Summer road trips: Making the most of fast food

This is a continuation of our best tips for eating well on the road. Read the first article here.

As much as I’d love to have only freshly prepared meals on road trips, being on the road (and on a budget) can at times make fast food inevitable. Use these tips to make the most of a potentially unhealthy situation.sub sandwich

Make it a true “happy” meal

Wherever you end up, always remember the formula for the My Heart-Healthy Plate: one quarter of your plate should be lean protein (chicken, turkey, fish, beans, tofu – avoid anything crispy, crunchy, or breaded); one quarter should be starch, preferably from whole grains (e.g., whole-wheat bread, corn tortilla, brown rice – avoid fried potatoes and white bread), and half should be fruits and vegetables. Create your own happy meal using this model!

  • From the sub shop: a 6-inch turkey sandwich on whole wheat (no cheese, no mayo) with extra veggies and a piece of fruit on the side
  • From the burger joint: an open-face grilled chicken sandwich or veggie burger with a side salad (only use half the packet of dressing provided)
  • From the Mexican restaurant: a chicken, black bean, and vegetable bowl (hold the sour cream, cheese, fried shell, and chips; ask for a half-portion of brown rice so you get more of the beans and veggies)
  • From the pizzeria: one slice of thin-crust veggie pizza (with extra vegetables, light cheese, and whole-wheat crust, if available) with a salad (avoid the bread sticks, extra cheese, and high-fat meats).

Stay hydrated

Water, water, water! Avoid sugar-filled sodas, milkshakes, energy drinks, sports drinks, and coffee drinks, which will just fuel more sugar cravings and make you feel sluggish.

Put on some good road-trip music, eat well, and have fun out there!



Tracy Severson, RD, LD, is the dietitian for the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the Knight Cardiovascular Institute. She specializes in nutrition counseling for cardiovascular health and weight management.


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