Traveling and healthy eating often seem like a paradox. However, with a few changes to your on-the-go routine, healthy options won’t be as hard to find as you may think. As avid travelers, we’ve rounded up a few of our top tips for nutritious choices to look for during the busy travel season.
Before you dig into the in-flight meal or buy in-fight snacks for sale, consider how long you will be in the air. If a flight is less than 4-5 hours, try having a healthy meal prior to boarding. Include complex carbohydrates like whole grains or fresh fruit, lean proteins like Greek yogurt or eggs, and a healthy fat such as chia seeds or nuts. This combination should hold you over for the 4-5 hours of travel, allowing you to choose more healthful options when landing. However, eating in-flight is often a reality. During these longer flights, try to plan ahead by bringing healthy, TSA-approved snacks like whole produce or pre-measured servings of nuts. Almost all airports offer fruit and nut bars for on-the-go snacks — our favorites include RXBAR, LARAbars, or KIND bars. Look for a bar with ingredients you recognize, like egg whites, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit, without added sugar. If an in-flight meal is unavoidable for those longer flights, choose the entree and vegetable-rich side dish and include lean proteins, like chicken or fish, rather than the higher fat alternatives.
We are all familiar with the dry cabin air, so choosing hydrating drinks and pre-planned snacks such as water-rich foods, such as cucumbers, bell peppers, or berries, will help combat dehydration, too. Try to avoid beverages with alcohol, caffeine (soda) or sodium (tomato juice), as these will only worsen dehydration. Instead, stick with sparkling or still water, or try bringing along your own large water bottle to refill in the airport.
Arrival: Hotel Room
Hotel room minibars can tempt the best of us. Instead of relying on these treats for snacks, plan ahead by bringing your own healthy snacks from home. Pack whole fruit or sliced veggies that will last without refrigeration, such as snap peas or carrot sticks. Not much of a planner? Consider purchasing snacks or breakfast options at a convenience store or coffee shop on your way to the hotel. Options like protein bistro boxes or unsweetened instant oatmeal cups are pretty easy to find and can be stored in your hotel room or minibar fridge. Too difficult to avoid the temptation? Request your hotel removes the minibar treats altogether — call ahead to ask and they will have the room ready for your arrival.
Dining out can be daunting for many, but keeping a few tips in mind will make menus easier to navigate. As a general rule, make at least half of your plate or meal consist of non-starchy vegetables (think salad, dark leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli, bell peppers, green beans, rather than potatoes, squash, peas, beans or corn). Filled with water and fiber, non-starchy vegetables will help you feel full, without the additional calories. Next, choose a lean protein of the broiled, baked or grilled variety, and round out the meal with a quality starch of your choice, like brown rice, quinoa, or a baked potato. To eyeball portions, stick to a palm-sized portion of protein and the amount of starch that can fit under your hand.
Overall, when dining out during a trip, be sure to allow yourself to choose mindful indulgences that mean the most to you. If you’re not a dessert person, maybe a cocktail sounds like a better choice for one meal. Or, if the bread basket looks interesting, allow yourself to try a piece, but choose a healthful entree choice and maybe skip the second drink. Giving yourself a chance to browse the menu and think about the meal in its entirety will allow for a few mindful indulgences in a predominantly healthy meal.
Enjoy a guilt-free trip by trying a few of these healthy suggestions from FEED!