Published on February 08, 2016

Election alert – Vote for healthy food choices!Election alert – Vote for healthy food choices!

Last summer, Hillary Clinton was presented with a pork-chop-on-a-stick during a visit to the Iowa State Fair.

A few weeks ago, Donald Trump stopped at a New Hampshire diner and ordered a cheeseburger with fries and a ball of deep-fried macaroni and cheese.

The rest of us might not have to try to win votes with our food choices, but eating well away from home still can be difficult.

“It’s definitely a challenge when you’re traveling and trying to stay on track with a healthy diet,” said Tracy Warren, RDN, a clinical dietitian in Cape Cod Hospital’s Nutrition Therapy department.

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean gained 35 pounds during his eight-month campaign for president in 2004. On the other hand, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush sticks to the Paleo diet and says cutting carbs and dairy helped him lose 40 pounds.

According to a former campaign aide, Hillary Clinton favors a little heat in her snacks.

“During 2008, there was not a day or a minute that went by that we didn’t have a full plate of raw jalapenos,” said Jamie Smith. “She ate them like potato chips.”

For the rest of us, Warren says a little advance planning can help us eat healthy when we’re away from home.

If work keeps you in your car for much of the day, pack your own meals and snacks. Warren recommends protein bars, nuts, firm fruits (like apples) and pretzels. She said you can easily make your own trail mix. CheatSheet.com offers five great recipes, including the Crunch-Crunch-Crunch Mix. Craisins, nuts and Chex cereal are a good basis for a trail mix, said Warren, but if you want to throw in some M&Ms, do so in moderation.

One advantage to spending time in your car is that you can pack healthy foods in a cooler.

“If you’re driving, sandwiches, fruits and yogurt are easy to handle and easy to eat,” said Warren.“Freeze some water bottles and put them in the cooler. They can help keep food cold for a long trip, and when they thaw you can have a nice cool drink.”

If you’re traveling by plane, your options are a little different.

“Keep in mind that if you’d like to pack your own meal, solid foods are allowed but liquids and gels, like pudding, yogurt and cottage cheese, are limited to 3 ounces,” Warren said. “If you don’t have time to organize a meal ahead, buy at the airport rather than on the plane. Food on the plane is usually more expensive and you have fewer healthy options.

“Travel can make you dehydrated, so bring a water bottle and fill it at the airport.”

Your smart phone is a great resource while traveling, Warren said.

Fooducate is an app I think is kind of neat,” she said. “You can scan a food’s bar code and it shows a grade from A to D. It won the Surgeon General’s Healthy App award.”

Another online resource Warren recommends is HealthyDiningFinder.com. Enter the name of a restaurant and the site tells you the healthier options on the menu. The list of restaurants is small but growing and includes some popular chains, including the Olive Garden and Friendly’s. The site is run by a registered dietitian.

Many hotels offer a free breakfast and Warren said this can be a great way to get your day off to a healthy start. “Fresh fruit, whole-grain cereal, yogurt and scrambled eggs are your best options,” she said. “Stay away from sausages, which are fat-saturated, and the non-whole grain cereals.”