For those trying to hit or maintain a health goal, the idea of going on vacation can create anxiety. Particularly in American culture, vacation permits indulgence. Day drinking by the pool, overeating at the buffet, overspending at the shops -- whatever it is, we tend to overdo it.
The biggest culprit is often the inability to control what we put in our body. It sounds like an oxymoron since we literally control the hand that feeds us, but what I mean is that vacation can mean a lot of eating out. Since you aren’t in the kitchen cooking your meals, you aren’t totally in control of what you’re eating.
But it doesn't have to be this way! Vacation can be enjoyable and all the things without being a total departure from your health. Below, I share our top 6 ways to eat well while traveling.
6 ways to maintain your healthy eating habits while traveling.
1. Plan your travel meals
Most airports and airplanes have little to offer when it comes to healthy options. Airplane meals are often bland, processed, packaged and full of unhealthy fats, starches and sugar. There’s not a fresh ingredient in site. Your body already takes a toll when you travel, so eating well is key. Before I travel, I always make sure I have a stash of healthy snacks, like fruit and nuts, and I also try to pack one healthy meal, like a salad in a jar or sandwich in a reusable or disposable container (which comes in handy for other meals on the go!).
2. Choose healthy options
If you don’t have time to make something in advance, you can usually find healthy options at snack shops or vending machines at train stations and airports. My go-to’s are packaged nuts (avoid the trail mix versions with candy and dried fruit), plain yogurt and granola, and healthy granola bars (like BoBo bars).
3. Shop the local markets
One of the things I love the most about traveling is the food. In addition to dining out, I absolutely love exploring foreign outdoor markets or grocery stores. If there’s street food available, you can usually find me at the nearest stall. It’s such a window into other cultures and it also helps me get my fill of fruits and veggies! Regardless of where I’m staying, I can purchase and eat fruit just about anywhere. Supermarkets will often have prepared foods as well, where you can buy pre-made salads or other healthy options.
4. Diversify your meals
Instead of thinking about a balanced meal, think about a balanced day. If you’re looking forward to that gelato in the afternoon, begin your day with yogurt and fruit or eggs instead of a pastry. If you’re planning to have a bowl of pasta bolognese for dinner, maybe forgo the panino for lunch so you’re not overloading on carbs. It doesn’t have to be scientific but requires a little foresight.
5. Don’t overthink it
Vacation is meant to be enjoyed. Don’t ruin it by overthinking every little thing you put in your body or by beating yourself up when you had a “bad” day! Stress is worse than bad food. Listen to your body. If your body feels like it has had too much of something, lighten up the next day. Give your body what it needs.
For some of us, vacation tends to lead to a higher consumption of alcohol. Drinking lots of water, especially between alcoholic drinks, can help decrease the adverse effects (like hangovers!). Water also flushes the body of toxins and can help maintain your health while traveling. When you’re eating out, make sure to order water (some countries won’t automatically serve it), and always bring a big water bottle with you. If you’re traveling in a country where the tap water is safe to drink, you can always ask a restaurant to fill you up.