How to Eat Healthy While Traveling

A lot of people take advantage of the warm summertime weather and the kids being out of school by planning vacations and little road trips. Because of this, summer can end up being a stressful time.

One of the things that can add a lot of anxiety to a trip that should be fun and relaxing is food.

When spending time away from home, whether flying or driving, eating healthy can be challenging. There is nothing worse than going on vacation only to come home to a suitcase full of dirty clothes and an extra five pounds showing on the scale. UGH!

There are some things I have learned to do over the last few years that can help minimize some of the “vacation eating” damage that ultimately happens. These are also things I incorporate into my everyday life when I eat out.

So, before you jump on the next flight out of town, check out my top 3 tips for eating and surviving while traveling.

Tip #1: Pack a cold bag

Nowadays, you can’t count on getting anything to eat on planes. If you are lucky enough to be on a flight with food, chances are it’s super expensive and not something you’d want to eat anyway.

Having a cold bag, packed with grab-n-go snacks, has been a lifesaver for me on more than one occasion.  

I like to make a batch of Almond Crackers with some of my guacamole (I’ll share both of these super-easy recipes next week). If I don’t have time to make either of those things, I will grab my favorite flax crackers and cut up some chunks of grass-fed cheese or brie.

I also like to have red peppers, cucumbers, celery, broccoli and cauliflower to dip in the guac or my homemade balsamic vinaigrette.

Nuts are great for emergency eating - I try not to rely on them too heavily, though, because they can be carb-dense. I pre-measure out a serving (usually ¼ cup) in a baggie so I don’t have to worry about overeating. Be sure to choose raw and sprouted whenever possible.

For longer flights (or worse, long car trips) having a variety to choose from will help eliminate some of the temptation to break bad. 

Tip #2: Water, water and more water

This should really be number 1 on the list for a couple of reasons. First, whenever I fly, everything from my fingers to my toes swell. My skin dries out and the inside of my nose feels like the Sahara Desert.

I buy 2 -1 liter bottles (the bigger, the better) of water at the airport. I drink one before I even step on the plane, and the other one while I’m in the air.  *Warning: Plan on grabbing a seat by the bathroom. You will be using it a few times while in the air.

As tempting as an adult beverage might be, wait until you get to your destination. It will only dehydrate you more. It may seem counter-intuitive but by drinking more water, you reduce the swelling in your feet and hands.

Secondly, it doesn’t matter where you go out to eat, you’ll be bombarded with a ton of sodium. The best way to counteract the potential problems caused by too much salt is to drink... you guessed it: water. 

Tip #3: Ask for a Gluten-Free menu

These days, most restaurants have either a designated gluten-free menu or, at the very least, gluten-free options.

But remember, just because it’s on the gf menu, doesn’t mean you get the green light.

Remember to stay away from the grains (including rice and quinoa), potatoes and sugar.

FYI: Outback’s Chocolate Thunder From Down Under is gluten-free but NOT something I’d order unless I was fully embracing “vacation eating” and willing to accept the health consequences I inevitably suffer.

If you are going on a cruise or to some other all-inclusive getaway, gluten is usually listed as a food allergy and you can opt for a special menu. I have been pleasantly surprised a few times with better food than what was being served to other guests. 

Most of all, don’t be too hard on yourself.

Even with preparation and vigilance, it’s not always going to turn out well. Shit happens. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed, just that you’re human.

Do the best you can and if you indulge in some “vacation eating”, set limits and have a plan for when you return home.