Hitting the road? I’ve got some tips for eating healthy on vacation and business trips! It’s a piece of cake!
It’s time. The annual family vacation, seminar, corporate bonding session or meet-up with far away friends and family. Or maybe it’s just better than staying home. Whatever your reason for hitting the road, there’s no reason to break with your decision to eat wholesome foods!
Food For The Journey
Airport food is overpriced and never very good. It’s commonplace to spend $20+ on a bottle of water, a teeny-tiny bag of chips and a cold sandwich that was made who-knows-how-long-ago.
The good news? TSA allows a wide variety of food through the security checkpoint and onto the airplane. Meats, cheese, bread, crackers, nuts…basically anything that’s not a liquid or packed in liquid. One caveat: Some fresh fruits and vegetables are NOT allowed, depending on their point of origin.
As for that overpriced water? Bring an empty drinking container and fill it once you get past the checkpoint.
Hit the supermarket the day before to pick up a variety of healthy food. Road trips can be long and it makes us want to eat out of sheer boredom. Keep this in mind when choosing food. Come up with unusual or fun choices and let everyone in the car have a say on what they’d like to eat while on the road. If feasible, allow for some more expensive foods that may not be in your house on a regular basis, such as roast beef or exotic cheese. Don’t forget snacks that are easy to eat in the car such as grapes or nuts!
Stop for meals and some leg stretching in a park, when possible, instead of a rest area, where the sights and smells from fast-food stands and convenience stores might tempt you to eat junk.
If you find that you have to stop for food, skip the convenience store. Instead, choose a grocery store where there is a wider variety of healthy options.
At Your Destination
So you’ve arrived at your destination, checked in and unpacked your bags. Now it’s time to make a meal plan! The first thing you’re going to want to do is hit the supermarket (yes, again) because the easiest way to keep healthy while away from home is to continue to make your own meals as much as possible.
I know what you’re thinking. How are you going to make a healthy meal in a hotel room?
I’m going to assume you have a refrigerator in your room. Depending on how long your stay is (and how big the refrigerator is), you may be able to get all your food in one trip and not have to worry about it again!
I’m going to also assume that you have a microwave in your room. This is good news because microwaves are for more than cooking frozen entrees! You can cook a fresh bowl of oatmeal in less than 2 minutes. Throw some uncooked pasta in a bowl of water and microwave it for 5-8 minutes. Quesadillas, baked potatoes, nachos, scrambled eggs and bacon, steamed veggies, ground beef, rice, and corn on the cob. Etcetera. Etcetera. Etcetera.
Pick up frozen, fully cooked chicken breasts and a bag of salad greens to toss together with some oil and vinegar for a super-fast salad. Use the chicken that’s left to throw together some chicken salad.
How about a peanut butter and fresh strawberry sandwich?
Make some overnight oats before hitting the hay for a super quick breakfast the next morning. Mix up any remaining yogurt with some fresh fruit or berries for a refreshing snack. How about some guacamole boats or a hummus wrap?
At some point, you’re going to want to (or have to) leave your room. You know, to go to the theme park, business meeting, seminar or whatever brought you to town.
If you’re out for the day, pack a lunch. If you drove from home, you may have brought a cooler for the road trip. If you flew, you can purchase (or maybe you thought to pack) a collapsible insulated bag. Seal some hotel ice in a Ziploc bag and throw it in with your food to keep things cool.
If you’re in a meeting or at an event that includes a buffet-style lunch (or dinner), there are usually healthy options to choose from. If you think this will not be the case, feel free to bring your own lunch because, hey, it’s a free country, man. *flashes peace sign* If someone calls you out, you can cite health issues, which is absolutely true…you’re healthy and you want to stay that way.
Always keep some healthy snacks and drinks close at hand for combating between-meal hunger (and that pastry bar they always have at meetings!). Think trail mix, fresh fruit, peanut butter crackers or popcorn, which you can pop up fresh in a paper bag using your hotel microwave. You’re welcome.
Create a custom healthy drink by popping a teabag and/or a few slices of lemon, cucumber or strawberry into your water bottle.
Eating Clean When Eating Out
It’s bound to happen. Maybe it’s a meeting, maybe you’ve been outvoted, maybe you just want to have someone else cook for a change. Whatever the reason, here you are at what always seems to be your downfall — dining out.
Let me assure you that eating in a restaurant doesn’t have to be unhealthy.
The first thing you need to do is fix your mindset. Remember that vacations and business trips are not about the food. They are about taking in the sights, forging tighter bonds with people you know and connecting with people you don’t. It’s about having new experiences and learning new things. It’s all about the journey.
But you still have to order dinner.
Look for “naked” proteins that aren’t covered in sauces or cheese. The same goes for a veggie or potato side. This might be, for example, steak, broccoli and a baked potato. If you don’t see anything that fits the bill, ask your server if the kitchen can prepare something for you.
The salad bar is another great option for your veggie side or even for your whole meal. Stick with fresh veggies, fruits, and healthy proteins such as eggs and nuts/seeds. Skip the (probably premade) salad dressings and ask your server to bring you oil and vinegar to top it off.
For a more in-depth discussion about eating healthy in restaurants, check out my article on the subject!
Falling Off The (Whole Foods) Wagon
You were fine. Just fine. You were eating well, staying strong and feeling great but the moment you passed through the entrance to the fair, the smell of fried dough hit you. You fell off the wagon and you fell hard. You proceeded to eat your way through the entire fair, reeling from one concession sideshow to the next until you had hit them all. Now you’re feeling guilty, tired, cranky, bloated and more than a little nauseated.
Guess what? It happens to the best of us. Put it in your rear view and climb right back on that wagon!
Here are a few tips to help you feel better fast:
- Take a walk. A brisk walk will speed up your metabolism, which will help to empty your stomach and shed excess fluid. It’s also a mood booster, Win-win!
- Drink some water. A steady intake of water will help you lose the bloat, especially if you add a few slices of lemon, lime or cucumber. Coffee and green or hibiscus tea are also natural diuretics.
- Have a piece of candy. Sucking on peppermint or ginger candy will help alleviate the nausea associated with overeating.
- Get some sleep. A good night’s rest will leave you feeling strong, confident, energized and ready to get back on track!
Whatever you do, don’t follow through with the promise you made to yourself that you’re “never going to eat again”. Skipping meals will only lead to extreme hunger and another binge.
What are your hacks to survive traveling? Let me know in the comments below!
All my best,