars, choose those that have nuts, seeds or fruits at the top of their ingredient list, Salge Blake said. “I love KIND bars,” she said. “But any bar that contains a lot of nuts will have some protein and fiber.”

If you want a healthier alternative to chips, Anderson said she looks for dried bean snacks, such as dried chickpeas or edamame.

Dr. Young likes popcorn, which is a whole grain and contains fiber. She suggested making your own at home with a popper, but she said she also likes the Skinny Pop brand.

And if you're wondering what to drink, all the experts recommended plain water (no surprise). “My other favorite drinks are unsweetened iced tea or flavored sparkling water,” said Lona Sandon, associate professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. “These help keep you hydrated and have no added sugar calories,” she said.

Above all, when you're snacking on the go, “don't let perfect be the enemy of good,” Anderson said.

“Eating different foods can be a fun and enjoyable part of the trip,” he added. “You don't want to miss too much by micromanaging.”



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