Enjoying good food in a new place is one of the best parts of traveling. However, you may find that going on the road can make it tricky to stick to healthy eating habits. Read on for a few tips on how to find healthy food options in unfamiliar places.
1. Travel Prepared
“Start your travels off on the right foot by eating a well-balanced meal before heading to the airport,” our resident dietitian Jason Lau, MS, RD, CDN, advises. “If you show up to the airport hungry, you’ll be more tempted by the not-so-healthy options there.” Folks who are too busy to eat before leaving home could also consider bringing their food with them. “I bring my favorite snacks with me, like granola bars, nuts and fruits. It’s more convenient when I have healthy options with me and I don’t have to spend money on overpriced airport food,” says Korin Lee, MPH.
Another way to travel prepared is stop at the grocery store beforehand to purchase a prepared healthy item like a salad or sandwich. “Many foods can be taken through airport security, with the exception of liquid-based foods like soup,” says Megan Murphy, our client success manager and frequent traveler. Find out how to build a balanced snack and browse our snack recipes for travel-friendly food inspiration.
2. Shop Strategically
It’s not always possible to arrive at airport with healthy foods on hand, so there are a few ways to make the most out of the available options. “Head to the refrigerated sections, which often have healthier options like Greek yogurt and fresh fruit,” says Jason.
If you’re unimpressed by the food offerings at your terminal, consider walking to a different airline’s terminal. “Find out which airline hub your airport is,” says Megan. “That airline is more likely to have a larger and newer terminal, such as JetBlue’s Terminal 5 at JFK airport. Head there and you’ll likely find more restaurants and cafés that have healthier options on the menu.”
3. Find Familiar Foods
Hotel room service and chain restaurants often have heavy menu items that may not fit the criteria of a healthy meal. “Some easy ways to lighten-up restaurant meals include forgoing full-fat dairy items and choosing a healthful preparation method such as roasting or steaming,” says Jason. Check out our Restaurant 101 blog series for more tips on how to order lighter meals, like when dining at Thai, Greek and Italian restaurants. “When I’m looking for a healthy restaurant meal, I’ll often ask for something custom,” says Megan. “Most restaurants have healthy staples like brown rice, beans or lentils, and steamed veggies on the menu. And you can easily combine them into a delicious and healthy meal.”
Additionally, consider heading to the grocery store to stock up on fresh fruits and veggies. “If your hotel room has a kitchenette or refrigerator, keep some fruits and veggies on hand so you’ll have easy access to fiber-rich produce,” says Korin.
If your hotel offers a continental breakfast, “look for whole grain options like oatmeal,” says Jason. “Whole grains will help keep you full longer and less likely to overeat during the day.” And when going for eggs, keep in mind that scrambled egg and omelet mixes may contain extra food additives and preservatives. “I opt for hard-boiled eggs so that I know I’m getting only the real egg,” says Megan.
Do you have tried-and-true healthy travel tips? Let us know in the comments.