Although powering through and grabbing a fast-food meal seems like a good idea, making that choice is the first step to throwing off eating patterns.
The road trip for the family summer vacation is underway, and it's lunchtime. Although powering through and grabbing a fast-food meal seems like a good idea, making that choice is the first step to throwing off eating patterns. Lori Mooney from the Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition at Nationwide Children's Hospital encourages families to think about food before they even leave for a trip. "Pack things to go with you," said Mooney. "Healthy snacks like string cheese, air-popped popcorn, home(made) trail mix, hard-boiled eggs and yogurt." Mooney encourages these foods because they are portable, nutrient-dense and easy to pack for the car or plane. Package snacks in Ziploc bags or reusable containers (so each kid can have their own stash) and bring a cooler with freezer packs for items that need to stay cold. Laura Robertson-Boyd, a Bexley mom of two and executive chef at Local Matters, also recommends packing meals that include fruits, veggies and sandwiches. "If we are in the car, I like to pack picnic food," said Robertson-Boyd. "You can stop at a rest area and let the kids run around if the weather is decent and nice." Vacations tend to be jam-packed with sightseeing and activities, but Mooney suggests sticking to a schedule as often as possible. "Don't expect kids to go 5 or 6 hours without eating," she said. "Make sure you are prepared. Swing it so that your schedule allows for that." Securing a hotel room with a refrigerator or kitchenette can help manage vacation eats. Stock the room with cereal for breakfast to save money and keep things healthier. Robertson-Boyd offered another hint: Have kids split meals to keep portion sizes more natural. She credits large portion sizes as one of the biggest health challenges of eating on the road, for both kids and adults. Once vacation is over (and sadly, they all must come to an end!), work to return to a routine as soon as possible to help kids get back on track. "Oftentimes with vacations we are sleeping in more and have late nights," said Mooney. "Food intake and activity level gets back to a reasonable area if a sleep schedule does." Most importantly, keep in mind that, even while traveling, children look to Mom and Dad when developing their eating habits. "Don't forget," said Mooney, "parents need to be a healthy role model for the kids."