Turns out that a little planning for meals and beverages can help keep your focus and attention on high-alert. I ask Naturopath Dr. Jennifer Strong for the scoop on what not to eat when planning an hours-long road-trip this winter.
Justin: Driving requires one to be alert and energetic-- not tired or drowsy. If you're planning a 9-hour drive in a single day, are there certain foods to avoid eating? What about certain ingredients?
Dr. Strong: Foods to avoid would be anything that is hard to digest, or anything high in simple sugars. This includes greasy, fatty meals, which take a lot of effort to digest. These can leave you feeling in need of a nap afterwards so that your body can focus its efforts on digestion.
High-sugar foods are good for an immediate sugar rush, so they're ok for an hour road trip. These are foods such as candy, chocolate, slushies, donuts, and so on. Afterwards, you’ll have a 'sugar crash', and feel even more tired than before.
Additionally, tryptophan, which is found in most meat and dairy products, is an amino acid known to make you feel a little drowsy if consumed in large quantities. For that reason, avoid gobbling down multiple double-cheeseburgers on the go.
Justin: If some foods should be avoided in the name of driver alertness, are there certain foods or ingredients that can promote alertness and focus?
Dr. Strong: Nothing substitutes for a good night’s rest the evening before. Aim to get enough sleep-- and then the right foods on the road will help you maintain alertness. The goal on the road should be to maintain a normal blood sugar level-- therefore foods that have adequate amounts of complex carbohydrates and natural sugars are ideal.
These include nuts and dried fruit, trail-mix, granola, fresh fruit, whole grain cereals for munching, low fat string cheese, and veggie slices.