Fun Food Talk: Road Chow

In this lifestyle article in USA Today, published last September, registered dietician and nutrition blogger Elizabeth Ward advocates for high-sodium, processed fast food as healthy food options. For breakfast, a McDonald’s Egg McMuffin or french toast sticks at Burger King? For dinner, a cheeseburger and salad with dressing or, whoa, Beefaroni? I’m all for convenience and practicality, but when you’re labeling something “healthy,” there’s a line that shouldn’t be crossed.

This is appalling. Healthy isn’t just about calories and a balanced meal doesn’t mean balanced between the levels of fat and sodium content. Being on the road doesn’t mean being checked out of the sanity department when it comes to feeding you and your family a healthy – and cost-effective – diet.

On the contrary, it’s a prime chance to get the whole family – kids of all ages, too – to collaborate on their meals, making it a fun project. Bring the cooler, people, and pack your own fresh snacks, something like sandwiches, fruit, water, 100% juice, veggie and cookies. I’m not a registered dietician, but I do know I’d rather feed my family food with ingredients that I can actually read and identify.

Speaking of family, Ward is apparently the author of several books on nutrition, including Expect the Best: Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During and After Pregnancy. If her suggestions for “healthy” road food is any indication, I shudder to think about what she’s recommending moms-to-be introduce their impressionable, unbrand-loyaltyed children. Parents are role models, including when it comes to our eating habits, and teaching toddlers and kids that it’s okay to stuff yourself with edible “food” items just because it’s low in calories is not a lesson we should be presenting.

For some other road or picnic food ideas, check out these links. There’s the snacks and the main food. And for the family full of kids, there’s always this list of tips from Disney Family and Road Trip America.

On the vegan front, there’s Jennifer McCann’s day trip lunch for her and her preteen son, as seen on Vegan Lunch Box. McCann also has a suggestion for a large vegetarian picnic spread.

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