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The author with her children while traveling. Another tip, she says, is to travel light.

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Vermont is no stranger to welcoming tourism at every season, but when Vermonters set out to travel elsewhere, for a cross-country trip or away for a holiday weekend — what are some easy ways to stay healthy and keep our families full, fit and happy?

Having grown up in Williamsville and Townshend, I spent my 20s in New York City, struggling with my weight as an actress, (appearing once in Bennington in Picnic). It wasn’t until I obtained my certification in nutrition counseling from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition that I unraveled my connection with food and health, ultimately managing my weight for the first time in my life.

I’ve lived in Los Angeles for the past 14 years and endured the pandemic there, unable to make the transcontinental trip to Vermont. As precautions lifted, I made a plan to hit the road with my 6-year-old, 9-month-old and mother to get back home! Like all parents, I wanted to keep my family entertained & healthy.

I researched toys to entertain my daughter, made routes and booked hotels. I dreamt up snacks and recipes, bought a cooler and car games. As I rehearsed this trip again and again, I realized what I really needed were plane tickets. We flew into DC, and tacked on an eight-hour road trip, which was certainly more than enough.

When counseling clients on health and weight, my goal is to suggest small changes they can implement over time. Gradual changes are much more likely to stick. They have to fit into our lives. We can’t fit our lives into them…that’s called a fad diet, and those only work for so long until we look at a carb and gain all our weight back and then some.

Try these tips while you’re on (or off) the road.

Get enough sleep.Have you ever felt like you’re dying of hunger and grab for anything when you’re tired? We gravitate toward fake fuel sources when we lack sleep – and this has scientific roots. You see, lack of sleep wreaks havoc on our hunger hormones. Grehlin, the hormone that signals we’re hungry, increases when we don’t have enough sleep. Leptin, the hormone that signals to our bodies that it’s time to stop eating, decreases. So it’s not our minds playing tricks on us — we’re actually hungrier.

Eat defensively.When we feel as though we’re starving — we dive into the first thing we see. Everything is fair game — the bread basket, chip bowl, our kids’ snack mix or a candy bar at a convenience store. It doesn’t mean we’re bad people or that we have no willpower. It simply means we’re hungry. Eating defensively means we don’t let ourselves get too hungry. We travel with snacks to make sure that doesn’t happen – and that we aren’t faced with choosing between a Twinkie or a candy bar.

When we are prepared — and this applies to everyday life as well as road tripping life — we have healthy stuff in our purse, bags, glove compartment or pockets. Things that travel well and can steer clear of refrigeration for a few hours like hard-boiled eggs, string cheese, raw almonds or hummus and veggies are all great options.

Drink water.I know: The last thing you want to hear is “I have to pee” when you’ve just passed a sign reading “Next Rest Stop – 113 miles.” Water promotes energy and, perhaps more importantly, staves off sweet cravings. So drink up.

Get snacks at a grocery store.You’ll have more variety if you stock up on snacks at a grocery store rather than a convenience mart (unless you’re in Japan). Fruits, veggies and whole-grain crackers abound here. Fruit makes for great snacks, but try to eat twice as many veggies as fruits throughout the day to keep your blood sugar on an even keel.

Try this recipe for high-protein Energy Bites. Freeze them and they’ll travel even better:

1 cup almond butter

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¾ cup organic rolled oats

2/3 cup brown rice crisps

¼ cup maple syrup

¼ cup unsweetened coconut

½ cup raisins

3 tablespoons flax seeds

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients together.

Roll into bite-sized balls (you can use a mini ice cream scooper) and freeze.

About 70 calories each, depending on their size.

Find me on Instagram for more tricks, tips & hacks. @primaryconcernwellness

Katharine A. Jameson, a certified nutrition counselor who grew up in Williamsville and Townshend, writes about food and health for Vermont News & Media.