We love answering questions from our readers! This is a three part series that covers what healthy foods are great to bring along on a trip, how to store those foods to stay fresh and how to make sure there’s as little waste as possible, and how to do all of it on a tight budget. These tips can also be used for those who need to prepare food for a typical day at work.
Here’s the question:
“My husband is a diabetic and we both drive semi trucks; we bring meals we make at home but we still eat sandwiches as we drive. Is there any way to cut back on the bread and processed meats?”
I’ll start by saying you’re on the right track by bringing your own meals from home. That’s definitely something you want to continue and even to bring more than you already do to avoid eating at gas stops and restaurants. In part 1 of this three-part series, we tackle the best health foods to travel with.
Let’s start with healthy meat and protein sources
Instead of eating the typical cold cuts, which are processed and usually contain high salt content, you want to try roasted chicken or turkey. You can roast it yourself, portion it and store it, or purchase it from the store and do the same.
If you’re stuck and have to purchase the cold cuts, make sure to stick with the lower sodium versions of chicken and turkey.
How about non-meat alternatives. New research from Louisiana State University found that people who regularly eat tree nuts, including almonds, macadamias, pistachios, walnuts, and cashews have a lower risk for Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Almonds, for instance, are an excellent source of several vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E and manganese. They are also a good source of protein, fiber, copper, riboflavin, and even calcium.
The best part about nuts is that they’re portable and per serving very inexpensive. I’ll show you the math in part 3 of this series.
Replacing that bread is actually easier than you’d believe
First, start by cooking a large batch of whole grain basmati or brown rice. Wholegrain basmati rice and brown whole grain rice have the lowest GI (glycemic index) score of all rice types, which means once digested it releases its energy slowly keeping blood sugar levels more stable, which is a crucial part of diabetes management.
Store the rice in an airlock container and store in a cooler (for those on the go). You can put the roasted turkey or chicken right on top of it to save space. When stored at temperatures similar to a refrigerator or in an actual fridge, rice will last about a week. This hopefully is enough time for you to reprep and continue.
If you’re in a real pinch, you can go for whole wheat or whole grain wraps to replace the sandwich bread.
How about we add some color, as well
Cooked vegetables last about a week when stored properly. I like peppers, broccoli, and asparagus cooked to al dente seasoned with lemon juice, garlic/garlic powder, and cracked pepper.
Salad mixes are great for traveling. Depending on your storage capacity, you can make a salad in a large sealable bowl and portion it out when needed or go the single portion route.
Let’s talk about worst case scenarios
You’re stuck without prepped food and are traveling across country. What are you to do?
Always try to make pit stops near shopping centers. Places like Target, Super Walmarts, and grocery stores are where you need to start marking for pit stops.
I did a couple of years of traveling myself when I was remodeling retail outlets up and down the East Coast of the US. I would always carry a small/medium-size cooler with me and add grocery stores to the way points on my GPS. I’m a huge snacker, and I always get myself into trouble in convenience stores, but once I started only hitting gas stations near shopping/grocery plazas, I not only spent less on food but also ate healthier, as well.
Snacking while traveling is a major culprit when it comes to poor eating choices, whether it’s a candy bar, bag of chips, or any of the other super-tempting choice a convenience store provides.
Again, stick with finding shopping centers with grocery stores and gas stations. Head right to the produce section and snack on diabetic-friendly fruits and vegetables. Dip those veggies into hummus (made with chickpeas/garbanzo beans and sesame seed mash) or tzatziki (made with cucumbers and yogurt) to add some flavor. Hummus is calorie-dense but also offers fiber and nutrients.
Hard-boiled eggs provide a protein punch and travel anywhere you do. You can also mash a hard-boiled egg with about a teaspoon of low-fat mayonnaise, or add an extra egg white or two for more protein. Eat this diabetes snack with five multigrain-crackers or spread on a slice of whole-grain bread.
That’s all for Part 1 – click here for part 2 of managing diabetes on the road!
In the comments below, let us know if you’ll be implementing any of these tips.
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Hi I’m Kyle Jensen the Wellness Coach at Smart Diabetes Solutions. Through poor eating habits and an inactive lifestyle I put myself in a bad state both physically and mentally. After years of retraining my mind and body I decided to take my newfound understanding of health and help others in their journey. I remember the struggle and how many times I almost gave up. Now I want to help others who are overweight or have Diabetes live a happier more healthy life.