TILLAMOOK COUNTY WELLNESS: Eating Healthy on the Road


By: Mis Carlson-Swanson, Tillamook County Wellness Advisory Committee Member
Winter is my time for planning for the warmer, longer days of spring and summer. These plans usually include adventure and exploration, breaking the day-to-day routines, and getting back in touch with my free spirit. Destinations near and far pop into my mind, and I begin to dream and form plans. Road Trips…aren’t they the best?! Yes, if you have/take time to plan, and the determination to stick to the plan. As I get older, I find that how I eat during a lengthy road trip can make or break the experience. If I don’t stick to my plan, I tend to feel tired, sore, and a bit foggy (Not exactly how you want to feel when you are exploring new places.)

Day 1 of a road trip usually starts out well … breakfast at home before we hit the road, then drive until the tank gets close to empty. Time to look for a gas station. Oh yeah, and a visit to the restroom, which is usually located at the back of the gas station, requiring us to walk through aisles lined with candy bars, chips, ice cream bars, sodas, energy drinks, and hot dogs spinning on the heating unit, just waiting to be put in a bun and slathered with condiments. And then I remember my plan, and say to myself “Wait, I have my healthy snacks all packed and ready to eat in my cooler in the vehicle,” right? Maybe on Day 1, but by Day 2 or 3, that determination can start to waiver a bit, and the bright colors and shiny wrappers of the “not-so-healthy” choices are harder to ignore. You can even begin to taste the salt and sugar, and feel the bubbles on your tongue….WAIT! Ok, maybe it’s just me, but my resolve does not typically last past Day 1.

Often, there is a McDonalds somewhere close to the gas station. Whew! A healthy alternative! “WHAT!?” you may be saying. But, yes, it can be true! Many don’t realize that you can order “al a carte” off of the menu, and if you use the new self-serve order stands in many McDonald’s, you can add and remove condiments and toppings to adjust the level of healthy. Here is my favorite…Side Salad with a plain grilled chicken breast and choice of a number of dressings. It’s cheaper, too!

How about an iHop, or Shari’s, or Denny’s? Healthy options, right?! Yes, if you are intentional. Side orders are my favorite part of the menu. So many of their meals include huge extras like hash browns, pancakes, or biscuits, which I love, but need to limit or avoid altogether. But once they are in front of me, warm and smelling delicious, it is so hard to resist. I tell myself I will bring them home in a to-go container for my boys to eat, but do they really? So, side orders of the healthy items you have decided are best for you, come out looking and tasting just as yummy, without the less healthy temptations. Red Robin offers unlimited side-salad or fresh-steamed vegetables instead of bottomless fries, for instance, no additional charge. Club soda is often (not always) a free beverage option that provides the satisfaction of bubbles, saving money, and it tastes even better when you add a twist of lime or lemon.
When I remember and stick to these options when I am traveling, I feel energetic, happy, and ready to go, which is exactly what I want to feel when out on an adventure.
For more local health and wellness information, follow Tillamook County Wellness on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, or go to www.tillamookcountyhealthmatters.org.