Between long plane or car rides, a jam-packed schedule, late-night takeout, and big family dinners, eating healthy while traveling is no easy feat. In fact, oftentimes our travel itineraries are based around food: when to stop to eat and rest, what local cuisine you’ll check out, where you’ll take clients to dine and schmooze.
And all that wait and travel time provides plenty of opportunities for mindless snacking and straying away from your diet. But your diet doesn’t have to get thrown off every time you take a trip. Here are seven tips to eat healthy while traveling:
The easiest way to eat healthy? Find healthy foods! Before hitting the road, scope out the healthy food options that are:
- Close to your hotel
- Along your route
- Worth going out of your way for
By having a list of healthy restaurants in your back pocket, you’ll be less likely to settle for fast food on a day you’re travel-weary or just plain stressed.
Pack Your Own Snacks
Packing a supply of well-proportioned, healthy snacks is the key to keeping your diet regular while traveling. And doing so isn’t just better for your waistline — it’s better for your wallet too!
Our advice for snacking smarter on the road includes:
- Pack more snacks than you think you’ll need
- Opt for a variety of healthy, not-perishable foods, like nuts, trail mix, dried fruit, and protein or snack bars. (Make sure they’re TSA approved if you’re flying!)
- Don’t just pack one big bag of almonds; pack separate single-serve portions so you’ll be less likely to overdo it.
By snacking regularly (and healthily), you’ll be able to stay ahead of hunger, prevent possible cravings, and make healthier food choices as you travel. Plus, you’ll save a lot of money (and temptation!) each time you stop to gas up.
Go for Greens
When you do eat out on your trip, we recommend you go for the greens. Salads generally tend to be a healthier, inexpensive, and filling choice, as long as you avoid options with lots of cheese, creamy dressings, or fried meats.
Want to be a savvy salad eater? Get your salad dressing on the side and dip your fork into it between each bite. This approach adds great flavor to your meal while stopping you from using more dressing than you actually need.
If you’re at a sit-down restaurant, share a large entrée with a friend or family member and split the bill. Or you can immediately put half of the order in a to-go box before you start eating. This way, you can prevent yourself from overeating and have a “free” meal to enjoy later.
Make Healthy Food Swaps
Another way you can make your on-the-road meal more heart healthy and diet friendly is to make some healthy food swaps.
For example, if you don’t want salad as your main course, see if you can swap starchy or fatty sides — like mashed potatoes, chips, or fries — with a healthier option, like fruit or a side salad. If you have your heart set on having a sandwich for lunch, see if you can make the swap for a grilled, lighter, or leaner meat option. Learn more about making healthy food swaps.
Say No to Sweets
If you have a sweet tooth, consider freezing some grapes and sliced bananas the night before your trip. Put them in an ice-filled cooler before you leave on your adventure for a healthy, inexpensive treat.
BYOB: Bring Your Own Bottle
Oftentimes, dehydration masks itself as hunger, meaning the reason your stomach starts rumbling mid-flight might not be because you’re hungry, but because you’re dehydrated. The air inside airplanes tends to be quite dry, which can actually lead to dehydration. And the whole “no liquids” policy doesn’t help either.
In order to stay hydrated while traveling and fight off the urge to snack, try carrying a refillable water bottle with you. Get in the habit of filling (and drinking!) it throughout the day, like right after you’ve passed through airport security. Check out our other tips on how to drink more water.
It may take a bit of planning and prep-work, but it’s totally worth it to eat healthy while traveling. Check out our Heart Health Resolutions Checklist for more ways you can make smarter, healthier choices.