Road trip!

Traveling can be one of the most complicated things you can do on a diet. Thankfully, low-carb diets are easier than most. However, a little bit of pre-planning can be helpful, as it’s really easy to get caught somewhere and need a quick meal – maybe it’s an airport, a lonely stretch of road, or someplace with only fast food restaurants in sight.

You just can’t count on fast food, like you normally might in an emergency – there’s not much on the menu that isn’t deep-fried, breaded, bunned, or slathered with sauces. Most people are looking for carbohydrate heaven, and that’s what they get. Then there are convenience stores – filled with chips, pretzels, pastries, and candy. So what to do? Bring your own emergency food with you – all the time. And know how to navigate those convenience stores to find what you want. Here are some ideas:

Car and plane food: Almonds are great, like the all-purpose snack. They are high in protein and relatively low in carbs, but eat them sparingly. You’ll find that just a handful goes a long way. Cheese is good too – choose a kind that’s easy to transport and eat, like string cheese. Protein snacks like beef jerky and pepperoni sticks work well too. Just check the labels for hidden carbs in the form of teriyaki or other flavorings. And crunchy veggies that are low in carbs provide some variety, like bell pepper slices or celery with almond butter (requires tupperware). Lastly, it doesn’t hurt to carry a power bar for emergencies. Because most bars you can get in a grocery store are really high in carbs, you’ll need to stick to Atkins bars or, even better, the lower-carb natural ingredient Questbar.

Convenience stores: Many of the snacks described above (almonds, string cheese, pepperoni, beef jerky) can be found in convenience stores, along with all the things you don’t want to eat. In addition, you may find something like Lunchables (minus the crackers), cans of tuna (sometimes with their own little forks), or (eep) pork rinds. I have never tried a pork rind, but lots of people like them and they’re a good chip substitute – crispy, high in protein, zero carbs. And if you really want to go back to your childhood, you can always have one of those hotdogs on the rotating heat thingies… OK, maybe we won’t go there :D Needless to say, food you bring yourself will be fresher and healthier, but there are convenience store options.

Fast food: If you’re really stuck with nothing but fast food options, you can still make do. One option is to get the burger or the grilled chicken sandwich and just remove the bun. Add cheese, bacon, lettuce, and tomatoes for more flavor, protein, and healthy fiber. Another option is to look for a salad that has some protein in it, and skip any carb-rich toppings or croutons. A taco salad minus the shell might work well, as long as there are no beans in it, or a chicken Caeser or chef’s salad.

With just a little planning, you will never go hungry on a trip or risk breaking your diet. And that’s a good thing, because we all love to travel!

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