I’ve been doing a lot of traveling recently, so I thought I’d share some ideas of how to stay healthy while on the go. My friends always laugh and call me the Snack Queen. So as this alleged Snack Queen, it's only fitting that I write a post on it to share my secrets to staying healthy and eating delicious food while traveling!
With any trip, planning ahead is key. While it’s important to be spontaneous when traveling, planning meals helps reduce stress around your food choices. Most airports, train stations and bus stations don’t have your health in mind. It’s easy to give into temptation when you are stressed and most of the food available is high in salt, sugar and fat. Traveling can also deplete your protein and vitamin stores, so it’s great to have some nourishing food to replace lost nutrients and boost your energy levels. It’s also really fun to open your bag when you’re on the go and have delicious nutritious options to choose from!
1. Plan your meals: If you are going to be traveling for more than a few hours, eat a solid meal before leaving and bring your own meal for later. You can bring your own plastic silverware and ingredients that are easy to assemble. For example, bring an avocado, some bread or crackers, and hummus. When you are ready to eat, simply assemble your meal. You can pack your food in a lunch bag or tote with an ice pack to keep it fresh. Just make sure not to bring things that will leak or get soggy (like salads with dressing or pre-made sandwiches).
2. Pack snacks! Bring things like mini bell peppers, pre-chopped celery, baby carrots and bean or organic yogurt dip. You can also make your own trail mix or energy bars with mixed nuts, seeds and dried fruit. Other easy grab and go snacks are apples, nectarines, bananas, nuts, plantain chips, or organic corn chips. For a high protein snack, bring an organic hard boiled egg or some plant based protein powder to mix into nondairy milk. Just be wary that if you bring an egg, you'll probably alarm whoever is sitting next to you- it can be pretty smelly!
3. Stuck without food? Usually in airports and train stations, there are some healthy options. I’ve seen a lot more organic food and healthy snack foods like corn chips, nuts, multigrain snacks, protein bars or chia bars. Make sure to look at the ingredients- more than 5 or anything you can’t pronounce is likely to be overly processed and high in preservatives. Also look at the amount of carbohydrate per serving on the nutrition facts label. More than 15g per serving is high, so try to eat less of it or go for other whole foods like apples, bananas or nuts.
4. Restaurants: Before you travel, google the place you are going to with the words “organic restaurants” or “vegetarian restaurants” - for example, if you are traveling to Omaha, Nebraska, google the keywords “organic restaurants omaha nebraska” or “vegetarian restaurants omaha.” If nothing comes up, you can google restaurants in that city and look up their menus to find healthy options. If you are unable to choose the restaurant, chefs are usually willing to accommodate your requests. And if not, you can try piece together a healthy meal with vegetable sides and appetizers.
5. Plan where you are staying. If you stay at an Airbnb, a friend’s house or a hotel with a kitchen, you can easily go to a supermarket or farmer’s market and prepare some of your own meals. Even if there’s just a room with no tools or just a refrigerator, you can bring things like granola, chia seeds, hemp seeds, fruit, coconut milk, and nuts with you so that you can have some easy, tasty breakfasts. You can make chia pudding or a delicious parfait with those ingredients.
6. Choose the right moment to splurge. Of course, you want to try the local food! Instead of getting the pizza at the airport, it might be worth waiting until you arrive to enjoy trying the local specialty. It’s ok to indulge once in a while by eating something special that you really want to try. If you decide to eat a treat, do so mindfully by taking a few deep breaths before eating it to check in with your hunger level. Before you take the first bite, look at the food noticing colors and texture. Think about how it was prepared and appreciate the hard work it took to get to your plate. Then slowly put it into your mouth, chewing thoroughly. Halfway through, check in again to see how hungry you are. You may surprise yourself with this mindful eating technique.
7. Stay active! Long hours traveling can leave you stiff and uncomfortable. If you can, stand up and walk around, or do some light stretching in your seat. No shame! The last time I did this there were suddenly two people joining in! Healthy living is becoming more and more in style- so no need to hide it! Once you arrive at your destination, you can take 5-10 minutes after settling in or before bed to take a walk, do a short core workout or do some yoga stretches. You could even put on your favorite song and dance for a few minutes! You don’t need fancy equipment or to do a long workout to be successful- anything you can do to get the blood flowing is awesome!