Healthy eating as important as safe driving on holiday trips

Brian Joss – The coming holidays are synonymous with chocolate overload and plenty of good food. If you are setting off on a holiday these coming weeks, however, continuing a lifestyle like this is not the safest option. Part of having a safe trip involves making healthy food choices.

The managing director of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, explains the danger of making the wrong food choices. “Unhealthy foods cause fatigue, lower concentration levels and affect your ability to avoid and respond to emergency situations. When packing the food for your trip, choose food that aids concentration and energy levels.”

Foods that increase concentration include food like blueberries, avocado, certain vegetables, nuts, dark chocolate, fish, flax seeds and water. For better energy levels you can choose between citrus, eggs, beans, walnuts, bran cereals and various proteins. Thus when you pack your padkos, select foods like eggs, bite-size pieces of chicken, carrot sticks, oranges, nuts and some dark chocolate in case you have a sweet craving.

Additionally, healthy food aids concentration not only for you but the rest of the car’s occupants. “Ensuring you have healthy snacks in the car is also important for the kids. Eating healthily helps avoids irritability and improves their concentration on planned activities. Along with giving the children time to release some energy at the rest stop playgrounds, the trip should progress much more smoothly,” says Herbert.

Making healthy food choices does not mean you cannot stop at restaurants along the way. “Stop for breakfast or lunch at the rest stops but be wise about the choices you make. Avoid anything which could cause your concentration levels to lag or cause an energy slump shortly after continuing your journey. Then in addition to stopping for meals keep a cool bag in the car with plenty of healthy snacks and water.”

Once you have made your food choices, ensure consuming the food is convenient. “Eating and driving is a form of distracted driving. Ensure your ‘co-driver’ gets the food ready and that you can eat it without removing concentration from the roads. Ideally, try to eat snacks when you stop for rests,” advises Herbert.

Alternatively, pack bite size snacks, already chopped or prepared items and pump-style bottles of water. The food should be easy to access, even if you have a passenger to pass it to you. They should never have to unbuckle or distract you while trying to access the snacks.

Follow these tips to maintain concentration and energy levels throughout your trip so that you arrive safely and in good spirits.  As you think about your Easter holiday trip you should be planning for changed driving conditions. You may have become accustomed to short trips, gridlocked traffic, advanced road networks and limited time spent driving in bad weather. This, however, is unlikely to be the same for your long-distance trip and you should be ready for this, Herbert said.

Your car will likely be fully loaded with luggage and passengers and you may even be towing a trailer or caravan. This changes various aspects of driving: your power and maneuverability will be reduced; It will take longer to stop requiring you to leave larger following distances; children watching movies in the back or getting rowdy may present more distractions. Ensure you have enough activities to keep the kids entertained throughout; avoid reducing your visibility with luggage and pay extra attention to blind spots, mirrors and using the indicator.

Quieter roads in remote areas may be more enjoyable than gridlocked traffic,it still has its own challenges. Keep the following in mind: you are likely to encounter more trucks. Do not pressurise them to drive in the yellow lane if it is not safe. Do not get frustrated with slower moving traffic and consequently make a dangerous overtaking pass. Keep an extra eye open for hazards such as potholes, cyclists, animals or pedestrians as you near towns. When you do return to roads with a higher density, do not get frustrated with gridlocked traffic and other stressed drivers and lose your cool.

If there are bad weather conditions when you leave, you will be stuck in this much longer than you would be on your usual commutes. Follow these tips to stay safe: if visibility is severely reduced stop at a petrol station or other safe places for refreshment s and give the weather some time to clear up; increase following distances in all adverse weather conditions; switch your headlights on – if not on already. Do not switch them on bright in fog where lights on bright can reflect off the fog and take regular breaks as this driving requires more concentration. As a rough guide plan to stop every two hours.

Many routes require you to drive through mountain passes. This is what you should do: stay hydrated on high mountain passes to avoid altitude sickness; take regular breaks as it is often more strenuous driving – pull over at a safe place and enjoy the view; be careful that the scenery does not distract you so much that it becomes dangerous; increase following distance as sudden stops can be more common; hugging the centre line can be dangerous on curves; ensure you have more than enough space to pass vehicles on the ascent as your vehicles power will be considerably reduced and allow for broken down vehicles and be cautious when negotiating bends through which the road ahead is not visible Your holiday is just as much about the journey as what it is the destination. Endeavour to enjoy the trip so that you arrive feeling calm and ready to start the holiday on a positive note.

Caption: Healthy padkos: make the right choice. Picture: Trang Doan/Motorpress

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