Making Healthy Choices on the Road

Eating on the road, especially during competition and tournaments, is important and takes extra pre-planning.

The extra effort is worth it t make sure your young athlete has the proper fuel for optimal performance, familiar foods t avoid stomach upset, and finally make sure the options are healthy and well balanced.

Think ahead when choosing a restaurant:

  • Know your menu terms and cooking terms
    • Healthy terms: broiled, baked, grilled, steamed, poached, roasted
    • Terms t avoid: fried, sautéed, crispy, creamy, rich, au gratin, battered, buttered, stuffed
  • Look up the menu ahead of time
  • Download application on Smart Phone
  • Try ordering ahead of time
  • D not be afraid t ask questions and request substitutions
  • High fat items could weigh you down or cause stomach upset which affects performance
    • Not optimal for recovery after a game or hard practice
  • Healthy beverage choices
    • Stick t water, small glass of juice, or milk
    • Avoid caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea, or soda

Breakfast: Keep it simple

The rule of thumb t use when eating at a fast food restaurant is the simpler the better.

High Carbohydrate/Low Fat

High Fat Foods To Avoid

  • Cereal (hot or cold) with banana and granola
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Bagels
  • Waffles w/fruit and syrup
  • English Muffins
  • Low-fat muffins
  • Pancakes
  • Toast (whole wheat) with jam
  • Fruit/fruit juices
  • Skim or low fat milk
  • Yogurt
  • Breakfast sandwiches made with cheese, sauce, bacon, or sausage
  • Side dishes (hash browns, etc.)
  • Danish
  • Croissants
  • Biscuits

Lunch and dinner: It's what on top that matters

Making healthy choices for lunch and dinner at fast food restaurants isn't as simple as limiting your athlete t the salad bar and avoiding the burgers, pizza, and sandwiches. It's often a matter of what's on top (i.e. the dressings, toppings, and condiments) that determines whether the meal is high carbohydrate, low fat or not.


Not As Healthy


  • Single
  • Without "special sauce" (ketchup or mustard are better)
  • Without cheese
  • Tomatoes and lettuce
  • Double (if your athlete wants a double burger, get it without cheese)
  • Super, deluxe or supreme
  • With cheese and/or bacon
  • Sauce

Chicken and Fish

  • Grilled, roasted or broiled
  • Barbecue sauce or spices
  • Breaded or deep fried
  • Mayonnaise-based sauce


  • Thin crust
  • Vegetable toppings (mushrooms, spinach, onion, green/red peppers, hot peppers, pineapple, and broccoli)
  • Leaner protein options (chicken, Canadian bacon, low-fat mozzarella or ricotta cheese)
  • Thick crust
  • Fatty meat toppings (pepperoni, sausage, bacon)
  • Extra whole cheese


  • Lean meat (roast beef, chicken, turkey, ham, plain tuna)
  • Low fat cheese
  • Spices (oregano, pepper)
  • Mustard, ketchup, BBQ sauce
  • Tomatoes
  • Vegetables, pickles, hot or sweet peppers
  • Roll, bagel, pita bread, tortilla, hearty grain bread
  • Tuna or chicken salad (the mayonnaise adds fat)
  • Mayonnaise
  • Oil
  • "Special" sauce
  • Croissants
  • Biscuits


  • Baked with low fat toppings (nonfat sour cream, chives, grated cheese, mushrooms, broccoli, chili)
  • French fries (if your athlete does have fries, get a small order, or, better yet, have them share an order with another player)
  • Baked with high fat toppings (cheese sauces, regular sour cream, bacon

Soup and Salad Bar

  • Salad greens
  • Fresh fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Plain pasta
  • Lean protein toppings (low-fat cheese, low-fat cottage cheese, kidney beans, egg whites, plain tuna, chicken, turkey or roast beef)
  • Low fat or nonfat salad dressings
  • Broth-based soups (chicken/turkey with noodles/rice, minestrone, vegetable, black bean, lentil, and green pea)
  • Prepared salads (potato, macaroni, coleslaw; again it is the mayonnaise that adds the fat)
  • Pasta with mayonnaise or oil
  • Bacon bits
  • Olives
  • Blue cheese, regular salad dressings
  • Cream-based soups (clam chowder, cream of mushroom, broccoli or asparagus)


  • Soft flour or corn tortillas
  • Quesadillas, soft tacos or burritos with chicken, beans, beef or vegetables
  • Low fat condiments (salsa, non fat sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes)
  • Fried tortillas
  • Regular sour

Information cited from:

Consult your primary care physician for more serious injuries that do not respond to basic first aid. As an added resource, the staff at Nationwide Children’s Hospital Sports Medicine is available to diagnose and treat sports-related injuries for youth or adolescent athletes. Services are now available in five locations. To make an appointment, call (614) 355-6000 or request an appointment online.