It’s all too easy to find an excuse to binge eat all our favorite unhealthy foods. That temptation is at least doubled when you leave for a trip though. After all, for many of us, unhealthy road trip foods are just nostalgic. Who doesn’t remember a parent handing you a five or ten dollar bill and sending you into the gas station to get some snacks? You come back out with a grin on your face as big as the pile of snacks in your arms. A can of pringles topples from the mountain of soda cans, candy bars, and mini-donuts, skittering its way across the gas station parking lot.
That’s an appealing memory. When we leave to go on road trips as adults, it’s easy to let impulse feelings arising from memory control what we eat. And hey, to be clear, if you want to eat unhealthy foods all vacation long, that’s your prerogative! No judgment here. But if you’re like me, and you want to eat healthily while you travel, it takes a bit of effort and a lot of planning.
First things first, we gotta talk about getting out the door with a full belly and something healthy in hand/cooler. If you’re planning on being in a car/plane/train/bus for a chunk of time, it’s worth planning out your meals ahead of time. Sandwiches, nuts, and fruits are all excellent choices for healthy food on the go. If you can eat ahead of time, that gives you a few bonus hours before cravings set in, which in turn gives you time to plan out your future healthy meals. For multi-day car trips, you can set destinations along the way that coincide with when you’ll need healthy foods. If you wait until you’re running low on travel food, it becomes a whole lot easier to just swing through a fast food place or a store delicatessen.
Then again, for some people life really is about the destination, not the journey. Maybe your parents always made it a point to pack healthy foods for the car, but then when you got to your vacation point, you ate out for every meal. This is certainly understandable. After all, part of going on vacation is getting to try new restaurants and local cuisine, right? Definitely. But eating out can be just as healthy as making your own meals.
Just for the sake of discussion, let’s say you’re travelling to Denver. Why Denver? Because the Mile High City also happens to be the birthplace of that most stereotypical of unhealthy foods, the cheeseburger. Yet even in the birthplace of the least healthy food in modern history, you can make a conscious choice to eat healthy. Let’s talk about two places that even the most health-conscious person on the planet couldn’t object to.
Watercourse Foods is the downtown Denver vegetarian restaurant you’ve been waiting for. You ever see a restaurant and immediately wish it was in your backyard? Well, you’ll get that feeling at Watercourse Foods. This restaurant was inspired by the half-adorable and half-terrifying kids book, Watership Down, which follows the exploits of a bunch of bunnies trying to find a safe home. In addition to the beautiful bunny murals on the walls, Watercourse Foods offers delicious upscale vegetarian and vegan dishes that even your most carnivorous friends can appreciate.
Another local Denver restaurant, Superfood Bar, offers a vegan raw-foods menu along with vegan and gluten free smoothies, salads, and more. This is a very intimate locale, perfect for a date or small group gathering.
Now, unless you’re currently in a Denver based Stay Alfred travel apartment, you probably won’t get to enjoy the foods I’ve been taunting you with anytime soon. So, why are we discussing these restaurants? Because even in the city that invented cheeseburgers, there are plenty of amazing healthy restaurants for you to enjoy. That pretty much proves that you can find health food anywhere in the modern world.
There’s really only one more thing that you need to know to get started with hitting the road with healthy eats. And this part is key, so listen up. Okay, here goes: it is okay to be imperfect. Don’t beat yourself up because you order a soda with your salad, or even for ordering the most sugary dessert you can find on a menu! Eating healthy is a lifelong goal, and noone is doing it exactly right. The best thing you can do for yourself is set healthy eating goals that you know you can achieve. After all, traveling is meant to be freeing and fun! So if focusing on eating healthily is taking all the joy away from your vacation, it’s time to reevaluate your goals. Enjoy your healthy eats on the road my friends!