Eat well, be well on vacation

Tips for making safe, nutritious choices on the road 

Taking it easy is one of the best parts about a vacation. But while the rest and scenery may do you some good, the same can’t always be said of the food – especially when you’re driving to your destination. Think empty-calorie, gas station munchies. 

And that could spell trouble when you’re watching your waistline or trying to eat a healthy diet. Also, the risk of food poisoning – a would-be vacation spoiler – rises in summertime. “Even though travel through most of Alaska is cooler than in the Lower 48, temperatures are still high enough to cause food poisoning,” says Lauri Ek-Watson, a clinical nutrition manager at Providence Alaska Medical Center. So you’ll also want to keep foods safe while you travel.

Before you hit the road, take these tips in tow: 

1.  Pack some healthy snacks.
Nutritious, portable foods include whole-grain crackers, fresh fruit (washed ahead of time), peanut butter sandwiches, precut veggies, wasabi peas, dried mixed fruit, unsalted nuts or popcorn and even canned or packaged tuna.

2. Cool it.
 If you bring a cooler, pack plenty of ice or a frozen pack. Try to keep the cooler out of the hot trunk. Put a refrigerator thermometer in the cooler to make sure the temperature inside stays below 40 degrees – the safe zone for foods. 

3. Choose wisely.
 If you do stop for a bite, eye the menu for healthier options. Good choices include low-fat smoothies, grilled chicken breast sandwiches and veggie-based dishes.

4. Wash up.
Remember to scrub your hands with soap and water before preparing and eating food. Don’t forget to pack some sanitizer for when you can’t get to a sink. 

5. Know when to toss it.
You might picnic at parks, grill at campgrounds or take restaurant food to-go. If you do, don’t eat anything that’s been sitting out for more than two hours – or one hour on a 90-degree or hotter day. 

Another tip: “Be sure to stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water, low-calorie flavored water or seltzer water,” Ek-Watson adds.