Watchwords: lightness, digestibility, taste. If they are recommended for proper daily nutrition, such advice is even more appropriate on a car trip, which requires you to sit for a long time, thus slowing down digestion. And in some cases you also have to think about those who suffer from nausea and those who might not be feeling too well.
Without following special diets, some targeted choices will do the trick, starting by avoiding heavy foods, such as fried foods, over-seasoned sauces and over-stuffed sandwiches. An idea to lighten the summer exodus concerns the food you take along: efficient organisation saves time (no one loves queues at gas stations) and is a bonus for health.
Watch your breakfast on the day of departure: avoid croissants and coffee at the café; they can be tempting but are certainly not the ideal choice. It is better to satiate your hunger by spreading some jam or honey on a bread roll, or having some dry biscuits, or even a ham toast, with some fruit to go with either choice. So you reduce your sugar intake but have enough mineral salts and vitamins to cope with the heat.
Those suffering from nausea should not take any beverages before leaving: it is better to sip some water on board, but do not bloat the stomach with tea, coffee and cappuccinos. Snacks, chips and biscuits are all delicious, but forget them. Energy bars are a good choice but one will suffice.
What to take on the road
First, stock up on flasks and coolers – not all cars have a refrigerated compartment – with a large supply of water (still water is better as it avoids bloating), while sugary drinks are best avoided. Sugary fizzy beverages are even worse as they stimulate the desire for sweet foods and induce you to eat continuously.
"Beach pans" containing aubergines à la parmigiana or lasagna, fried foods, cakes and desserts are absolutely forbidden. On the road you should prefer seasonal salads: rice, chicken and vegetables are an ideal mix. A caprese salad with mozzarella cheese and tomatoes, or even a pasta salad, perhaps with tuna or other fish are good options. They should have a wide selection of vegetables. And then fruit supplies. This is important because water retention is an issue on long journeys during which you have hardly any exercise. Hence, you need to fill up on water, potassium and mineral salts, which you find in fruit and vegetables.
Hurray for rest stops on a road trip
Bringing food from home does not mean you should never stop anywhere. Actually, a rest stop every two hours is recommended to stretch your legs. Today, many cars advise the driver to take a break; indeed, the fatigue detector presents a cup or similar symbols on the display.
The typical solution is a service area that, in some cases, aligns a wide selection of street food and mouthwatering pizzas, which are hard to resist. You are free to give in, but from a nutritional point of view you should limit yourself to a plate of bresaola, a salad and a fruit salad.
And since you are there, fill your shopping basket with hams savoured with pepper corns, and all types of bread, when passing through the inevitable shop that leads to the exit. But save your purchases for the larder, and do not have them on the journey. The solution for those in no hurry is, instead, to leave the highway and stop at one of the many restaurants situated near the tollbooth. They often serve very good food.
Needless to say that if you cannot take a break to rest, the driver must avoid alcoholic beverages (and he or she must also limit the food intake) in order to be fully alert at the wheel. Rules apart, it is always a matter of common sense.