Road Trip Munchies: What to Pick and Pass on


Of course, it’s always ideal to pack your own healthy bites when you’re on the road. My faves are crunchy veggies like baby carrots; fresh fruit including bananas, apples and plums; nuts and seeds; string cheese; hard-boiled eggs; light popcorn; and my own Nourish Snacks (shameless plug!). But when you do find yourself in a situation where rest stop fare is your only choice and the strong smell of burgers and fries are calling your name, you can still put together a relatively healthy meal if you know what to pick and what to pass on.

Whether you stop at a coffee shop, burger joint or somewhere else, here are a few menu items to consider. Enjoy your meal…and your trip!



Pass: Grande Mocha Frappuccino with whole milk + whipped cream = 410 calories
Pick: Grande Mocha Light Frappuccino = 140 calories

Frappuccinos are loaded with sugar and are total calorie bombs. A full-fat frap with whipped cream is basically a milkshake. The best option at Starbucks is black coffee with a splash of milk or a tall skim latte or cappuccino. But if you’re craving something super sweet and just can’t give up your frapps, order a tall light Frappuccino without the whipped cream to save yourself over 300 calories.



Pass: Big Mac + McFlurry M&Ms = 1,190 calories
Pick: Quarter pounder (no cheese) + vanilla ice cream cone = 630 calories

The lesson here is keep it simple. A Big Mac has two beef patties, smothered in a creamy “special sauce.” Anytime you hear “special sauce” that’s usually a tip off that it’s not a low-calorie item. Then add an M&M McFlurry for dessert, which is M&M’s blended with soft serve, and your entire meal just clocked in at well over 1,000 calories.

If you’re going to indulge, choose the quarter pounder without cheese, and enjoy a small vanilla ice cream cone. Simple but delicious, and you’ll feel a lot lighter for the rest of your car ride.


Burger King

Pass: Double Whopper Sandwich with cheese + large fries = 1,360 calories
Pick: Double Hamburger (pile on veggies) + small fries = 630 calories

A double whopper with cheese is two quarter-pounder patties (8 ounces total) on a sesame bun plus mayo and fatty cheese, which weighs in with about 930 calories. Combine that with a large order of fries for 430 calories and you have yourself a 1,360-calorie nightmare. If you’re really craving a burger, instead treat yourself to a double hamburger with no cheese, and ask to pile on extra tomato, lettuce and onions. Then, opt for the small fries (if you must). You’ll save yourself more than 700 calories.


Pass: Homestyle Chicken Sandwich + large fries = 1,050 calories
Pick: Grilled Chicken Sandwich + Strawberry Mango Salad, half-sized = 630 calories

Chicken may sound like a healthier option, but not when it’s deep-fried and smothered in mayo. Add on a large fries, you’ve got yourself a deep-fried frenzy of a meal. Instead, opt for a Grilled Chicken sandwich plus a delicious voluminous (half-sized) salad filled with lots of yummy and good-for-you toppings. You still get a whole lot of food, but you’re saving more than 400 calories and gaining loads of nutrition with this one swap.


Taco Bell

Pass: Smothered Shredded Chicken Burrito = 670 calories
[shredded chicken, beans, seasoned rice, red sauce, reduced fat sour cream, 3-cheese blend, chipotle sauce]
Pick: 2 Chicken Soft Tacos = 340 calories 

Mexican food is often loaded with dollops of guacamole, sour cream, cheese, fatty sauces, and ginormous burritos…enough to serve 2 people. Want a better option? Order the chicken soft tacos made of shredded chicken, cheese, and lettuce. You can actually order TWO, and you’ll still slash the calories in half.


Pass: 12-inch Italian hero = 1,100 calories
Pick: 6-inch turkey breast on whole grain sub + Veggie Delight Salad with Subway Vinaigrette = 410 calories

This is all about swapping fatty, marbled, processed red meats (AKA salami, pepperoni and often ham) for leaner sliced poultry. For bonus points, trade in your white bread for whole grain and downsize your sub while bumping up the volume with the a satisfying salad. This entire meal clocks in at a little more than 400 calories—what’s better than that?!


Wondering what to eat at ball games, barbecues and amusement parks? Check out this guide.