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Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: Healthy Travel Food

How to eat well when you're on the go

Take-Along Treats

Here are 7 tips for packing treats to tote along as you travel:

1. Pack a frozen bottle of water. This will keep any perishable foods you've packed chilled for hours. Then, your ice pack becomes a refreshing bottle of ice water to drink! This works with 100% fruit juice in pouches or plastic bottles as well.

2. Power bars or breakfast bars pack well. They're not the perfect food, but if you choose bars with some fiber (at least 3 grams per bar) and protein (at least 5 grams per bar) but not too much sugar (less than 35% calories from fat) or fat, they aren't bad at all. You can find good choices among the following brands: Clif, Odwalla, Power Bar Harvest, and Luna.

3. Bring a fast food salad to go. Buy a grilled chicken salad or a spinach or green side salad from one of the fast-food chains (like McDonalds or Wendy's), and keep it chilled with an ice bottle. Then, when you are ready to eat, dress it with a packet of reduced-calorie dressing (McDonald's has a reduced-fat balsamic vinaigrette and Wendy's has a reduced-fat ranch). Don't forget to pack a plastic fork!

4. Try a parfait in a pinch. Bring along a yogurt parfait from McDonald's and keep it cool with an ice water bottle. When you're ready for a cool, creamy treat, just pop off the lid and you're good to go. Don't forget your plastic spoon.

5. Drink your meal. Diet shakes (or meal replacement shakes) may not be the magic diet bullet that some advertisements suggest they are. But some are far preferable to the junk foods people typically grab when traveling, according to WebMD Weight Loss Clinic Director of Nutrition Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD. Look for a shake with less added sugar (around 10-17 grams of sugars per 11-ounce can), and 3 or more grams of fiber, with around 10 grams of protein but not too much fat. Some types to look for are: Slim Fast Optima 50% less sugar, Glucerna Shakes, and Glucerna Weight Loss Shakes. Tip: Freeze a can or two of your favorite flavor the night before you travel. Just before you leave, take the shake out of the freezer and slip it into your carry-on. In about four hours, it will be icy and refreshing. Bring a straw for easy sipping.

6. Munch on some whole-grain crackers. Crackers work well when you're on the go, but make sure you choose a type that has some fiber and not too much fat, such as Ak-Mak, Ry Krisp, or Reduced Fat Triscuit.

7. Pack a deli-style sandwich (with an ice water bottle or ice pack) that you know you'll like instead of taking your chances en route. Use a firmer sandwich roll, which will stand up better in your tote or carry-on. You can even buy a low-fat sandwich at an outlet such as Subway and bring it with you. When making or buying your sandwich, choose mustard instead of mayo, and lean fillers (like turkey breast or lean ham) over higher-fat options like salami or mayo-drenched tuna or chicken salad.

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Reviewed on June 07, 2006

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