Snack smart for your trip

I developed a stomach upset on my way to Masaka. This was after I had munched the roast meat with potatoes and washed it down with passion fruit juice served in plastic bottle. I had bought these from Lukaya food vendors. For a frequent traveller on Masaka highway, Lukaya is a stopover where you find all kinds of snacks ranging from roasted beef, chicken, cassava, plantain, and drinks like soda and juice packed in plastic bottles.

It started with nausea, and I had to ask the driver to stop because I was sick. I threw up and the pain eased. I rinsed my mouth with water. I suspect it was the food I had bought from the vendors.

Regardless of your mode of transportation, long journeys include disrupted schedules and changes in your daily diet. While travel food cafes at bus stops or stopovers often consist of processed proteins and carbohydrates, with forethought and a little planning it is possible to eat healthy while traveling.

Moreover, frequent nutrition throughout the day helps keep your blood sugar levels stable, your body energised and your thinking clear throughout your journey.

Keep in mind

Paul Lutaakome, a nutritionist at AAR Health Care Service, says it is not aisable to buy snacks from food hawkers. Such snacks are sometimes poorly handled or even contaminated with dust.

“The hygiene of the vendors is sometimes poor. Even their cooking places as well as utensils may not be clean enough which puts the buyer at risk of contracting diseases such as diarrhoea.”

Therefore, it is important to be mindful of your health when buying snacks from vendors. More so, people with health conditions like hypertension should distance themselves from buying roasted meat because some snacks have a lot of salt which is not good for their condition.

“Diabetics should also be cautious when buying drinks from roadside vendors because some drinks have a lot of sugar which could worsen their condition,” he says.

Risky affair

Lutaakome says,“There is a high risk of eating contaminated food which could cause food poisoning and illnesses like diarrhoea or vomiting. This can be caused by bacteria, parasites or viruses that may result from flies or dust falling on food, car smoke and poor hygiene.”

Lutaakome further says buying snacks from hawkers can also make you get diseases such as brucellosis since some of cattle products like meat and milk are half cooked. Some vendors use unsafe water (unboiled or dirty) to make juice which puts consumers at risk of typhoid fever.”

“Dust contains all sorts of germs from human waste and other decomposed substances. When dust falls on food, the consumers are exposed to diseases like hepatitis A and C.”

What you should do

Lutaakome says it is important to have a balanced breakfast before hitting the road. This could be a cup of black tea, milk or porridge with bread, chapatti and fruits like apples, mangos or yellow bananas.

“Having breakfast also helps you not to spend on snacks that could be dangerous to your health along the way.”

If you are travelling for a long distance, you should pack your own snacks such as chapatti and juice.

“If you cannot make the snacks, buy them from someone whose hygiene status you are sure of. You can also buy them from a supermarket but still make sure you read the nutrition labels and expiry dates. This is because snacks with a lot of fats, sugar or sodium, may not be good for people with chronic conditions like hypertension or diabetes,” says Lutaakome.


Limit your intake or refrain from drinking alcohol while travelling. Alcohol, coffee and carbonated beverages tend to dehydrate your body and can affect digestion and elimination. It is a good idea to keep a container of fresh water.


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