Summertime is often travel time. Travel time is often fun, but still stressful. Stress is having four kids in a hot car asking, "When do we eat? I'm hungry!!!" Finding a good restaurant can be a challenge for the nutritionally aware traveler for summer or any other season.
How does the road-weary traveler find restaurants serving good, wholesome foods. One of the best options is to camp and cook your own foods, including raw fruits and vegetables. Every now and then, however, we need to feel pampered yet come away feeling good about the meal we've eaten. In our fast food culture this is not always easy. Many of us are ordering foods that we know are not nutritious, but they taste good and are filling. Besides, when we're on vacation we don't want to worry about nutritional requirements.
Insuring that your family will not have to endure the insults and added stress from junk food diet is not difficult if you know some of the tricks of seasoned healthy travelers. First of all, plan frequent stops for exercise and healthy snacks if you're traveling by car. Good snacks include nuts of all types, dried and fresh fruits, carrot and celery sticks, nutritious cookies and crackers and health food candy bars. We never go anywhere without something to snack on. Many a nerve has ben saved from frazzling by a timely handful of nuts!
As you drive along, you may be tempted to stop where the truckers do. Remember the old cliche about their knowing the best places? Well, that may have been true when truckers were not traveling the inter-state highways. Now they are captives of the highway fast food stops. According to Michael Stern and his wife, Jane, who wrote the book "Roadfood", the pickup truck may now signal good places to eat. He says that in the South and Southwest a pickup truck in the parking lot can mean a place that serves a good down home breakfast with homemade biscuits and rolls.
Stern also recommends walking up to a postal worker or policeman and asking where they eat out. He suggests you remember where you are and not order flounder in Iowa or chili in Maine. The Sterns found that in the South travelers can get vegetable plates with good fresh greens. A traditional soup called "Potlikker" is one in which greens are cooked for a long time with different meats. (Editor's note: Vegetarians can order without the meat). The broth that results is a most invigorating concoction and leaves you feeling like Popeye, says Stern.
To feel like Popeye you may want to eat where he eats! Some of the best food in many towns is also the cheapest. The most expensive places often ship in food from far away places, pop it in the microwave* cover it with a sauce and call it Cordon Bleu! Remember that anything with a sauce is suspect, especially if you have allergies, want to avoid preservatives and fats, or would like to know what's in your food.
Some of the most nutritious meals are lightly cooked and without sauces. By ordering broiled or better yet, poached fish, a steamed vegetable and a salad, you are on pretty safe ground. Even the local pizza parlor and burger place usually has a big salad bar, and pizza is considered by some nutritionists as a non-junk food. You can order your pizza topped with fresh tomato, green pepper, fresh mushrooms and onions for added nutrition. Raw foods help avoid diarrhea and constipation from travel. If "disaster" does strike, there are natural laxatives and herbal remedies to take. Be sure and carry these on your trips.
If you're flying, be prepared with some snacks of your own just in case the airline serves nothing but oily nuts with artificial flavors, preservatives and added salt and sugar. When you make reservations, ask for a vegetarian meal and call to confirm this a few days before your flight and again at the check-in. We have done this and found that the meal was quite tasty and not over-cooked. On a plane, remember that high altitudes dehydrate, so you'll want to drink lots of fluids. Bring your own pure water if possible (Editor's Note: some of the juices are sugarless) and refrain from alcohol which has been reported to act as a diuretic.
When you arrive at your destination, you can take advantage of friends' or relatives' recommendations. To gain "instant friends," look in the Yellow Pages of a phone book under "C" for clubs. If you are in the Elks Club, call and ask for a recommendation of local restaurants that serve good basic foods. Specify the idea of basic and home-style cooking or you may end up with someone else's idea of "good" food which may end up being expensive food!
One of my first choices for an organization to call to learn about natural foods restaurants would be La Leche League International. Look in the white pages for this listing. These are mothers who meet to learn about breastfeeding and nutrition. You'll reach a League leader who knows nutrition and who'll be happy to recommend good places to eat. Also, look under the listing "Health Food Stores" and call and ask to talk with their manager to get additional ideas for good eating, or call the church or synagogue you favor. And of course, look under the natural foods restaurant listing. For even more leads, get Block and Morrison's "Real Food Places".
We often opt for Japanese food while traveling. Make sure they omit MSG and order the stir-fry or lightly cooked vegetable or seafood dishes. Some Japanese restaurants even have plastic mock-up dishes in the front window so you can see what you'll be getting. In any restaurant, if you sit down and find the menu atrocious or the place dirty, or otherwise objectionable, by all means leave. It's your body! (I'm attracted to restaurants with lush green, cared-for plants). We've found that ethnic restaurants in the center of the city are basically nutritious since ethnic foods include a variety of fresh vegetables, fruits and grains - often fresher than American fare.
We don't want our vacations to be spoiled by indigestion from greasy or improperly prepared foods even though papaya or charcoal tablets can aid digestion. To insure a healthy and happy vacation, take a few moments to plan for natural eating on the road.
NOTE: This article is an excerpt of Nanci's "Quick & Easy Ways to Natural Health," a compilation of many varied and interesting health topics.
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