Nothing wrecks a diet more predictably than traveling. There’s something about being away from your own kitchen that not only encourages excessive snacking, but also gives you an excuse to try exotic, unhealthy food.
For those who travel regularly sticking to a healthy meal plan can be downright unimaginable. But with a little planning, it turns out that eating right while hopping from continent to continent isn’t as impossible as it seems.
Whether you’re boarding a plane for parts unknown or simply taking the red eye for another day at work and want to ensure that you stay healthy while traveling, read on!
1. Plan ahead
A quick Google search can easily fill you in on the best and healthiest places to get a bite in whatever city you are headed to. Jot the names, addresses, and phone numbers down for future reference, or simply bookmark them to check later, and you have an entire selection of healthy eats at your fingertips.
2. Stay hydrated
First thing’s first- take in a lot of water and keep your cells refreshed. This keeps your cravings to a minimum. If you want to be smart about it, carry an empty water bottle with you and then ask an attendant to fill it later so that you don’t have to wait for the tray service whenever you need a drink. As a bonus, keeping hydrated also helps you with your jet lag.
3. Pass on the booze
Alcohol carries more calories than you think, and a good buzz makes it difficult to make good food choices when you’re out with friends or colleagues. Keep it to a minimum if you must drink, and if you can opt out, do so. Your waistline will thank you later.
4. Take your healthy habits with you
Pack pre-portioned snacks to take with you en route to your destination, and maybe a larger bag of your favorite healthy treats for further portioning later. Trail mix, homemade granola bars, plain popcorn, nuts, dried fruits, and even beef jerky all make great travel snacks because they’re relatively light, bite-sized, and will keep well for a long time.
Even small portions of fresh fruits and veggies can make it into your packed snack portions – just make a mental note to eat those first!
5. Be mindful of your portions
When at a new place and you notice that the portions are larger than what you would normally have, ask if they have lunch or snack portions, as these are usually smaller. If they don’t, ask a dining companion to go halfsies on a dish. If all else fails, you could ask the restaurant to bag up half your serving and stash it in your hotel room fridge for later.
6. Always choose real food
Airports are always packed with fast food, and when you’re in a rush, they can be especially tempting. But hold off and be a little more discriminating when choosing a meal on the run. Pick wraps or sandwiches on whole wheat, or a bowl of hot soup, if you have the time.
Recently, the trend in airports has been leaning towards healthier food, so you might just be able to grab a fresh salad before you board to take with you.
7. Buffer with breakfast
Breakfast buffets at hotels are usually a smorgasbord of carbs, fats, and sugars. But skip over the waffles, donuts, and hotdogs, and you will usually find a selection of fresh fruits, yogurt, and whole wheat bread. Try asking the staff if they have rolled oats or oatmeal for those who want it.
Pro tip: never skip breakfast, no matter how busy you are on the trip. Skipping will lead to low blood sugar some time during the day and bad meal decisions later on.
8. Buffet wisely
Every hotel has a buffet, and when you’re at a convention, it’s usually the only access to food that you have during the day. Try not to be overwhelmed by the choices and fill up on leafy greens, with dressing on the side. You may also want to skip over the creamy pastas and fried food. Instead, head straight for the carving station if they have one, to fill up on lean cuts of roast chicken, turkey, pork, or beef.
9. Don’t be shy about substitutions
When in doubt, ask. Few restaurants will think twice about granting reasonable requests such as having the salad dressing on the side, or substituting half-and-half for whole cream. You can even ask if they would allow you to substitute your dish’s side of chips with salad or steamed veggies.
If you make your requests clearly and politely, you will find that restaurant staff will be more than happy to help you make healthier choices.
Don’t let travel disrupt your well-laid plans for your diet. Follow the helpful tips above to stay healthy while traveling and you’ll be able to cross borders without having your diet jump the rails.