DR. LEPISTO: Tips for eating healthy on the road
Free Press Health Columnist
Last night a group of us were talking. At the suggestion of a friend, I’d been thinking about eating habits when people leave home and about my own “traditions” when I can count on more than a couple hours in the truck.
I was pondering those times I do well and those times when I fall so far off the wagon that climbing back on feels like climbing Mt. Everest. During last night’s gathering, the general consensus was that eating while traveling is tricky business at best, so I asked everyone what advice they would give when they go on tour. The results were pretty interesting.
1. Eat a banana — I like eating bananas for breakfast. They are tasty, give quick energy and can even help in the same way the old American standby Immodium AD helps us, without needing to reach for the bottle of pharmaceuticals. One woman remarked that it seems to be the catch-all recommendation for what to eat when something just isn’t quite right.
You know, “My stomach is upset, what should I eat?” Eat a banana. Or, “I feel my blood sugar dropping, what can I do?” Eat a banana. Or maybe “I‘m so bored with myself, now what?” Eat a banana. The trouble is, that a banana never really seems to do it. For this woman, eating a banana does NOT take away her hunger and now she is even hungrier because her stomach has been left completely unfulfilled. Her advice? Eat some nuts.
2. Eat some nuts — OK, so you eat some nuts; probably not plain almonds as they are about as interesting as a lecture on traffic flow in Walmart, but some nuts more noteworthy. You can find salty, spicy, curried, sweet orangey, tamaried, plain and raw. This is one snack that actually does seem to work. You eat some nuts and you get your appetite satiated in a way that fruit just cannot do. Easy to transport; easy to find; they store well even in the heat of summer; they even help people lose weight. Pick one and yes, eat some nuts.
3. Only get food when you are hungry — You know how this goes. You try to keep it simple by avoiding the hassle of a cooler and a big box of food in the car. For guys in particular this seems to have an appeal. “I’ll just rough it, eat whenever I need to, wherever I find it.” Sounds simple, doesn’t it.
So you starve your way to Price, Utah, or Georgetown, Colo., and suddenly the hunter/gatherer kicks in and you end up at… the Conoco station, in the refrigerated section, selecting a wilted lettuce plastic sandwich on smashed limp bread. Or a roller-grilled hot dog made fresh for you nine hours ago. John, a guy in his 60s said it best: “You should only buy gas at a gas station.”
4. Bring good food, eat good food — This one works for me. If I bring good snacks, I eat good snacks. I like those spicy pumpkin seeds at Vitamin Cottage, a bag of tortilla chips with a tub of fresh salsa or apples and almond butter. They fit easily in your cooler with enough room for an ice pack, which doubles as headache relief if you eat too much sugar.
5. Bring a picnic lunch — This one will help those of you, who like me can have that tendency of mindlessly mowing through that bag of chips. It usually starts out as the thought that you’d rather just drive than take the time to stop, moving into that blank road stare while the hand moves endlessly from bag to mouth, ending with that obvious question, “Why does my stomach suddenly hurt?”
Bring the cooler with your picnic lunch and take out the blanket you’ve already got in the car. Stop at a rest station, find one of those trees with the inviting shade, and relax.
6. Eat small, frequent meals — Do you really need to pack away that super-sized Big Mac, in preparation for the endurance fest of sitting on your butt? Skip it, and give your body the benefit of steady blood sugar balance with a light meal. This tells your body that the food supply is plentiful, so it’s just fine to keep the brain well fed. While we humans are designed to fast for long periods of time (think feast and famine), this is only possible if we are taking very good care of ourselves on a regular basis.
7. And finally, drink more water — Enough said.
I hope you can make time for vacation. With the kids out of school, summer now here and road trips either in full swing or quickly upon you, may you find wisdom at that moment of food choice. Here’s to eating well on your journey and a relaxed, enjoyable trip.
Dr. Christopher Lepisto graduated as a naturopathic doctor (ND) from Bastyr University in Seattle, Wash. He is a native of Grand Junction and opened his practice here in 2004. Previously, Lepisto lived and worked in New Zealand, where he developed a special interest in indigenous herbal medicines. For more information, visit http://www.grandjunctionnaturopath.com or call 970-250-4104.
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