Venues such as McDonald’s, Subway, Starbucks, Taco Bell, Rest Stop Vending Machines and Gas Station Food Marts are not typically places I will stop to refuel my body’s gas tank. However, on occasion while driving through the center of California or traveling on a big road trip, I find myself stopping in these places simply out of necessity. I am faced with having to make quick decisions that could ultimately affect the way I feel for the rest of the day. I always try to purchase and ingest the lesser of the evils that are lurking in these common eating establishments.
The Golden Arches
Fast food establishments are notorious for piling on the macronutrients, or the fat, carbs and protein. But you can always find something that is less destructive. Go for the green whenever you can. For instance, McDonald’s has a premium Southwest Salad with Grilled Chicken. Without dressing, this salad contains 290 calories, 27 Grams of Protein and 8 Grams of fat. This line-up is much better option than a burger, soda and fries.
Yo Quiero Taco Bell
Taco Bell is an old favorite for people who like to think “Outside of the Bun”. If the idea of eating any fiber at all appeals to you, go for the greens here as well. Taco Bell offers three salad choices: Fiesta Taco Salad, Fiesta Taco Salad-Beef, and Fiesta Taco Salad-Steak. Just for the record, real hombres eat salad. All three salads look similar when it comes to the nutritional punch with Calories ranging in the 700′s, 26-34 Grams of Protein, and 35-42 Grams of Fat. The macronutrients in these options are far too high, but we are talking about the lesser of evils at “Yo Quiero Taco Bell”.
The “Skinny” on Subway
While cruising through Subway, another fine fast food establishment that has more of a “healthy” appeal since launching its controversial weight-loss campaign years ago, go for the veggie options. Greens may not be as exciting to your taste buds as processed farm animals, but your internal physiology will be much happier two hours after eating the veggies. For example, the 6″ Veggie Delight boasts only 230 Calories, 8 Grams of Protein and 2.5 Grams of Fat. Subway has a Veggie Delight Salad with only 50 Calories, 3 Grams of Protein and 1 Gram of Fat. Use dressing sparingly, which can easily add a 10 Gram punch of Fat to your good intentions.
Addicted to Starbucks
Starbucks is another fast caf or decaf establishment that can put your brain in a bad mood an hour after eating one of their yummy but very high carb and high fat bakery items. The baked goods enter your body as sugar and crash your blood sugar level within a short period of time, leaving you feeling fatigued and even a little bit grumpy. I like the option of the Chicken & Hummus (chick pea) Bistro Box. This selection is not what one might be thinking about when walking into a Starbucks looking for a compliment to their Upside Down Soy Carmel Macchiato Latte, but it only has 480 Calories, a whopping 6 Grams of fiber, and only 8 Grams of Fat.
Rest Stop Disaster Zones
Rest stops are for excreting what is necessary out of you, your children and your pets and for getting a drink of water. They are NOT for eating. Move away from the rest stop vending machine and nobody will get hurt!
Gas Station Food Marts
Finally, when naming all of the snack and meal establishments that one might come across on a road trip, survey said “Gas Station Food Marts” are tied with fast food venues as quick food choices one might see along their road trip. This road trip convenience stop may not win YOUR Family Feud, but they are most definitely high on the list of possible stops along the way. Here is a word of advice for the weary and the leery traveler. Start pumping your gas, run into the food mart and use the restroom, grab an apple or a banana out of the fruit basket that you might see at the checkout counter (if you don’t see the fruit basket, a bag of trail mix will suffice), grab a bottle of cold Dasani, and run back outside to your car. After putting the gas pump back in its holder, peel out of that parking lot as fast as you can and never look back.
Eating while road tripping doesn’t always have to leave you feeling like a physical disaster. There are always healthier options to choose from when your wandering eyes are scanning the menu at your favorite fast food joint. Choose wisely, because what you eat today will affect how you feel tomorrow. Go green whenever you can, and stay away from Rest Stop Vending Machines and Gas Station Food Marts. These places are no place for hungry humans.
Quote for the day: “A wise traveler never despises his own country”. Carlo Coldoni