What Not to Eat on a Road Trip

In addition to road trip snacks and the best fast food, it's important to know what not to eat on a road trip. Driving is a highly physical activity. If you're going to reach your destination safely and in a timely fashion, your mind and body need to be working at their best. So, what you put in your body during your road trip is of the utmost importance - and what you don't put in your body is just as important.

There's no single food or category of food that's absolutely wrong to consume on a road trip. But we do have several general guidelines on what not to eat on a road trip:

  1. Foods you've never eaten before. When you're out on the open road exploring new parts of the country, it's tempting to try some of the unique local specialties. Trouble is, if you've never eaten a particular food before, you don't know exactly how it will affect your digestive tract and your brain over the next few hours. If you really want to be adventurous in what you eat, do so after you've stopped for the night. At least you'll have the night to recover if something doesn't agree with you.
  2. "Iffy" foods. Got a sandwich on the passenger seat that's been there just a little too long, and you're not sure if the mayo is turning? A hard-boiled egg that smells slightly “off”? A carton of milk that's a bit warm? Don't risk it. You may be setting yourself up for a highly unpleasant (and time-consuming) bathroom stop. Better to waste a few dollars' worth of food than to make yourself sick.
  3. Too much of anything. Road trips are (ideally) vacations, and vacations are a time for enjoying big, delicious meals. But again, driving is a physical activity, and you won't be at your best physically if you bog yourself down with gigantic meals. Eat relatively light, relatively nutritious meals during the driving hours of your day. You'll avoid that groggy, nappy feeling that can put you and your passengers at risk.
  4. Anything super-salty. Being thirsty on the road can be a huge distraction. The more you have to reach down to your cup holder, the less attention you'll be paying to the road. Plus, who wants to keep paying $2 for bottled water at mini-marts?
  5. Anything super-spicy. This is similar to the concern about salt, but with a bonus: spicy food can do a number on your digestive system, too.
  6. Loads of sugar. Go ahead, have dessert. Just don't have three desserts at once. Every sugar high will be followed by a sugar low, leaving you in no mood to concentrate on your driving or negotiate a traffic jam.

To summarize, perhaps it's not a matter of remembering what not to eat on a road trip. Maybe the point is just to use common sense and exercise moderation.


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What Not to Eat on a Road Trip