On The Road Again

By Charlyn Fargo

December 4, 2015 6 min read

For most of us, eating healthy on the road can be challenging. There's the temptation of snacking, trying foods that may or may not be healthy choices or settling for fast food.

A recent Environmental Nutrition newsletter offers some strategies for when traveling.

1. Pack some healthy choices to take with you whether you are traveling by train, plane or automobile. Use a small insulated cooler with ice for perishables. Make sure snacks and meals include good sources of fiber and protein. The fiber slows digestions, helping you stay full, and the protein is filling and can help curb overeating later.

2. Choose lean proteins such as lean jerky, string cheese, hard-boiled eggs, Greek yogurt, hummus or nuts and seeds. Research shows that high-quality protein can improve satiety, control weight and prevent chronic disease.

3. Add a fiber-rich food such as dried or fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, precooked oatmeal, whole grain crackers and popcorn.

4. When dining out, look for better sandwiches -- those with lots of vegetables, grilled chicken or turkey and hummus. Or choose a healthy salad with colorful vegetables, grilled chicken, beans, nuts or seeds and the dressing on the side.

5. Beware of descriptors like crispy, crunchy, battered, breaded or tempura.

6. Be sure and hydrate with water, tea (mint tea can help an upset stomach; chamomile tea soothes anxiety).

7. Make your own homemade trail mix with dried fruit, nuts, seeds and high fiber cereal.

Q and A

Q: Can lifestyle make much difference in cancer risk? Doesn't cancer really come down mostly to heredity and luck?

A: A healthy lifestyle can't prevent all cancer, but it makes a big difference. Healthy eating habits combined with regular physical activity and a healthy weight can prevent about 1 in 3 of the most common U.S. cancers. By adding avoidance of tobacco and sun damage, today's research says we could cut the number of cancers occurring in the United States every year nearly in half.

Only about 5 to 10 percent of all cancers are thought to be caused by an inherited "cancer gene." If you have a close relative (mother, father, sister or brother) who has had cancer, or if you carry a cancer gene, it's important to get periodic screenings on a schedule recommended by your healthcare provider. Even with a strong family history of a particular cancer, eating habits and lifestyle choices can influence whether cancer actually develops. Some people may inherit genes that make them especially sensitive to the effects of lifestyle choices. As for luck, it's true that whenever cells divide and reproduce, there's potential for mutations (damaged DNA) that can possibly lead to cancer. However, the body has mechanisms to repair DNA and cause abnormal cells to self-destruct. Nutrients and phytochemicals (natural compounds in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and other plant foods) provide important support for those processes. Moreover, genes can be activated and deactivated (like switching on or off their ability to send signals), and the way we live influences that. By limiting unhealthy foods and avoiding tobacco smoke, excess alcohol, too much sun or exposure to high levels of certain chemicals, you help reduce chances of damage to genes. Through healthy food and drink choices, combined with physical activity and a healthy weight, you provide protective influences both at the stage of initial cell damage that starts the cancer process, and throughout stages that follow, reducing potential of any damaged cells to multiply and ever develop into a clinical cancer.

Information courtesy of the American Institute for Cancer Research.

Recipe

This recipe for grilled lemon chicken with feta rice, from Cooking Light magazine is high in protein, low in fat and quick to make. Best of all, it fits into a healthy Mediterranean diet.

GRILLED LEMON CHICKEN WITH FETA RICE

4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided

1 tablespoon olive oil, divided

2 teaspoons minced garlic

Cooking spray

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

2 (8 1/2 ounce) pouches precooked brown rice

3 ounces crumbled feta cheese

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

Combine chicken, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon oil and garlic in a zip-top bag; turn to coat. Let stand 5 minutes. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Remove chicken from marinade and discard marinade Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper; grill 6 minutes on each side. While chicken cooks, heat rice according to package directions. Combine remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice and remaining 2 teaspoons oil in a bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add rice, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, feta and basil; toss. Serve rice with chicken. Serves 4. (Servings size: 1 chicken breast half and 1 cup rice).

Per serving: 450 calories, 44 g protein, 36 g carbohydrate, 15 g fat, 128 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 688 mg sodium.

Charlyn Fargo’s weekly column, "Nutrition News," can be found at Creators.com.

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