Dashboard dining for long car journeys

Cara Cunningham, MINDI, Community Dietitian

The August bank holiday is a time when many of us will be on the road to go for long awaited summer holidays. If you are going abroad or having a staycation in Ireland with a bit of planning the journey need not be a dining disaster!

It’s all about preparation! As the saying goes ‘a good start is half the battle’, so on the morning of your journey always have a good breakfast. One of the best starts is a big bowl of porridge, due to its low GI levels this means that the energy is slowly released so it basically keeps you going for the whole morning. Feeling full will mean you can resist the temptation to snack on junk food.

Pack-a-snack! Plan ahead and pack some fruit as snacks. If the weather is particularly hot, it might be better to use an insulated container, with plenty of ice packs. Just watch if you are heading abroad – some places won’t take too kindly to fresh fruit being taken into countries – so eat them at the airport before you fly or on the aeroplane!

Take time for a break! It is good to break a journey up, even if it is just to have a stretch and shake the kids out! But instead of going for the usual fast food, fast pit stop where all is eaten on your knees why not try to see if there are any play parks or beaches or lake stops on your way. Often these areas are just a short distance from the main roads and can mean 15 minutes of activity for the children and a bit of fresh air for you. Everyone will feel refreshed and ready for the next part of your journey. Check out any playgrounds en route at www.playinireland.ie/playgrounds htm

Pack a picnic! What better way to eat than having a picnic, it has the added advantage that you know what your family likes so you can’t go wrong. To make it healthy choose a higher fibre bread for sandwiches, fill up sandwiches with salad vegetables, a good option is to chop up a load of fruit; as a fruit salad with some added yoghurt this makes for a refreshing dessert.

Keep hydrated! Being stuck in a car, or on any long journey, you can forget to drink; often we stop the kids drinking too much to prevent endless ‘pit’ stops. But really well hydrated passengers will have fewer headaches, be less irritable and it may prevent nausea and car sickness. It might be good to spread drink across the journey rather than having a lot at once (which will definitely require a toilet stop! ), so get a sealed bottle for everyone in the audience! But don’t forget water is the best option as drinks containing caffeine might actually speed up the need for those ‘pit stops’.

By planning well you can have a more enjoyable and healthier journey – safe travelling. For more information or for more information on diet and nutrition, please contact: The Community Nutrition and Dietetic Service, HSE Dublin-Mid Leinster Tel: (044 ) 9395518 or email [email protected].

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