Healthy snacks for airplanes, trains and automobiles

Across the river and across the forest, I wish it were that easy. For most people, traveling involves waiting for hours at an airport or railway station or driving for hours. At some point, you’ll need a snack.

It can be difficult to eat a healthy snack while in transit. Grab-and-go options are likely to be processed or ultra-processed foods that are high in fat, high in sodium and low in fiber, said Kaylee Anderson, a registered dietitian and faculty member at the American College of Lifestyle Medicine.

Deviating from your normal routine when you travel can lead to an unexpected increase in appetite, he said. And for example, it may be hard to sit down for a meal because of time pressure to catch a flight or train.

Boredom eating is also common on long journeys, said Shona Halson, a professor and behavioral science researcher at Australian Catholic University in Brisbane. Research has shown that boredom can increase the desire to snack, as well as the desire to eat unhealthy foods.

Having a less-than-optimal snack occasionally during the day isn’t a big deal, Ms. Anderson said: One bad breakfast or even an entire trip’s worth of meals isn’t going to make or break your health. But if good food on the road is a priority, here are some expert strategies and tips.

The key to travel snacking is to plan ahead, said Christopher Taylor, professor of medical dietetics and family medicine at Ohio State University. If you can be less reactive, that gives you a big advantage.

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

Nuts are Ms. Salge Blake’s favorite choice. These are heart-healthy and a source of fiber, which most Americans lack in their diets, he said. Pistachios are her favorite because, unlike many other nuts, they are a complete protein source, meaning they contain all nine essential amino acids. But all nuts contain protein, he said, which helps keep you feeling full.

He also recommended packing dried fruits like apricots and raisins, for example, as they are a source of potassium and fiber. That said, eat fruits and nuts together and you’ll have a great sweet and salty snack.

Hummus with veggie sticks carrots, red peppers, jicama, celery is at the top of my list, says Lisa Young, a registered dietitian in private practice in New York. Chickpeas in hummus are another complete protein.

If you’re traveling by car, the ability to pack your own cooler is an advantage, Dr. Taylor said. He suggests stocking up on protein-rich foods like cold chicken or hard-boiled eggs. Nut-butter sandwiches made with whole-grain bread are another healthy option, she said.

If packing snacks ahead of time isn’t realistic, many airports and train terminals now have market-like food shops that sell produce and salads, and grocery stores that are an easy alternative to gas stations when you’re driving somewhere. Are. Many places prepare healthy foods, such as bento boxes with vegetables and hummus, Ms. Anderson said.

Dr. Taylor recommends trail mix as a relatively healthy, satisfying, and convenient alternative to what you can find almost everywhere.

Ms. Salge Blake voted for seeds, especially pumpkins and sunflowers. Similar to nuts, they’re a good source of fiber, protein and potassium, he said. She suggests adding seeds or trail mix to store-bought protein-rich Greek yogurt, if you can find it, to make parfaits.

When it comes to energy or protein bars, choose ones that have nuts, seeds or fruits at the top of their ingredient list, Ms. Salge Blake said. That said, I like KIND bars. But any bar with a lot of nuts will definitely contain some protein and fiber.

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

Dr. Young likes popcorn, which is a whole grain and contains fiber. He suggested making air poppers at home, but said he also likes the Skinny Pop brand.

And if you’re wondering what to drink, all the experts recommend plain water (no surprise). My other favorite drinks are unsweetened iced tea or flavored sparkling water, says Lona Sandon, MD, associate professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. They help keep you hydrated and don’t contain added sugar calories, he said.

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

That said, eating different foods can be a fun and enjoyable part of traveling. You don’t want to miss out by micromanaging too much.

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