Eating on the Road

Casper, Wyoming.  Image source.

Casper, Wyoming. Image source.

Healthy eating on a car trip can be difficult. I thought it might be useful to share how I dealt with that on our recent car trip to a Cozzens family reunion in Northwest Wyoming (my wife Gail's side of the family).

One of the important considerations in how I approach eating on the road is my belief that loosening the constraints on special occasions is important to sustainability of an eating program. But the main way in which I loosened constraints was in having a much more spread-out eating window than I normally would. (See "Stop Counting Calories; It's the Clock that Counts.") I was just as careful as usual about what I ate. (Gail's choices were similar to mine except that she skipped breakfast in the hotel, didn't go for the pistachios, and doesn't like green bananas.) 

Day 1: Monday, July 2

I didn't eat any breakfast before getting on the road. Having fasting as a regular part of our routine made it easier to get out the door. We wanted to see Fort Collins and had lunch at a Mexican restaurant there. We shared our dishes:

  • tortilla soup (skipping the tortillas)
  • carne asada (steak)
  • fajita salad (skipping the crisp tortilla bowl)

I tried to hold off eating until lunch time, but then as we continued our journey I did eat some of the things we's packed: 

  • tea (Yogi and Tazo have some great herbal tea flavors)
  • a mix of baked cashews and almonds 
  • macadamia nuts
  • pistachios nuts
  • manchego cheese

Other than the tea, I tried to be conscious of portion sizes on these. Portion sizes are not a big issue when eating low on the insulin index at home within a very short eating window, but it is easy to eat a lot out of boredom on the road, and the eating window wasn't as short. 

We stopped in Casper for the evening. At an Asian fusion restaurant I had coconut curry over chicken and many vegetables. At the Hampton Inn, I had some decaf and half & half. 

Day 2: Tuesday, July 3

Hampton Inn has a free breakfast. I had:

  • scrambled eggs with ham and cheese
  • decaf with half & half
  • oatmeal with half & half
  • cream cheese (with no bagel on my cream cheese)

We had a late lunch at the Irma Hotel in Cody. We shared our dishes:

  • burger with fixings, no bun
  • salad bar
  • vegetable beef stew (small cup—skipped the potatoes)
  • taco salad (skipping the shell)

We stayed at the Ralston Clubhouse & Inn owned by my sister-in-law and brother-in-law Deirdre and Dirk Cozzens. They have done a great job with it:

Knowing we would have a refrigerator and freezer, we stocked up at the Albertson's in Cody:

  • 3 nectarines
  • half gallon half & half
  • 2 green bananas 
  • 2 containers of mint chip Halo Top
  • 2 bags full-fat cheese curd ("squeaky cheese") for our contribution to the reunion pot-luck

The actual eating of those things was spread out over two days: July 3 and July 4. Based on glycemic index data, I think of green bananas as having less of an insulin kick that would lead to overeating than ripe bananas would. (See "Using the Glycemic Index as a Supplement to the Insulin Index.") In addition, at the Ralston Clubhouse I ate nuts and three squares of 88% chocolate. (See "Our Delusions about 'Healthy' Snacks—Nuts to That!" and "Intense Dark Chocolate: A Review.")

Our relatives are supportive of our eating program. At dinner that evening with relatives, I had:

  • salad with olive oil (the mayo had too much sugar)
  • roast beef (au jus without the bread)
  • fresh bing cherries

Day 3: July 4

I skipped breakfast and had two nectarines cut up in half & half at lunch. At the reunion that evening in Burlington, Wyoming, I had:

  • sloppy joe meat
  • elk meat
  • salad
  • refried beans

I went back for many servings. That evening we ended the day of celebration by sharing a container of Halo Top ice-cream.

Day 4: July 5

On our trip back home to Superior, Colorado, we did it all in one day—about an 8.5-hour drive. Other than water, I only had tea on the trip. When we were back home, I had cherries and half & half.  


I found what I ate on this trip quite satisfying. I can't recommend the particular restaurants we ate at, but the food there was OK and infused our diet with some variety. All of the other things I ate were quite tasty.

I hope this account is helpful in illustrating how to eat reasonably well even in circumstances that are more difficult than when eating at home. 


Don't miss these other posts on diet and health and on fighting obesity:

Also see the last section of "Five Books That Have Changed My Life" and the podcast "Miles Kimball Explains to Tracy Alloway and Joe Weisenthal Why Losing Weight Is Like Defeating Inflation." If you want to know how I got interested in diet and health and fighting obesity and a little more about my own experience with weight gain and weight loss, see my post "A Barycentric Autobiography."