Healthful Eating Tips for Travel

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Now that things are opening up again and more people are beginning to travel, we have to ask: can you eat healthfully while traveling for work or fun?

Yes, you can!

Sure, there are plenty of obstacles to wholesome, balanced meals, but smart planning will help you stay the course. Here are 3 ways to come home without extra weight or other health problems.

Tip #1: Pack healthful foods. It’s so tempting to grab a candy bar, bag of chips, or a greasy burger when running through an airport or stopping to fill the car with gas. But temptation is easier to resist when you have good-for-you foods on hand. If traveling by car, bring a cooler with lots of ice or freezer packs. Some good choices include: 

  • Water and other zero-calorie drinks
  • Peanut butter or almond butter sandwiches
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Individual servings of tuna, low-fat yogurt, or cottage cheese
  • Reduced-fat cheese sticks or slices
  • Canned tomato or vegetable juice
  • Washed and ready-to-eat veggies. In addition to carrots and celery sticks, pack baby bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, cauliflower, snow peas, and any other favorites.
  • Fresh fruit. Oranges, clementines, apples, and pears are especially sturdy for traveling.

Though you have fewer options when traveling by plane, you can still make wholesome choices. Take these:

  • Travel water bottle to fill after you go through security.
  • Any leftovers or a travel lunch that can be eaten cold. Carry your food to the airport with a bag of ice. Before walking through security, poor out the ice. When you’re done with security, kindly ask a vendor to fill your bag with ice.
  • Peanut butter or almond butter sandwiches
  • Nuts pre-measured in 1-ounce or ¼-cup servings
  • Individual servings of tuna
  • Fresh fruit and veggies
  • Packaged roasted chickpeas, baked or dehydrated vegetable slices

Tip #2: Make a game plan. Using websites, restaurant guides, and other resources, make good decisions before you need to act on them. For example, if you know you’ll stop at a fast food spot on your long drive, look up various options along your route. For each place, pick out at least two healthful meals. Write down your choices on an index card or in your smart phone and look only at those choices when it’s time to order. Find out what restaurants and kiosks are available at your airport and where they are. There are many more choices than there used to be. Look for hummus wraps, entrée salads in takeaway containers (go light on the dressing), fresh fruit, oatmeal, and nonfat lattes.

Tip #3: Don’t deprive yourself. Don’t eat what you don’t need or don’t love, but be sure to treat yourself to what really matters. We all deserve treats. Feelings of deprivation from avoiding all fancy foods and drinks at a business gathering or saying no to an ice cream cone on your beach vacation can set you up for healthy eating disasters down the line. Treats are perfectly okay. Pick one or two. Then really enjoy -- no guilt allowed.

By Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, CHWC, FAND

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