Whether you are traveling for business or pleasure, it can be difficult to eat healthy when traveling. Here are eight tips to help you savor the local flavors without regrets.
Eating healthy while on the road can be hard:
- It’s hard to say no to Southwest Airline’s honey roasted peanuts or Delta Airline’s Biscotti cookies.
- After a long day of travel, sometimes the airport comfort food is all that sounds good.
- Or maybe your stack of free drink coupons is going to expire soon.
- And sometimes fast food is the only option late at night when you arrive at your destination.
Here are eight ways you can eat healthy while traveling:
1. Plan Ahead
When planning a trip, the kids and I put as much effort into planning what we’re going to eat as we do what we’re going to see. By planning in advance, we can offset an expected high-calorie dinner with a lighter lunch, focus our limited sweet treats on the best ice cream parlor or bakery in the city, and ensure the places we want to try are open on the days and at the times we plan to visit.
2. Pack Snacks
Airplane food is disgusting and airport food is expensive. Your travel schedule may have you seeking breakfast before the coffee shops open or landing after kitchens have closed. Carry your own, healthy snacks so you’re not tempted by unhealthy alternatives (I’m looking at YOU, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels) or to hungrily over-eat at the next meal.
Pro Tip: If you must eat airport food, avoid these places at all costs.
Great snacks for plane travel include:
- Almonds (my secret weapon to combat unhealthy, low-quality hotel breakfast buffets and business meeting donut and muffin spreads)
- Low-sugar protein bars
- Low-sugar, high-protein granola bars
- Granola (my favorite recipe is this one)
Pro Tip: To keep up with the latest TSA rules about what food items can be carried on versus checked in your luggage, click here
Great snacks for car travel (with a cooler) include everything from the list above plus:
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Yogurt (top off with fresh berries and/or granola)
- Cheese sticks
- Carrot sticks, celery sticks, sliced cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and other veggies paired with hummus or another low-calorie dip
3. Stop at a Grocery Store Instead of a Fast Food Restaurant
If time is of the essence, try stopping at a grocery store to grab your meal instead of a fast food joint. Most grocery stores have deli counters, salad bars, prepared sandwiches, pre-packaged vegetable and fruit trays, and other ready to grab and go options.
If possible, select a hotel near a grocery store to make it fast and easy to grab your lunch before a day of exploring or restock your snack supplies.
Pro Tip: Sometimes your only option is fast food. Use this handy dandy survival guide to help you evaluate your options
4. Share an Entree
Most American restaurants serve portions appropriate for at least two people. To help ensure you don’t eat double the calories by cleaning your plate, split an entree with a co-worker or fellow traveler.
If you are traveling alone or no one is interested in sharing with you, divide your entree in half as soon as it arrives. Box up the second half of your meal for leftovers (provided you can properly store and reheat the meal) or pass it along to someone else.
Pro Tip: If the opportunity presents itself, consider passing the second half of your meal along to a homeless person.
5. Make an Appetizer Your Entree
Instead of a dinner entree, select an appetizer. Depending upon the portion size, pair the appetizer with a salad. Another option is to select a tapas or small plate concept restaurant. Not only is it easier not to overeat when you are served smaller portions, but you might also have the opportunity to taste more things on the menu this way.
6. Select a Sexier Side
Yes, a fully-loaded baked potato, French fries, and honey corn bread are all delicious, but, they pack a punch when it comes to calories. Select the healthiest side option available or ask your server if you can substitute a salad, extra serving of vegetables, or fruit.
7. Don’t Feel Like You Have to Clean Your Plate
Most people eat what’s set in front of them — bread basket with butter, chips and salsa, or an entree built for two. Don’t feel like you have to eat it all! This is especially true at business dinners that often contain copious quantities of calories from pre-dinner cocktails to appetizers, from big entrees to dessert.
8. Drink Plenty of Water
Whether you’re at home or on the road, you should drink about 8 oz of water per hour. Don’t let travel get you out of this routine! Lack of sleep and dehydration can spike unhealthy cravings and sink your energy level, so be sure you push the H2O all day long.
Pro Tip: Instead of spending $2 or more per bottle of water in your hotel lobby, fill your reusable water bottle up in the fitness center.
What do you think? Do you have an additional way you eat healthy when traveling? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.
Don’t just take my word for it! Here’s what other bloggers do to eat healthy when traveling:
- Noelle’s tips are organized chronologically, from pre-trip to arrival
- Over at Be My Travel Muse, Kristin offers ten tips to eat healthy while traveling
- If you’ve just returned home from a trip, registered dietician Kath has this advice