Eating Healthy on the Road


We had a wonderful weekend camping in the Wisconsin Dells.  Our days were filled with lots of sunshine, plenty of activity, and a ton of junk food – something we don’t normally do.  Between the cookies, campfire s’mores, chips, and other “junk” snacks, we ate terribly over the course of three days.  And by Sunday we noticed a big change in our toddler:  our usually sweet boy was angry.  He’d talk back to us, yelling, alternately ignoring us and screaming.  This wasn’t at all like our toddler.

In hindsight, it is totally obvious that our diet was the problem.  The key appears to lie in blood sugar levels.  Highly sugared foods, like the cookies and s’mores that we feasted on this weekend, provide a burst of energy with a crash later.  The crash manifests itself in the form of irritability, crankiness, and all out anger.  The angry toddler is more easily pacified with a happy snack like another cookie, and the cycle repeats itself, again and again.  Vacations are already rough on toddlers:  at that age, kids thrive on familiarity and routine.  Vacations mean a new place to sleep, new sights to see, and new experiences, all of which can be exhausting.  Toss in a change in diet, and you have the potential for a lot of toddler upset.  And that isn’t the way anyone wants to spend their vacation.
The challenge is that when on vacation, it is easy to turn to junk food.  Restaurants are everywhere, and the convenience of packaged cookies and snacks can’t be beaten, especially when camping or road tripping.  While we saw our weekend junkfoodfest as a fun “treat,” a little jaunt away from our usual healthy eating principles, it just wasn’t worth the changes in our son.  We learned a really important lesson this weekend:  planning ahead is the key to healthy eating while on vacation.

 In the future, we’ll have to do a better job of planning out healthy snacks when we vacation.  While camping takes a lot more prep-work than a hotel vacation, it is easier in some ways because you necessarily have the tools with you – a cooler, cooking implements, and so forth – to eat without relying on restaurant or junk snack food.

For next time, I have some healthy, toddler-approved camp and road trip snacks planned out:

  • Dippable fruits and veggies with peanut butter.  Cut up carrots, celery or even apples for an easy grab-and-go snack.  Peanut butter is the perfect “dip” because it requires no refrigeration.
  • Craisins, raisins, trail mix, granola.  Favorites among backpackers because of their portability and their ease of storage, these toddler treats require no refrigeration and can readily satisfy a snack craving.
  • CLIF Bars – It is no secret that I’m a huge fan of CLIF bars, and their organic CLIF Kid bars are a tasty and satisfying snack for little ones.   With flavors like honey graham, chocolate chip and peanut butter, they taste like treats but contain no artificial flavors or colors, no high fructose corn syrup, no preservatives, and they are packed with protein whole grains.
  • String cheese.  Fun to eat, easy and portable, string cheese is a great to-go food.
  • Cheerios.  A favorite toddler standby.  You can’t go wrong with a little baggie of Cheerios.

Readers – what are your favorite toddler-friendly snacks?  What do you eat when you road trip?

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Filed under Healthy Eating

2 Responses to Eating Healthy on the Road

  1. Here's to a Boring Year

    My Monkey LOVES Cheerios and cheese sticks. Another hit is cheese flavoured crackers.

    I always have a little container with crackers and Cheerios in my handbag, because I never know when he will be hungry!
    Here’s to a Boring Year recently posted..Babies are like quantum particles

  2. Pingback: Natural Parents Network: The Best of 2012 Blitz | Living Peacefully with Children

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