Eating healthy while traveling almost seems like an oxymoron. Many people feel that when they’re on vacation or a trip, it’s time to indulge! And while trying new foods and relaxing a bit with your diet is encouraged, our healthy eating habits don’t have to be completely thrown out the window. Here are some tips to stick to healthier eating habits while still enjoying your trip.
Pack snacks. Have healthy snacks readily available so that when a burst of hunger or thirst strikes, you don’t jump at the first ice cream stand to satisfy your craving. Some examples of easy, on the go snacks to pack in your purse or backpack include (but not limited to) nuts, fruit, dried fruits, pre-made sandwiches, string cheese, hard boiled eggs, and roasted chickpeas.
Cook for yourself when possible. Part of traveling is dining out and trying new foods. By no means is this discouraged,, but chances are, you’ll be consuming unnecessary calories and spending more money when you’re dining out in comparison to eating at home. When you have the ability to cook for yourself, you have more control over what you’re consuming and have the option to prepare something healthy. I always look for an accommodation in the place I’m visiting that includes a kitchen so I can prepare the majority of meals myself and save a few for a night out.
Stay hydrated. Chances are, you’re doing a lot of walking or exploring when you’re traveling and hunger can often be confused with thirst. Staying hydrated will keep your energy levels up and avoid unnecessary snacking.
Fill Up. Don’t start a trip on an empty stomach. Not that you need to stuff your face before heading out, but leaving the house/apartment/hotel/hostel on an empty stomach without any food packed will generally lead to snacking on whatever is available at that time, healthy or not.
Consider splitting serving sizes, if possible. One of the best parts of traveling is trying new foods and new cuisines. Even as a dietitian I would never discourage trying new foods, healthy or not. But if you’re trying a certain food, especially one that’s deemed unhealthy, simply to try the food, consider splitting this with someone you’re traveling with so you still get the experience but without as much of the unhealthy bits.
Make savvy street food selections. Trying street food and visiting food markets are very common experiences while traveling. In these situations keep a simple rule in mind: fruits and vegetables first, avoid fried foods, and limit the starchy items when possible. For example, choose a Thai veggie bowl with grilled sesame chicken instead of sweet and sour chicken (which is often deep fried) on top of a bed of fried rice. There are still plenty of healthy(ish) items at these locations and chances are, they will all be tasty.
Treat yourself. Traveling is going to offer you a lot of food options. Not allowing yourself to try or eat something because it’s technically not the healthiest option will only make you crave it more and will deny you of an opportunity to try something new. If there’s something you really want, allow yourself that experience and consider making up for it elsewhere (ex: choose to make yourself dinner that night of something lighter/healthier, make sure you’re reaching your step goals for the day, skip the glass of wine at lunch, etc.)
Have any tried-and-true tips for travel? Share them in the comments!