There is a theory based on wishful thinking that “vacation calories” don’t count. If you are vacation bound and find your eyes blurring from driving non-stop, and the glowing lights from the gas station are making you hungry, there is hope; there are smart choices to be made.
Here are some guidelines based on a book called “Eat This, Not That."This will see you though your drive time and keep your belly from growling. Best of all you’ll be ready to indulge in a real sit-down meal once you get to your destination.
Salty snacks – chips and more
Look for Baked Doritos, Baked Tostitos or baked potato chips. Funyons also fall in this category. True North makes an Almond Crisp that is healthy and crunchy. Pretzels are generally a good choice; consider Snyders and Rold Gold Classic. Cheeze-It and a new snack mix from Cheerios are also good.
Avoid regular Tostitos, Fritos, Bugles and Cheetos. Don’t be mislead by claims like a “pinch of salt”, “natural” cheese” or even “multi-grain”. The fat and calorie counts are significant. Olestra, found in Lay’s “light original fat-free” chips does keep the chips fat free, but may cause intestinal discomfort. Ritz Toasted Chips and Quakes Rice Snacks fare poorly. Chex Mix, Combos (any flavor) and Rold Gold sourdough pretzels have surprising amounts of sodium, and extra calories.
Fruits and nuts
Some nuts like almonds, pistachios and peanuts have less fat and more protein than cashews and macadamia nuts. Avoid those with corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oils. Craisins by Ocean Spray are a tart and healthy snack. If you are looking to stay alert, try unshelled pumpkin and sunflower seeds. These will keep you busy and have lots of minerals.
Beware of “fruit snack” foods. This means it is a processed amalgamation of many different ingredients- fruit being over whelmed by oil, sugar and color. Yogos with fruit flavored bits list the first ingredient as sugar. Even premium dried pineapple from Sunsweet contains sweeteners and preservatives.
Nabisco Ginger Snaps, Oreo Fudgees and Chips Ahoy chewy chocolate chips are better choice if you are craving sweets. Hostess cup cakes, Twinkies and even the pink colored Snoballs are the lesser of the junk food evils if you really need a sugar fix. For candy try: Twizzlers, LifeSaver Gummies, Jolly Ranchers, Raisinets, and Reese’s peanut butter cups.
You should try to steer clear of Suzy Q’s, Little Debbie Oatmeal Crème Pie, and Strawberry roll-ups. Also avoid candy like: Skittles, Sour Patch, Starburst, Mike and Ikes, Snickers, Twixt PB and Butterfinger.
If you find the white lines starting to blur, and the car indicator signals to get gas soon, then don’t be afraid to pull over. Both you and your car need fuel to keep going. Pump some gas and get a good snack. If you need some beach reading take along the "Eat This, Not That" series of books and you'll avoid the pitfalls of fast-food restaurants as well.