Written by Jackie Stevenson, BS, DTR
There are usually only two circumstances when eating at a fast food chain is unavoidable: when you’re running really late and you have no food at home, or when traveling. Planning meals and snacks for the road make it possible to travel without stopping at the closest drive thru, but life happens, and sometimes you’re just not prepared. So what does a good caveman order?
- There are better restaurant than others. Places like McDonalds and Burger King are burger joints at their core, leaving little room for healthy options, although they try. Even their salads are loaded with fried chicken, and a plethora of toppings that make a seemingly healthy meal just the opposite. If the option is there, pick a chain like Panera or Subway, which have better, healthier ingredients like real chicken and fresh salads.
- Stopping at Panera instead of McDonald’s seems like a logical choice, but that good deed ends when you order their mac and cheese bowl. Choosing the right menu option is also very important. Salads, like their chicken cobb salad with avocado would be a better choice. If you’re craving a non-paleo dish, try and modify it a bit. For example, skipping the added croutons and cheese on your salad.
- You pull off in a one stoplight town who’s only attraction is the local golden arches. There is no grocery store, no local diners, no car snacks left. Bummer. The only option is to do the best you can and file this meal in the 15% category. The best choice would be salad with grilled chicken. Their Premium Bacon Ranch salad isn’t too bad, provided you skip the cheese and don’t use the dressing. Probably scoop about half of the bacon out too. If you’re in for a burger, order it without cheese, take it off the bun, and eat it with a side salad. I promise, this meal won’t make your top 10, but it will have to do.
How to avoid this pickle
If you run behind schedule often, a simple solution to the drive thru problem is to have ready made snacks in the car. Keep an emergency supply of snacks like fruit, nuts or Lara bars in your bag or even in the car to eat in a pinch. You may not get the full meal you need, but a snack can boost your blood sugar enough to make it where you are going. Take it a step further by packing your meals and snacks for the entire day, eliminating the need for an emergency pit stop. We have said this a hundred times, prepping some meal options at the beginning of the week gives you grab and go options at home, rather than a fast food joint.
If you are on a cross-country adventure, you will probably run out of your car snacks quickly. I suggest investing in a cooler to store items like lunchmeat, hard boiled eggs and other perishables. Just remember to keep the food in sealed containers and remove melted ice water often, otherwise your food will get soggy. These meals are likely to get you through the day, decreasing the need to stop several times for meals. Since you won’t be famished as you pull off the highway, you will be able to make a good restaurant choice, sit down, and have a nice, paleo-friendly meal. Don’t forget to stock up at the local grocery store before getting back on the road.
Sticking to a Paleo lifestyle requires a little bit of creativity in general, and traveling really is no different. Planning ahead is your best ally. One final note: Cavemen did not sit in cars all day long. Get out and stretch your legs.