Maybe it’s a much needed vacation getaway, or just another one of those business trips, maintaining healthy eating habits while traveling can be a big challenge. Avoiding unhealthy foods is tough enough as it is, but it can seem impossible if you are rushing to a long flight and will be spending the next few days running in and out of meetings.
Well, fear no more! I have 7 tips to help you eat healthy while traveling and keep you going strong.
1. Pack It In Advance
At the moment, food is still allowed in all forms of transportation (plane, bus, train, boat) so use it to your advantage by packing easy to-go meals and snacks to keep in your carry on. If you are traveling through the airport, all foods must be wrapped, packed, or contained. Also, the no liquid over 3.5 ounces rule applies here so leave dressings, sauces, or creamy substances at home if they are greater than said amount.
Here are 7 healthy travel snack examples:
1) Dried fruit and nut mix – Mix your favorite combo and throw them into the perfectly portioned snack bags. Some of my favorites are pistachios (shelled) and dried cranberries OR raisins and almonds. For a lower calorie, crunchier option, add a high fiber cereal (> 6gm of fiber, < 8gm of sugar) 2) Nut butter sandwich – Choose your favorite and slap it between 2 slices of 100% whole wheat or whole grain bread. I love Justin’s Nut Butter travel packs as an option too!.
3) Fruit – Make it easy by throwing a portable fruit in your bag. Apples and bananas are great go-tos for this.
4) Turkey sandwich – Try a low-sodium turkey breast (nitrate/nitrite-free is also a great choice) on 100% whole wheat or whole grain bread with your favorite mustard. Hint: adding mustard in between turkey slices will prevent soggy bread.
5) Veggies slices – If you don’t have the time to cut them, buy them pre-cut and throw them into a sandwich bag. Here’s an article on the best healthy snacks for the office that can also make a great travel snacks.
6) A health food bar – Choose ones that are made from whole and minimally processed ingredients and at least 8 grams of protein. Also, watch the sugar in these bars. Try to aim for less than 12 grams of sugar per bar. Some of my favorites include KindBar Protein Plus, Think Thin, NuGo Bar, Oskri Bar, Clif Mojo, The Good Bar, Luna, Luna Protein, and Simply Bar.
7) Protein powders – These are great if you have a re-usable water bottle. Throw powder in with water or skim milk and you’ve got a great treat. Tera’s Whey and Vega offer great to-go packs!
If you are traveling by car, bring a cooler. This will expand your options tremendously!
2. Buy It On Your Way
If you weren’t able to pack in advance, which is ideal, you CAN make the right choice when purchasing food at the airport, train station, gas station, or bus station. A few items that are available at most terminals and stations are:
3. Look Around
Most of us rush to the station or terminal to sit and wait. Instead of going to the first vendor, use that time to look around at your options (and get some exercise). There has been a huge trend toward offering healthier options in almost all travel areas including airport terminals, bus stations, rest stops, and train stations. I know it isn’t perfect everywhere, but if you pack what you can, you can make it work!
4. Call Ahead
If you are on a flight that will be serving meals, call the airline ahead of time. Most airlines will accommodate your health needs by offering meals that are lowfat, vegetarian, gluten-free, low sodium, etc. Or, opt out of airplane food all together by packing your own meal.
5. Stay Mindful
Who wants indigestion, an upset stomach, or low energy when traveling? Eating unhealthy foods while traveling may be easy, but it won’t make traveling fun. Keep this in mind when perusing your options.
4. Stay Hydrated
It is important to stay hydrated while traveling, which is especially important on long flights. We feel most comfortable when humidity is around 50% – meaning the air is 50% saturated with water. Air in an airline cabin can fall to as low as 1% on long flights.
Dehydration can lead to headaches, muscle cramps, fatigue, and reduced concentration. Water and herbal teas are great ways to keep you going. If you are prone to upset stomachs or nausea, bring along a few herbal tea bags such as ginger or chamomile.
7. Smart Restaurant Choices
These can make or break a diet. Think about the same things you would if you were home:
Healthy Airport Restaurant Chart
If the airplane is your mode of travel, here is a top 10 list of the latest rankings from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine:
To read the complete report, visit wwwPCRM.org/AirportFood.
I hope you now have more confidence to eat healthy while traveling. Safe travels and don’t forget your exercise gear!