A friend recently asked me for some advice on how to eat healthy while traveling. Her question came right at the same time as we were getting ready to leave for a week in Nashville and I was preparing to try to be healthy while not at home so that was fresh on my mind. Here are some tips and examples that might help you, especially during the holiday season.
The first tip I can give, no matter what type of traveling you are doing, is to try to plan ahead and prepare as much as you can. I try to either bring snacks and food already prepared, bring things that can easily be prepared wherever I’m going, or go to the grocery when I get there and buy some healthy things (all of this depends on where I’m going, the duration of the trip, etc.).
Here’s what I’ve done for this week: The “scenario” is that we are in Nashville for four days. Michael needs the car during the day so I’m staying at the hotel while he’s gone (I have a ton of grad school stuff to do so I wouldn’t have gotten a chance to leave anyway). We requested a microwave and fridge in our hotel room (having those gives you tons more options so it’s always a good idea to ask for them when you travel). I made and brought breakfast, lunch, and snacks that didn’t require tons of assembly once we got here.
For breakfast I made my quiche cups. I had planned on just having that for breakfast but at the last minute I noticed our milk would expire while we were gone so I grabbed a bottle and poured in some milk. I just warm up the quiche cups in the microwave, pour a cup of milk, and breakfast is served – easy peasy. I also use the milk for my coffee – I rarely drink coffee at home so it’s a nice treat to have it in the hotel room.
For lunch I (actually, Michael) made a batch of Mexican rice. I portioned it out into containers, washed grapes, and cut up a block of cheese (I LOVE slices of cheese!). I can just heat the rice in the microwave; that along with grapes and cheese is a yummy lunch.
For my snacks I brought oranges (already peeled so I didn’t have to worry about bringing a knife or making a huge mess), hardboiled eggs (again, already peeled), a random apple that I found in our fridge before we left, and some yogurt. Like I said, pre-planned, pre-prepared, pre-portioned, pre-packed, etc. is the key here.
Now I have all plenty of food for breakfast, lunch, and snacks and I don’t have to worry about eating junk for four straight days. We will go out to eat for supper every night and I’m meeting a friend for lunch one day but I don’t have to feel guilty since I’ve eaten healthy the majority of the time (and I can make healthy choices while eating out, too).
This is situation where we had a fridge and microwave and I wasn’t planning on leaving the hotel anyway – it would be different if I was going to be out and about shopping or sight-seeing every day. Take these ideas and adapt them to suit your traveling needs. If you plan to be out and about you can still bring your breakfast and some snacks (that can be carried in your purse) and then just eat out for lunch and supper. Eating some healthy meals is better than eating no healthy meals.
For example, when we were in Chattanooga we weren’t going to have a fridge or microwave in our room. We ended up with a fridge because they had to switch our rooms so we bought some bottled water and yogurt but since I didn’t know ahead of time I didn’t bring food like you see above. We bought some muffins from the deli at Walmart and I had one of those for breakfast – not really a healthy choice, but still better to just eat one than to go to a breakfast buffet. For lunch I walked to Panera or Qdoba, both places where I know of relatively healthy, low calorie meal choices. In situations like this you can still have healthy snacks on hand like fruit that doesn’t need to be refrigerated, granola bars, or healthy crackers.
You also can always bring a cooler of your own and just keep it filled with ice from the machine at the hotel. This is time consuming but it can be done. Every summer we used to go to Mexico on mission trips (driving, not flying). Some years I did better about bringing my own healthy stuff than others. One year in particular I remember bringing a cooler full of snacks and Michael, the sweetie that he is, made sure it was full of ice every day. It was quite a bit of work (mostly for him) but it helped me have healthy options. I don’t remember specifics since it’s been several years but I know I brought apples cut into slices with peanut butter in little containers for an apple with peanut butter snack. I think I also had some other little snacks like cheese, veggies with dip, and other fruits. I was able to have my own breakfast and snacks on the road and while in Mexico. I ate out (or what the ladies at the church there made) at lunch and dinner.
When I go somewhere like my parents, my in-laws, or on a retreat where I know there is a full kitchen that I have access to I bring my own food but don’t worry quite so much about preparing everything ahead of time. I can bring something like my turkey bacon and some eggs and cook them there. Or bring my own cereal and have that with the milk that’s already there. Fortunately both my parents and my in-laws usually have healthy options at their house that I can eat so I don’t have to bring much with me at all anymore. But, for example, when I went to stay with my grandparents for a week this summer I just went to the grocery when I got there, bought some of “my” food, and then cooked/prepared it in their kitchen.
Well this post ended up being much longer than I planned (have I mentioned before that I talk a lot?). I hope you read something here that will help you stick to being healthy even when you travel. Let me know if you have any more questions!