Maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle can be difficult to manage while traveling. Let’s be honest, the moment many of us begin a road trip or step foot in an airport, our diets go right out the window. With limited quick healthy meal options on-the-go, and an over abundance of fast food restaurant options so easily accessible, it can make it all too easy to make poor food choices; as well as pack on the extra calories.
However, with a little planning, you can make healthier choices and avoid falling into a rut. Don’t let travel derail your goals, drain your energy, and lower your health standards. Here are a few tips to help you succeed and get the most out of your travel. This way you can enjoy the amazing adventures ahead, rather than beating yourself up over some poor food choices.
10 healthy eating travel tips
1) Opt for grocery stores rather than fast food chains
While it is convenient to go through the drive through, it can be just as easy to enter a grocery store and grab a healthier food option. Produce, nuts, and hummus are just a few healthy ideas. Getting out of your car and walking around gets your body moving and your blood flowing.
2) Stay hydrated
A lot of us might not realize it but thirst can be displayed as hunger. When traveling, if you are feeling the urge to grab an unhealthy snack or meal, drink 8-20 oz of water and wait 15-20 minutes to gauge how you feel. You might find that you are not actually hungry after all. It always helps to stay hydrated throughout the day. Plus, you’ll appreciate the extra energy and pep in your step from that liquid goodness.
3) Decide on one treat
What fun is it if you can’t indulge in some of the local cuisine? Say you are in Chicago and really want to try their deep dish pizza. Do some research and find one of the top rated places that serves your desired item and ENJOY. Just don’t stop and try every location along your journey. It’s important to live a little, just don’t over indulge.
4) Be aware of portions
Just because a restaurant brings you a huge dish, doesn’t mean you have to consume it all. It’s okay to leave some food behind or get a to go box to snack on later. Also, you can order off the appetizer menu for smaller portions. Buffets can be extremely tempting, as there are often so many delicious options to choose from. Try to limit yourself to just one or two unhealthy options or take tiny portions, so that you can enjoy variety without the guilt. The key is to not overeat.
5) Limit your alcohol intake
Even though part of the fun of traveling can be to relax and catch a little buzz, all of those empty calories can derail you. Often times, it can lead to over eating later in the day. If you can, limit yourself to one or two alcoholic beverages a day. Also, try to avoid sugary drinks. A glass of red wine or tequila on the rocks contains a lot less calories than a Pina Colada or a Mudslide.
6) Eat light during the day and don’t skip breakfast
If you know you have a family function, party, or gathering that is going to be heavy on the food, eat light during the day. This way you have a little extra wiggle room for those extra calories you might find yourself snacking on. You will be less tempted to devour everything you see, if you have eaten prior. It’s like eating before you go to the grocery store; if you are starving, you might find yourself wanting to buy everything on the shelves.
7) Ask for dressing on the side
Salads are great and healthy options when traveling. You get your vegetables while avoiding the bloated and calorie loaded feeling that comes with a huge greasy burger and fries. What most people don’t realize is that salad dressing can be loaded with calories! All the calories you might think you are saving by choosing a salad can be thrown out the window if you overload with dressing. Be aware of the calorie count for the salad dressing being used or simply use less. Vinaigrettes are good low calorie dressing choices or try a little olive oil and salt for flavor.
8) Don’t be afraid to ask for substitutes
When at restaurants, don’t be afraid to ask for healthier alternatives. Instead of potatoes with your breakfast, you can ask for a bowl of fresh fruit. Or ask for a side salad or grilled vegetables rather than fries. Most restaurants are willing to accommodate guest requests, so don’t be afraid to ask for your vegetables to be cooked without extra oil or butter.
9) Think protein
Carrying around a bag of nuts to snack on or eating a hard boiled egg can help tide you over until you find a healthier option. Proteins and complex carbohydrates help us feel fuller, longer. They also help prevent spikes in blood sugar.
10) Plan as best as you can but don’t beat yourself up over it at the same time
From flying, to road trips, to sitting on the couch, when you plan ahead, you plan to succeed. Set goals and remind yourself of tips you can use before traveling. Do your best. There is nothing worse than a lose-lose cycle by making bad choices and wasting the rest of your energy feeling bad about it. At the end of the day, give yourself a break.