Eating well on the road

During the Christmas holidays my husband and I decided to get out of dodge with the kids and head down

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During the Christmas holidays my husband and I decided to get out of dodge with the kids and head down to Bonita Springs, Fla., to visit my dad. With three children the cost of flights south for a family of five can be prohibitive, especially at “The Most Expensive Time of the Year”. We decided to bite the bullet and drive. Our friends had done it for years, how hard could it be?

One thing I quickly learned was that my kids are amazing little travellers, but I hadn’t counted on the impact eating fast food for two straight days would have on all of us. I think given we were newbies to the “driving to Florida” club we did fairly well in terms of planning and execution. And, we really enjoyed the quality time with the kids and they revelled in our stopovers at hotels where we made sure to get one room with two big beds and we all hunkered down after long days in the car to watch movies and get to sleep early for the next day of driving. But after a while the stops for drive-through breakfast, lunch and dinner began to wear thin and more importantly, make all of us (including my fast-food-loving nine-year-old) feel sick. Of course, as an editor for a health magazine I know the impact of eating foods high in fat and low in nutrients over a prolonged period of time, but I didn’t think we’d feel the effects after only two days. Clearly, I hadn’t thought of everything.

By the time we arrived in Florida we were all feeling lethargic, greasy and slightly sick to our stomachs and one of my sons (the one who loves takeout) ended up with a headache and vomited. Now, I know part of this could be related to the long time spent in the car, but I really started to think that things would have been different if I’d packed healthy breakfasts and lunches for the drive.

When it came time to head home, I went to the local Publix and stocked up on yogurt, watermelon and green grapes for breakfasts. For lunches I bought fresh rolls, sandwich meats, sliced cheese, peanut butter and jam. I made sandwiches and packed everything into two soft-sided coolers with some freezer packs. We munched on this food for the two days home, opting for pizza on the one night in our hotel.

The result was that none of us felt sick to our stomachs or had headaches, and I felt better knowing I wasn’t doing some major damage to my waistline. Another great bonus that came out of this trip? My kids have started being aware of how they feel when they eat fast food compared to healthy food and they are making better food choices all on their own–even my fast-food fanatic.

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