Eating Healthy When Travelling
Eating healthy is hard when you’re new to it, no doubt. It takes education, commitment, planning, and perseverance to master healthy habits. It’s hard enough when you are at home, in your own city, know where to go for a good meal, or are reassured by the fact that you can cook up a home cooked healthy meal any night of the week. However, it’s a whole new ball game when it comes to sticking to your commitment to eat healthy while travelling.
Now that it’s summer, you may be planning more family trips by car or by plane, and likely still have to commit to your regular business trips, so needless to say, it can be easy to make excuses as to why you can’t stick to a healthy eating routine on the road. But what if I told you that, not only is it possible to stick to your healthy eating routine when travelling, but it could actually make for a more enjoyable, stress free trip?
There’s nothing worse than making significant progress on your health goals, only to have all the momentum squashed because of a summer of travelling. Making an effort to eat healthy on the road takes away the stress or guilt you may have for falling off the healthy train and you’ll be grateful for the accomplishments you were able to make rather than being upset you’ll have to start everything over when you get back. Furthermore, when you don’t eat well for a while, you may experience feelings of bloating, uncomfortable fullness, sluggishness etc. after eating a non-healthy meal. There’s nothing that ruins a work meeting or a boat trip like the feeling of heavy food sitting around in your stomach.
So, with that, here are my top tips for mastering healthy eating on the road:
- Organize and Plan ahead: Before you leave, have an idea about what foods are completely off limits for you and which you are willing to slide in. You may choose to dine at one of your favorite restaurants for one night of the trip, or understand that there will be a work function where you have a set menu and no option for substitutions. If you at least understand what you can control and what you absolutely can’t, it helps eliminate any guilt or back and forth mind banters with yourself as to whether or not you should eat something. Plus, you’ll be able to prepare what you are going to pack and/or buy ahead of time.
- Hotel: Find a hotel with a mini fridge where you can store food that you can bring with you to tackle those evening snack attacks, and keep you fueled in between meals. Sometimes the hotel breakfast won’t have the best options to choose from, so bringing your own homemade pre- blended smoothie, yogurt or boiled eggs to have in your room before you head out for the day is a perfect solution! Pair it with some fresh fruit from the hotel buffet and you’re set to go!
- Packing Food: If you plan on bringing some perishable food items, make sure to pack them in a cooler bag you can throw over your shoulder along with gel ice packs to keep it cold during your travel time. If you’re unsure whether the ice packs will make it through security at the airport, bring some large zip lock bags and fill them with ice once you are past security from a coffee or drink shop. If travelling long distances in the car, you can bring an electric cooler, which plug right into the car socket and acts like a portable fridge! For long plane trips, the best option is to prepare meals to go (and who wants airplane food anyway?). Bring a ready-made salad with meat and dressing or sandwiches from home, or at least protein bars with veggies to keep you going.
Food ideas to pack when travelling (non-perishable)
- Bars like Lara Bars, Kind Bars, or Vega Protein Bars
- Low Sodium Beef Jerky
- Nuts and Seeds or a pre-made trail mix
- Roasted Chickpeas
- Dried or freeze-dried fruit (like apple or mango chips)
- Fresh fruits like apples, bananas, oranges and avocados
- Canned light tuna/sockeye salmon
- Whole grain crackers/Ezekiel bread
- Individual packets of peanut butter/almond butter/coconut butter
Food ideas to pack when travelling (perishable)
- Raw vegetables like carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, zucchini etc. with some hummus for dipping
- Hard boiled eggs (pre-peeled!)
- Pre-cooked roasted sweet potatoes, corn
- Pre-cooked pasta/rice/quinoa etc.
- Pre-cooked meats like beef/chicken/turkey/shrimp/salmon
- Cheese portions
- Mini yogurt
- Individual packages of guacamole, tzatziki, or hummus
Additional items to think about bringing include a reusable water bottle, coffee mug, plastic utensils and napkins. Also, don’t be afraid of bringing supplements with you like magnesium or Vitamin D. Bring your own herbal tea or dark chocolate if that’s routine for you to have during the day. It’s important to keep some semblance of structure while you’re travelling so you don’t throw your body off too much!
My last and final tip is this – DON’T STRESS!
While it’s important to do what we can to make the best decisions while travelling, there’s also still the importance of not stressing too much over things and enjoying local food and drinks while you’re there. You’re there to enjoy yourself, plus – stress itself causes digestive upset and the inability to absorb and digest your food well, so you won’t be doing yourself any favors by overthinking it too much. As long as you plan ahead as to what you are willing and not willing to compromise on, you will be prepared and feel great with the decisions you make.
Check out my go-to breakfast while travelling – individually portioned protein oatmeal ready to go with just a little hot water!
Edwena Kennedy, RD
Signature Health Dietitian