Healthy Eating Travel Series Part 2 – Enjoy, but don’t regret. Tips for healthy eating while traveling.

“So what will we do with the rest of the food in the fridge? Throw it out?” The question my parents asked as we prepared to leave the rented beach condo. Due to the lack of food options in the area and to increase efficiency in finding meals, we had bought some staples (eggs, yogurt, salad items, cheeses, rotisserie chicken etc) to enjoy breakfast on the patio and some dinners or lunches at the condo.  As we packed up, left overs consisted of some cheese, salad greens, salami, rotisserie chicken, English muffins, tortillas, hummus, and fruit. My response. “Heck no!” “I’ll make us some to go items for the return trip”. I re-used the container that we had brought our “Kitchen sick” salad in for our meal on the plane. (“Kitchen Sink” – as it used every last bit of chopped salad ingredients and leftovers). We made wraps for my parents and stored them in the tortilla bag. On the plane, my husband made mini salami cheese sandwiches using the two leftover English muffins. Nice with the complimentary wine the steward gave as sympathy for lap travel with 15 month old for a 3.5 hour flight.

We re-purposed, re-used so on our long travel day we had a homemade breakfast, lunch and thus didn’t feel like we were pushing our health when we ate at JFK before our 9pm flight home.
Why consider healthy eating shortcuts while traveling? Running offensive on your vacation eating plan can help you return to your health regime with less pain and less transition. Enjoy but don’t regret.


How to do it? Think of it as a 3 step process:
  • Start the vacation by eating well as you leave the house. The healthy mindset will linger into at least the first few days. Thus, keeping some of those health intentions high versus saying “What’s the use, its vacation…” and throwing every bit of eating sense out the window.
  • Enjoy but don’t indulge to the point of regret especially when you see those extra pounds, upset stomach and cranky attitude upon your return.
  • Cut the corners – have healthy options on hand. Split a salad every other day or every meal. I’ll elaborate with various scenarios below. 

I’ve tackled a few eating on the road scenarios and this certainly isn’t exhaustive, so please Contact me with your questions.

Air travel: Air travel can be tricky especially if you end up stuck hungry without options. Quick tips below for brown bagging it or choices at the airport. (Stay tuned for my airport eating guide focusing on cutting your losses, energizing meals and staying full without the crash).
  • Bring a Tupperware of all your fridge leftovers. Chopped up cheese or nuts.
  • Focus on what you should have, not what you need to deny yourself. Is the loaded nachos at the brewery house pub worth it? Why not wait until at the resort.
  • Choose the places offering a variety of salad with options to add protein.
  • Even a reasonably sized plain hamburger is better than the loaded fries – and you can omit he bun if necessary.

Stocking the hotel: Most hotels have a small fridge, but if they don’t, skip to “snacks to go”. This is your opportunity to ensure your blood sugar doesn’t crash as well as preventing overeating at dinner for the fear you won’t have food around.  Just keep those portion sizes in check with the in room dining as well.  Think of it like your fridge at home – don’t raid it.
  • Nuts, seeds and more nuts. Don’t worry about the fat – this is the good fat that will help you stay satiated. Waiting to have brunch? Have a handful to stave off hunger pains. Getting ready for dinner and need a snack – have a handful instead of that beer or glass of wine.
  • Fruit – apples, oranges and pears preferably with bananas as the last resort.  Apples and pears are full of fiber without spiking blood sugar like a banana. Bananas however, are ideal for a pre-workout bite at that hotel gym or morning hike.
  • All –natural, few ingredient bars. KIND and 88 Acres are my two easily found and inexpensive favs. Or if you want dessert later, have one of the chocolate based ones to help with post drinking sugar cravings.
  • Plain, full fat yogurts and cheeses. If you want more substantial meals in the room and have the space, focus on these to provide energy and satiation.
  • More ambitious? Can you pack snacks from home – quinoa semolina spinach cakes, zucchini fritters, meatballs? These pack and store well on trips, with easy single serve portions. These are ideal for food desert locations and when you need to really keep your health in check.

Snacks to go: Beyond what is mentioned above for stocking the hotel, these are quick snacks for short or long road travel or when having that urban adventure.
  • Cut up cheese squares or string cheese.
  • Chia oatmeal
  • Fruit, nuts, seeds.
  • Acai berries, cacao nibs – great for a boost of energy.
  • Low sugar, few ingredient bars. KIND, 88 Acres, Healthy Warrior Chia Bars.
  • Carrot sticks, peppers, radishes cut up.
  • Peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter packs
  • Beef Jerky
  • Hard boiled eggs

Dining out:
  • Split appetizers, split entrees and order appetizers as mains (be wary though as appetizers can be much richer and more decadent).
  • Avoid fried.
  • Load up on veggie sides.
  • 90/10 rule. 10% of meal is indulgence, 90% on track. For instance, if you have a glass of wine pass up the dessert or that bread basket. If you have that dessert, split the appetizer or forgo it at all.
  • Review the menu before you arrive and before you are hungry.
  • Think about what your body needs – did you have a salad today? Did you have an intense day of walking and activities so some healthy grains are in order? Do you have an energetic afternoon?Always protein, carb (vegetable or grain preferable), and healthy fat at every meal.
  • Don’t SKIP THE MEAL TO COMPENSATE FOR THE FUN LATER – check out my holiday party preparation blog on why this isn’t the smartest tactic to weight loss. 
So when you return, your diet won’t have been totally derailed and returning to your exercise routine and healthier eating habits won’t seem so begrudgingly impossible.  For more tips on how to re-enter the wellness world post trip with thoughtful preparation, check out my April blog post. Need more tips or a plan to motivate yourself into sustainable goals? Have questions or travel eating challenges? I would love to hear from you! Contact me

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