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Eating healthy while traveling is important for several reasons. A balanced and nutritious diet can help maintain good health and prevent illnesses. Especially when you are exposed to new environments, different foods, and changes in routine. It can also help you feel more energized, focused, and refreshed during your travels. This will allow you to fully enjoy and experience new destinations. Eating healthy can also be a way to immerse yourself in local cultures, as you explore and discover traditional dishes.
Finding healthy options while traveling can be challenging. This is especially true if you have food sensitivities or on a tight schedule. Many restaurants and fast-food chains offer high-calorie, high-fat, and high-sugar options. These may be tempting but are unhealthy. Traveling often involves long periods of sitting and limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables. From my experience, these lead to digestive issues such as bloating and constipation. These things impact my mood, sleep quality, and general level of satisfaction about my body.
Other challenges associated with finding healthy options include language barriers, limited availability of vegetarian or vegan options, and the higher cost of organic or locally sourced foods. Despite these challenges, with some preparation, research, and mindful choices, it is possible to maintain a healthy diet while on the road.
Here are some tips for eating healthy while traveling.
1. Plan Ahead.
Researching restaurants and grocery stores in the area before you travel can help you identify healthy options. It helps you avoid impulsive decisions that lead to unhealthy meals. Spend some time looking up online reviews and menus, asking for recommendations from friends or locals, or using apps that provide information on healthy food options.
If you have space in your carry-on, plan to bring some snacks and even meal options with you. Packing healthy snacks like nuts, seeds, and fruit, as well as a refillable water bottle, can help you avoid unhealthy snacks and stay hydrated on the go. You can also bring all the dry ingredients to make a healthy oatmeal. Then find a coffee shop to get a large cup of hot water. Add your oats mixture to your water, stir, and let it sit for a minute before eating.
Another option for bringing meals would be to pack a couple of healthy freeze-dried backpacking meals. These items used to be highly processed and full of sodium and inflammatory ingredients. But some companies have figured out much healthier versions. Companies like Peak Refuel and WildZora have great “just add water” meal options that taste great and are nutritious.
Planning ahead can also involve creating a list of healthy options and meal plans. Also, bring along any necessary cooking utensils or equipment if you are bringing your own meals.
2. Pack Whole-Food Snacks.
Bring healthy snacks like nuts, seeds, fruit, and protein bars with you on your travels. These can help you avoid unhealthy snacks and keep your energy levels up.
You can also bring convenient packets of powders for an instant nutrition and immune system boost. Many companies offer stick packs of greens or protein options that you just add to water or non-dairy milk.
Here are some of my favorite snacks to bring with me when traveling:
3. Stay Hydrated.
Bring a refillable water bottle with you, and make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Not only is this option more eco-friendly than buying plastic bottles, but it saves you money and sets you up for success. You can find drinking fountains almost everywhere. Staying hydrated can help you feel fuller and reduce the temptation to snack on unhealthy foods.
Boost your hydration by adding a source of electrolytes from coconut water or a packet of powder. My favorite electrolyte powders to bring with me when I travel are Liquid IV Hydration Multiplier and HigherDOSE High-dration Powder.
4. Choose Foods Wisely.
This is also where your research and planning ahead efforts will come in handy. When dining out, look for menu items that are grilled, roasted, or baked instead of fried. Opt for unprocessed proteins, whole grains, and lots (and lots) of vegetables.
Avoiding heavy sauces, dressings, and sugary drinks can also reduce the calorie and sugar intake. Checking the ingredient list and nutritional information can be helpful in making informed decisions. Be mindful of portion sizes to prevent overeating and unwanted weight gain. By choosing wisely, you can indulge in the local cuisine without compromising on your health goals.
5. Stay Mindful.
Pay attention to your body’s hunger and fullness cues, and eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. If you brought snacks with you, this will help ensure that you’re listening to your body.
Staying present and mindful can be challenging when traveling. It can be tempting to indulge in unhealthy foods or overeat out of boredom or stress. It can be helpful to take a moment to pause and breathe before eating, and to savor each bite, taking note of the flavors, textures, and smells. By being mindful, you can enjoy the local cuisine while still making healthy choices, helping you maintain your energy levels and feel your best while traveling.
6. Consider Fasting on your Travel Days.
Fasting can be a healthy option while traveling for several reasons. Firstly, fasting can help reset your digestive system and allow your body to rest and heal. This can be particularly beneficial when traveling, as it can reduce the risk of digestive issues that can be caused by changes in diet, sleep patterns, and time zones. Additionally, fasting can help improve mental clarity and focus, which can be useful when navigating new environments and making important travel decisions.
Fasting can also be a way to save time and money, as it eliminates the need to constantly search for healthy food options or wait in long restaurant lines. Fasting is not a good option for everyone, though. It should always be done with caution and under the guidance of a healthcare professional. I would also avoid trying it out for the first time when you’re traveling. This option would be good to consider for those who have fasted before and find benefit from it when they aren’t traveling.
Eating healthy while traveling can be challenging but preparation is a key to success. It is possible to maintain a nutritious diet and stay energized and healthy on the road. Planning ahead and choosing foods wisely can help avoid impulsive, unhealthy choices.
Additionally, fasting can be a healthy option for some travelers that have experience with it. By prioritizing your health and making intentional choices about what you eat, you can fully enjoy and experience new destinations, while feeling your best throughout your travels.