Friday, August 20, 2010

More Eating on the Road Thoughts

We just got back from our 11 day sojourn to the Midwest. I really think we had very successful eating while traveling. No, we were not perfect - we are human after all. But a few thoughts have been rolling around in my head, and I thought I'd put them out here to share.

Success #1 - Car Foods
I have oddly fond memories of eating some pretty junky stuff in the car as a kid. Anybody remember these? And of course, I had most of McDonald's and Wendy's menus memorized at a rather young age. I no longer remember their menus since I haven't eaten fast food in several years (minus pregnancy induced weakness for crispy chicken from McD's - blech). Anyway, I'm pretty sure my childhood car trips were an excuse for eating all sorts of stuff I may or may not have had more regularly. I think my kids will have very different memories. Here is a list of snacks we packed for all of us:
  • Fruit - plums, nectarines, peaches, grapes
  • Vegetables - cucumbers, tomatoes
  • "Crunchies" - Puffins cereal, Ak-Mak crackers, Kashi TLC crackers.
The "crunchies" were in the trunk of the Outback, but the fruits and veggies were in a cooler we could reach fairly easily from the front seat. When the kids got hungry, they started with the fruit and veggies before we even mentioned the "crunchies." This worked amazingly well! The kids were eating a medium size cucumber each day. We had to restock fruit by the time we arrived at our destination (2 days of driving).

Edit: We did buy a bag of Chex Mix while on the road. The kids only sort of liked some of it and greatly preferred our options. Also, Aaron had some roasted peanuts, and I chose to indulge a few completely unhealthy desserts on the way home.

Success #2 - Eating Out
Eating out is REALLY hard for me since I'm trying to watch my weight and trying to teach my kids healthy eating. It's so easy to pop into a drive-through "McWendyKing" (Aaron's name for any fast food place) and just keep driving. We didn't. Here's where we ate while on the road:
  • Panera - in NY, they provide calorie counts on their menu! Also they have a good kids' menu.
  • Subway - nutritional information easily available AND marketing to guide you in picking healthier options (low-fat, low-calories, etc.). Thanks fellow Hoosier Jared!!
  • Sandwich picnics at various state parks - this meant we planned sandwiches and found parks.
I must say that we all really enjoyed the picnics since we had a chance to stretch and enjoy some nature. I have new love for Panera as well, and Subway was a good fallback option.

Success #3 - Eating at our various stops
When we were eating with our in-laws, it was super easy to be healthy because they already eat so healthfully and are very supportive of all the kids and grandkids. When we chose to eat out, I found myself choosing salads, grilled chicken with vegetables and being quite aware of portion control and choices I was making.

Did I eat junk while on the road? Sure! I had 2 shakes from Steak N Shake. I had Chocolate Suicide cake from Round the Clock. I had Reese's Pieces at the movies. I overate at Leona's (one of our favorite Chicago-area restaurants), which isn't to say I chose junk but to say I ate too much then. And you know what? I knew that the choices I was making were temporary and not a change in how I wanted to eat in general. And yes, my family also ate some junk or at least less than ideal things (lots of pizza, mac n cheese, and even ice cream for the kids though I am not sure it's so terrible to eat ice cream *grin*). For me, it matters that I am aware of my choice to deviate from the norm and that I am aware of how much and what I'm putting in my body. And it matters that we are back to good eating here at home.

One of the best parts of coming home has been a return to cooking. Aaron was restauranted out (his words), and the kids were ecstatic to have olive pesto last night and today. We're heading back on the road for a shorter trip on Sunday, but I have faith that we can continue to feed ourselves well with good choices.

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