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picnic for road-weary, hungry travelers. Remember to bring silverware, napkins, cups and a blanket or tablecloth. Roadside rest areas and commu-

nity parks provide free access to picnic tables, clean restrooms and a place to romp and stretch (read: burn calories). Plus, Mother Nature’s entertainment surely beats a potentially dirty, plastic, fast-food play space. When it’s time to restock sup- plies, ask for directions to the closest supermarket, food co-op, natural foods grocery store or farmers’ market. Most are located close to major highways.

Seek Out Farm-Fresh Foods and Regional, Ethnic Cuisine

To find fresh fruits and vegetables while on the road, stop at state welcome centers for free maps and guides to farm stands and farmers’ markets to enjoy the taste of healthy local seasonal flavors. Before Lebanon, New Hampshire- based dietitian KC Wright goes on the road, she goes online to check depart- ment of agriculture websites for the states she’ll visit. She searches for both farmers’ markets and farm-to-restaurant programs. Also check a destination city’s

calendar of events for regional and ethnic food festivals. The food won’t necessarily be low in calories, but will be high in the fun-factor. Simply share larger-than-life servings with travelling companions for the best of all worlds.

Reevaluate Restaurants

and Accommodations Raleigh, North Carolina Dietitian Nicole Miller chooses vacation rentals over hotels when traveling so that she has ready access to a kitchen. Being

able to prepare some of our own food saves money and slashes calories. Beware of all-you-can-eat buffets; they nearly guarantee overeating. Also be prepared to split entrées at most res- taurants or order two items from the ap- petizer menu. Inquire about local menu items and ask how food is prepared. Re- quest sauces, gravies and dressings “on the side” to control those extra calories. Having access to the Internet or a smart phone makes it even easier to lo- cate healthy eating restaurants (as does asking folks at farmers’ markets). Dawn Brighid, project manager for Sustain- able Table, notes, “Free apps like Yelp’s Menupages can be very helpful.” She recommends filtering searches with the word “healthy.”

Think Exercise and Hydration Many hotels have exercise rooms and swimming pools, but also ask for a walking map of the area to explore interesting sights on foot. State and national parks provide scenic and invigorating hiking trails. Bring a day- pack for healthful snacks and water. Note that people often mistake hunger for thirst, and it’s easy to become dehydrated when travelling. Keep a refillable water bottle to refresh and reenergize.

Here’s to fun, safe and healthy travels.

Melinda Hemmelgarn, aka the “Food Sleuth”, is a registered dietitian and award-winning writer and radio host at, in Columbia, MO. She co-created F.A.R.M.: Food, Art, Revolu- tion Media to support organic farmers ( Reach her at

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