Road Trips and Restaurants - Summer Vacation and Eating Well Can Go Hand in Hand

Being on vacation gives us a break from our usual routines. We sleep in, take it easy and enjoy time with family and friends. What we eat can also change, especially if we are not able to cook for ourselves.

Shirley Kragtwyk-Lefevre, from the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Health Check Program in Alberta, has some advice on how to make healthy food choices when you are away from home. “With a little planning, you can enjoy the freedom of the road and at the same time make sure you have some fun and nutritious snacks and meals,” says Shirley.

Here are a few ideas:

Bring a small cooler and stock it with some healthy options that are easy-to-reach and ready-to-eat when hunger hits. Think:

•    Raw veggies like baby carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and cherry tomatoes
•    Fruit such as bananas, apples, oranges and grapes
•    Fruit cups with 100 per cent fruit juice
•    Dried fruit like raisins, cranberries or apricots
•    Low-fat cheese with whole-grain crackers, mini pitas or bagels
•    Whole-grain cereal (check the ingredient list and Nutrition Facts table to make choices with lower amounts of added sugar and sodium)
•    Low-fat yogurt
•    Granola bars (check food labels carefully)
•    Unsalted nuts and peanut butter (allergy alert!)
•    Unseasoned popcorn without butter
•    Water, low-fat milk or 100 per cent fruit juice

Tip! Go green with your road snacks and drinks. Use reusable and recyclable containers for your foods and beverages and use real (non-disposable) utensils.

Plan ahead. Don’t wait until you are ravenous or it is mealtime to choose the restaurant where you are going to eat. You may be tempted to overeat or may not have healthy options available. Do some research online or take a walk around the area to see what is available.

Check for ‘Health Check.’ The Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Health Check program is now in restaurants, helping you make healthy choices. The Health Check symbol on a menu lets you know it meets nutrient criteria developed by the Foundation’s registered dietitians.

Make the same healthy choices you would when you are not on vacation. Choose meals with lots of vegetables, fruit and whole grains that are lower in sodium and fat. Select simply prepared foods that are grilled, steamed, poached, baked or broiled rather than deep-fried or fried. Watch out for menu items that are served with cream sauces or loaded up with garnishes or heavy sides. Go easy on condiments like ketchup, mayonnaise, soy or teriyaki sauce which can have high amounts of fat, hidden sugar and salt. Ask if nutrition information is available to compare items and make a healthy choice.

Watch the portion size. Many restaurant entrees are larger than they need to be. Consider sharing an entree or ordering a salad, soup or other healthy appetizer as your main meal.


Shirley is the Program Manager for the Health Check program in Alberta restaurants. Her education and experience in these areas has developed into an exciting multi-faceted career as an active educator, speaker and advocate for healthy choices and lifestyles. For more information, visit www.healthcheck.org.