Tis the season … for traveling. Many military families are likely PCS-ing, going on vacation, or visiting relatives during summer break. By now I’m sure you’ve packed the GPS, iPod, and travel documents, but have you thought about what you’ll be eating?
I’ll never forget a plane trip I took last year (ironically, to a national nutrition conference). I was running late, and as I approached my gate at the airport I realized just how starving I was. Knowing I’d never survive the next few hours on a tiny bag of airline pretzels, I quickly resorted to a popular fast food chain located next to the gate.
On the flight, I devoured my spicy chicken sandwich. It tasted great, especially because I was so hungry and stressed from rushing. However, it only took about fifteen minutes for me to realize that I had made a horrible mistake. My stretchy, comfortable jeans soon felt like a vice around my midsection – hello food-baby! As I squirmed to get comfortable I felt heartburn creep into my chest. The air in the cabin felt oppressive as nausea set in. Overall, I felt miserable.
Have you had a similar experience? Or maybe you’ve suggested/heard the following statements:
Instead of lunch, let’s just grab some snacks from the convenience store.
Fast food is all we have time for right now.
I haven’t eaten in hours – I just need something NOW!
Admittedly, when you’re on the go it’s easy to rely on fast food items, salty snacks, and other junk food, but it may come with a price. High-fat, high-salt foods – like my regrettable spicy chicken sandwich – can lead to heartburn, sluggishness, and bloating.
Did you know foods high in fat can also worsen motion sickness? For example, one of my friends recently took a cross-country PCS trip with her very carsick-prone child. She quickly learned that donuts for breakfast were out of the question; they’d always come back up!
Furthermore, depending on the ingredients and your body’s response, you may also get gas, cramps, or even worse: food poisoning. Pair that with sitting in a car or an airplane for the next few hours. Not so fun. (I’ll spare you another horror story of my bout with “tourista” that struck during a return flight from Mexico.)
Take a look at these quick tips to make traveling a little easier on your stomach.
Instead of relying on the greasy truck-stop or airport foods, it really helps to plan ahead. During one road trip, my family made sandwiches and brought them in a cooler for a guaranteed delicious, cheap, no-fuss solution. Plus, it spared us the inevitable “Taco Bell versus Arby’s” debate.
Finding a sub shop or deli with fresh, low-fat options is another idea. Or, stick to the fast food joints but opt for salads and fruit. It also helps to stock up on trail mix, unsalted pretzels, and bagged fruits and veggies for snacking on the go.
Nix the caffeine-overdose and opt for water, 100 percent juice, or low-sugar teas. Staying hydrated will keep up your stamina without the crash and burn. If you feel tired, it may help to break for a snack or a short walk; otherwise your body may be telling you to call it a day. (Note: as a lover of all things iced coffee, yes, a serving or two is fine. Eight cups by the end of the day? Ehh…not so much.)
Eating fresh, healthy foods on the road will give you and your family energy without weighing you down, making you sleepy, or causing other unwanted side effects (no more food-baby-bellies here!) I think we can all agree that traveling to a new duty station or to vacation is hectic enough! Tummy-troubles are the last thing we need to worry about.
What are some of your travel-fueling tips? Please share in the comments section below!