If you’re trying to eat healthily, traveling can be the most surefire way to throw a wrench in your plans. Being on the road or going from the airport to airport often means that you’re at the mercy of whatever’s around you. Depending on where you go, that might limit you to diners or fast food. Fortunately, you don’t have to give up on eating healthy just because you’re away from home — here are some tips to help you stay on track no matter where you go.
While you’re planning your journey, look up local eateries. A lot of places have their menus available online so you can see exactly what they have to offer. Avoid fried or sugary foods, and try to stick to fresh, steamed, or roasted vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
Even if you find an otherwise healthy meal while you’re traveling, don’t forget that restaurants cook for flavor, not nutrition. Even the healthiest options are likely to be high in sodium. Be sure to stay hydrated!
Pack your own snacks.
It might seem like a bit of a no-brainer to take along a cooler filled with healthy snacks, but not all of them travel well. Some foods hold up better than others, so stick to things that are healthful, suitable for packing, and enticing enough to keep you from being tempted to stop for fast food instead. Consider:
- Nuts and seeds, like walnuts, almonds, or pumpkin seeds.
- Apple slices (dipped in lemon juice to prevent browning).
- A small container of nut butter.
- Sliced or baby carrots.
- Guacamole and no-salt tortilla chips.
- Whole grain crackers.
- Rice cakes.
- Protein bars.
- Hard boiled eggs.
- Salads or grain bowls, with dressing on the side.
If you’re traveling by air, remember that foods like yogurt count as liquids. Make sure they’re in containers smaller than 3.4 ounces to avoid issues with airport security.
Bring your own flavors.
If packing along a cooler isn’t an option, you can bring your favorite non-perishable toppings to help dress up otherwise plain options. For example, you’re likely to be able to find some plain yogurt on your trip. Having some nuts, hemp hearts, cinnamon, or honey can help you dress it up a little. This can ensure that you don’t feel deprived, so you won’t want to hit up a less healthy snack later.
Explore your airline’s meal options.
If you’re traveling by flight, you’re not stuck with little bags of pretzels, limp vegetables, and gray meat anymore. Airlines have upped their game when it comes to providing healthy, delicious options made with high-quality ingredients. For example, American Airlines is rolling out a special wellness menu including meals like a mushroom and asparagus frittata, veggie and grain bowls, and roasted chicken. These will be available standard on some flights but will otherwise be limited to pre-orders only. Even if you’re not traveling with American Airlines, check with your airline to see what kind of healthy options might be available to you.
Stick to your regular mealtimes.
If you’re making good time on a road trip, you might be tempted to push through to cover more distance in one go. If that means that you’ll be on the road when you’re usually having dinner, you’re doing yourself a disservice — disrupting your regular eating schedule can lead to low blood sugar, irritability, and cravings. If you normally eat breakfast at 7 AM, lunch at noon, and dinner at 6 PM, try to eat as close to those times as you can. Otherwise, you could end up in an unfamiliar area, ravenous, and struggling to find something healthy to eat.
Going on a trip is fun, but it can also make eating healthfully much more challenging. Remember: Failing to plan is the same as planning to fail. Look at what will be available to you at each of your planned destinations so you can make the best choices for yourself. If you do that, pack along some snacks, stay well hydrated and try to follow your usual mealtimes, you’ll have a much easier time.