Eating healthy while traveling appears to be impossible. Many people believe that it is OK to overeat while on vacation or on a trip! And, while experimenting with new foods and relaxing your diet is advised, our healthy eating habits do not have to be completely abandoned. Here are some suggestions to help you maintain healthy eating habits while having fun on your trip.
- Bring some snacks with you. Keep healthy snacks on hand so that when hunger or thirst strikes, you don’t have to rush to the next ice cream counter to satisfy your urge. Nuts, berries, dried fruits, pre-made sandwiches, string cheese, hard-boiled eggs, and roasted chickpeas are some examples of on-the-go items to have in your handbag or backpack.
- Cook for yourself whenever possible. Dining out and trying different meals is a big part of traveling. This is by no means discouraged, but chances are you’ll eat more calories and spend more money eating out than you would at home. You have more choice over what you eat when you can cook for yourself, and you have the choice to create something nutritious. When I travel, I usually look for accommodations with a kitchen so that I can make the majority of my meals and save a few for a night out.
- Stay hydrated. You’ll probably be walking or moving a lot while you travel, and hunger and thirst are often confused. Staying hydrated can assist you in maintaining your energy levels and avoiding unhealthy eating habits.
- Fill your tank. Don’t go off on a journey if you’re hungry. Not to say that you should fill your stomach before leaving, but leaving on an empty stomach with no food packed will usually result in snacking on whatever is available at the time, nutritious or not.
- Consider separate serving quantities if possible. One of the most fascinating aspects of traveling is trying new meals and cuisines. Even as a dietician, I would never stop someone from trying new foods, healthy or not. However, if you’re eating a certain dish, especially one that’s considered unhealthy, merely to taste it, consider splitting it with someone you’re traveling with so you get the experience but without as many of the risky ingredients.
- Make wise street food selections. Other popular vacation experiences include trying street food and visiting food markets. In these instances, remember a simple rule: fruits and vegetables first, avoid fried foods, and restrict starchy foods as much as possible. Request a Thai vegetable bowl with grilled sesame chicken instead of sweet and sour chicken (which is traditionally deep-fried) on top of fried rice. There are still plenty of healthy(ish) options available at these establishments, and they are almost certainly all tasty.
- Take proper care of yourself. Traveling will provide you with a plethora of dining options. Allowing yourself to try or consume anything because it isn’t the healthiest option will just increase your craving for it and deprive you of the opportunity to try something new. Allow yourself that experience and consider compensating elsewhere (for example, cook a lighter/healthier supper that night, make sure you’re meeting your daily activity goals, skip the glass of wine at lunch, etc.).