Relax. Eating nutritiously while traveling doesn’t have to be scary.
While I am looking forward to hosting Thanksgiving in my home, I know many of you will be traveling to celebrate with relatives. Staying healthy while traveling, whether it be for work or leisure, requires a little bit of extra planning, but it is pretty easy to do! Over the past 4 years I have been to almost every state in the country, mostly by car and during these travels, I’ve found a lot of great ways to stay healthy while traveling. Hopefully these ideas will help you be successful and healthy during the upcoming holidays.
A Long Car Ride
If you are traveling a long distance by car, pack a cooler! Fill it with water bottles, fresh fruit and veggies, lunch meat, string cheese, nuts, pumpkin seeds, and spiced pumpkin bread bars (see yesterday’s post for a recipe).
Avoiding Airport Cuisine
If you’re traveling by plane, avoid that expensive food at the airport by throwing a few extra items in your carry on; nuts, graNOla (on Sunday’s post), jerky, fresh fruit, vegetables, Builder Bars (find them at Wal-Mart, Target, the grocery), and spiced pumpkin bread bars (I’m telling you, they’re good)! If you would like to bring along something that needs refrigerated, freeze it and take it out right before you head to the airport. It should be thawed by the time you’re ready for a snack!
If you’re staying in a hotel for an extended period of time or you stay in hotels often, get an electric skillet! You can pick up a small one that will fit in your bag (make sure you check it at the airport) and that is affordable. This may sound a little drastic, but it makes traveling so much less expensive and more healthy! My husband and I have used our skillet in almost every state from here to California! (And we’ve never burned down a hotel room)!
Eating out, as tempting as the unhealthy choices may be, there are LOTS of healthy options to choose from! Order your meat or protein and ask to substitute vegetables or coleslaw instead of french fries, rice, or pasta. I have yet to find a restaurant that doesn’t offer some kind of substitute for more starchy sides. Get a fruit cup instead of hashbrowns, pancakes, or toast for breakfast. Fast food? No problem. Get a salad or throw a bun away and eat an opened faced sandwich. Most places will let you buy their kids menu fruit option, just avoid the fries, soda, and as much bread as you can! I know the fries smell good, just resist the temptation and you’ll feel SO much better 50 miles down the road.
This wasn’t exactly a shining example of making a healthy choice while traveling, but I’m far from perfect. I decided to go for the dollar menu instead of a salad, this is 3 McDoubles combined into one. A total of 6 hamburger patties and 3 slices of cheese product crammed between 2 buns… somewhere in Montana….somewhere delicious.
When I am on vacation I love to stop for a coffee. I don’t drink much coffee while at home because I’m hyper enough as it is and it just makes me hungry, so it’s a ‘treat.’ My favorite drink used to be a venti cafe mocha…until I realized it had 410 calories and 54 grams of carbohydrates. (THAT explains my headaches)! Now I get a tall, regular latte without any flavoring and it only has 150 calories and 14 grams of carbohydrates…much easier on the body and no headache. Occasionally during the holiday I will ask for a half pump of pumpkin spice or gingerbread to sweeten it up a tad.
If you don’t know about the nutritional content of your favorite coffee shop beverage, you can find it at Starbucks.com or the site of your favorite coffee shop. If your local shop doesn’t have a site, you can probably find the same beverage at the Starbucks site and the content will be very similar. Most restaurants have the nutritional content of their food online now, so there is no reason not to know! Ignorance is NOT bliss when it comes to your food.
Although my husband says he doesn’t like to get his food where he gets his gas, I think there are a few exceptions. Most of the “food” at the gas station I would not qualify as food at all, but there are a few items that are okay in a pinch. Just as there are more healthy options at restaurants now, there is also an increasing amount of healthier options at ‘convenience stores.’ Many gas stations now carry hard-boiled eggs, string cheese, nuts, jerky, and fresh fruit at least, others will also carry pre-made salads and other healthier items. Be careful of the “nutrition bars” as most are so chalked full of sugar or artificial sweetener that you might as well be eating a Snickers. If you are going to go for one of these bars, I would suggest a Zone bar, or the Builder Bar. Is this perfectly Paleo? Far from it, but it’s not a bad option while you’re traveling. Instead of soda or paying for water, grab a cup from the fountain drinks and fill it with ice-water, usually they’ll only charge you a quarter or so for the cup. If you’re in need of some caffeine, go for unsweetened iced tea or coffee.
So there you have it, you can no longer use traveling as an excuse for eating junk! These are all tips I have gained from experience and that I use myself. It does require a little bit of discipline to take the bun off your burger and avoid buying cookies at the gas station, but you will feel better physically and mentally as a result. With a little preparation you can make the holidays a little more affordable and healthy! Happy trails to you!