Saturday 01 Nov 2014

Information and opinions presented here do not always represent the views of the American Heart Association.

Heart healthy Thanksgiving travel tips

Published: 3:26 pm CDT, November 20, 2012

According to AAA, an estimated 43 million Americans will be traveling over 50 miles from home to arrive to their holiday destination this year. You can bet that the taste of hot turkey, mouth-watering mashed potatoes, and fresh pumpkin pie will be on their minds!

 So how do you make the right choices while you hit the road this holiday season?

 Start with a plan. Just like a roadmap, don’t get off track. Prepare to pack healthy snacks so you’re not tempted to grab a candy bar or grilled hot dog while at the gas station. A small cooler or tote filled with cheese sticks, sliced apples, carrot sticks, and crackers or granola bars will satisfy your snack craving for hours and they are easy to transport.

 Pack water. Many people think drinking caffeinated beverages like sodas and coffee will help you stay awake while driving. Caffeine actually dehydrates your body which leads to a decrease in your energy level! So be sure to pack plenty of water to hydrate, ease digestion, and stay alert.

 If you can’t pack it, find heart-healthy options on the road. If you can’t pack your own healthy sandwiches, plan to choose healthy options when you spot a restaurant at the top of the exit ramp. Sandwich shops have many healthy options – since there is no additional charge for veggie toppings, be sure to load up with spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes and other fiber-filled, vitamin packed vegetables. Look for fresco or “light” menu options, or check out the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check certified meals. Look for options that are 700 calories or less for the entire meal. For more nutrition guidelines, please go to  http://bit.ly/TOif4F.

Put your smartphone to work for you. And of course, there is an “app” for everything! If you have a smartphone, you can download apps like Restaurant Nutrition. It’s free and you will have over a hundred fast food restaurants at your fingertips to look up nutrition information instantly.

 Stretch it out. Don’t forget to make a pit stop for stretching and exercise. There are several restaurants that offer an indoor play area. Let the kids jump around and climb while parents enjoy a quiet meal. The kids may even tire out for a nap later on! Bring a soccer ball or basketball to play with at a rest area. Kick or bounce the balls around for a good 15 minutes while everyone else rearranges luggage or takes bathroom breaks. And don’t park in the closest spot-park father away, take the steps instead of elevator, etc.

 Keep calm and carry on. Peace and quiet are also musts to staying happy and healthy while traveling. Prepare games ahead of time. Travel with a deck of cards, a good book, splurge on some magazines, and bring a craft project. Make a scavenger hunt list ahead of time. Give each player a list of items to find before the trip is over. Items can include: a billboard written in a foreign language, a black cow, bird of prey, white barn, license plate from Canada, orange traffic cone, etc. Use your imagination!

 Expect the unexpected. Expect a minor bump in the road every now and then, but enjoy your holiday trip using the simple suggestions listed above. If all else fails, lay back and try to take a nap while you dream of Grandmas cranberry sauce.