So last week I wrote about how to survive a road trip without eating exclusively from drive-thrus and gas stations. Today, we're sharing the love with our kiddos: those backseat drivers who never have to pee until we've just left the rest area, are always hungry for whatever we don't have, and in my personal experience, want to hear "Computer Assisted Design" by They Might Be Giants 50 kazillion times in a row.
But we love 'em, so we do it! And also, we make sure their little tummies have lots of good healthy food to eat (because who knows what their grandparents will give them to eat when you get there).
The basics for getting kids to eat healthy on the road are pretty much same as for yourself: plan it, and do it! Here's what I have found helps a lot:
1. Include them in the plan. Kids are waaay more likely to eat stuff that they help make. So, ask them what kind of snacks they'd like to have in the car, and give them a few options to choose between (all stuff you're cool with, of course). I'll usually put together little snack-size ziplocks of blueberries, homemade muffins, or trail mix of raisins, Annie's Cheddar Bunnies, and sunflower seeds . Of course, on our last trip my precious angel decided he hated blueberries. All the more for me, kiddo!
2. Pack in advance. Same as you do for yourself, pack them a little snack bag. If you have the space, let them have their own insulated bag just for their snacks. Make sure to include bottled water so you don't rely on juice boxes or, worse, soda. Silly straws are good for making water fun. It works for grown-ups, too.
3. Scope out the nutritious kids' menus. Or better yet, skip them entirely. Kids' menus are a joke these days, full of fat and calories and with portion sizes that are large enough for an adult! But, I was shocked to see salad on the kids' menu at McAlister's and also dismayed to see at Panera that the kids' grilled cheese had fewer calories than peanut better and jelly. When my son ate a PB&J there, I knew why: they put half the jar of jelly on his sandwich. Scrape off what you can to limit the sugar, supplement your own sides (applesauce, raisins, etc.), and always be prepared to have a picnic! Rest areas are superb places to have a healthy lunch and let the kids run around in nature's playground. Have you ever been in one of those fast food playplaces? Grody to the max!!!
4. Set the expectation early. If kids think that eating in fast food restaurants is a treat, they will be set up for a lifetime of disappointment. Eating fast food is only going to make them sick and overweight as adults. So, talk before your trip about the things you are going to do to eat energy food that is really good for playing and having fun. You have to walk the talk, mom and dad!
Eating healthy on the road is challenging, it's true. You have to plan and do extra work. Get over it. When you and your children have energy and feel good, that time is so well worth it. Before you hit the road, pack your cooler! It will make it so much easier to get out there and get healthy!