When you’re on the road for a long time, healthy eating is one of the first things to falter. It’s so easy to find 15 greasy burger joints and so hard to find a single piece of fresh fruit. But anyone who’s driven for a long time can look down at their belt line and tell you that eating right matters. Because its so hard to be physically active as a driver, the most influential part of healthiness by far is what you eat. Here’s a list of little changes you can make that will make a difference in the long run.

1. Instead of stopping at every Greasy Spoon Diner, pack meals before the trip. You can re-heat these at truck stop microwaves and control your diet instead of having to choose off a menu. This will save you money (groceries are SO much cheaper than eating out) and let you pick healthier options that might be harder to find on the road.

2. But what to pack? Lean on fruits and veggies (they have good sugar) instead of breads and sweets that are bad and drag your energy down. Try eating natural instead of processed food. You can also apply this to snacking. Eating fruit and veggies will keep you going between meals with little bursts of sugar. If you need something more, try protein bars with low sugar. No, they don’t taste as good as the sugary ones. If you want something sweet, eat an apple.

3. Get your caffeine from basic black coffee. Regular coffee will have less added calories than energy drinks or “coffee beverages.” If your taste buds hate the idea of gas station coffee without anything to cut the sour grossness, you can pack your own cold-brew coffee (which is higher in caffeine and less bitter than regular coffee, anyway) and sip it as you go.

4. On the other side, drink lots of water to stay hydrated. Sometimes when you feel cravings, that’s just dehydration. You need water, not food. Experts have changed their minds a dozen times about how much water you should drink in a day. Usually, though, it is more than you think you should. Make drinking water a habit.

5. Stretch and walk whenever possible. Time is short when you’re driving, and the last thing you’ll want to do after a long stretch staring down the road is go for a brisk walk. But even 15 minutes of walking in circles around the parking lot will make a difference. Check Instagram, watch a Youtube video, call home. You can make 15 minutes of walking not be boring.

6. Finally, you’ve got to choose this. It’s more work and planning than just taking what’s available when you’re hungry and choosing whatever tastes good. The rewards are long-term. You’ll feel better on the road and afterward. But you’ve got to set a habit and stick to it. Here is a link to some specific snack ideas!

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