You bought the tickets, packed your bags and made a plan: “I’m going to practice eating healthy while traveling, workout, and stick to my goals.” And then when the day of the flight rolled in, you had the airplane’s sugar-loaded pancakes - with syrup- followed by a welcome drink at the hotel and by the end of the trip, your yoga mat never left the bag.
Many of us are kicking off our travel plans for the year - be it for work or play - and eating healthy while traveling is something that is well-intentioned, but often forgot.
I’ve been there. I get it.
The Problem: When you travel, it’s easy to fall off the nutrition-wagon
Eating healthy and sticking to a meal plan is much easier when you’re at home, in control of your meals, and carrying on with your regular schedule. Eating healthy while traveling? Well, that's a whole different beast.
There are too many nutrition traps!
Whether you’re going away for business, pleasure or to be with the family for the holidays, eating healthy while traveling is a challenge because of the environment.
In this case, it’s really is not you - it’s them.
Think about it: How many genuinely healthy options do you find at a regular or small airport? If you’re traveling internationally, you don’t know what you’ll get, and when you do have ‘options’ they’re mostly green-washed, high-sodium, sugar-rich ones.
Looking at you “power bar.”
In addition to that you don’t set yourself up for success: not only are you trying to pack more activities in a day than you usually would but also...
- Meeting with people who don’t have the same health and nutrition goals than you do
- Upending your sleep-wake schedule
- Exposing yourself to more tempting alcohol and foods than ever
If you add to that the fact that you’re tired and want to relax, it’s easy to see why we all have such a hard time staying on track.
Want to hack eating healthy while traveling?
The good news: it doesn’t have to be hard. The better news? It’s easy-peasy and I have about 20 hacks for eating healthy while traveling that will ensure you never have to struggle again - if you practice them ;)
20 POWER Hacks for Eating Healthy While Traveling
First, learn what POWER stands for: Prepare - Optimize - Write - Ease - Repeat!
1. Avoid Booking Flights With Meals
If you can don't book a flight during lunch/dinner/breakfast time - it's harder to resist once you are already on the plane and only have one option.
2. Pre-Order Plant Based Flight Meals
If you can’t avoid a plane-meal (or more), then try to pre-order your flight meals and if possible choose the vegan or vegetarian one - even if you’re a meat eater!
Why? Vegetarian or vegan meals on planes slightly healthier than the regular counterpart, and if you skip dressing, butter, and eat half the nuts, you’ll have more control of the calories and nutrients.
Still, I avoid airplane food and make sure I’m eating healthy while traveling by focusing on nutrients more than calories.
3. Pack Your Own Meals (and Avoid Unhealthy Food Altogether)
You might get lucky and find a one-day-old celery and carrot stick container, but next to that all-spice bagel, it won’t look so good.
Avoid all the sugar, gluten, sodium and carb traps during your trip preparing meals that can easily make it through security and won’t spill all over your bag.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables: apples, pears, grapes, and even avocados! Pre-cut them and carry in a small see-through container, not over 3.4 OZ. Don’t want the apple browning? Get a TSA-approved set of bamboo utensils like these.
- Unsalted Nuts: a great source of healthy fats, great for breakfast or a snack, but without the high price and sodium tax of the airport ones.
- Edamame Bites: roasted or lightly salted, packed with protein and satisfying.
- Overnight Oats: for earlier or mid-day trips, prep them before you go and add your nutrition favorites.
- Veg and Dip in a Jar: in a 3 OZ or less container load up some fresh cut vegetables (carrots, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, olives, celery sticks,) and a healthy dip like classic hummus. To be extra safe you can bring the dip separately.
4. Create a Nutrition-Meal Schedule:
Control your meals and make sure you’re eating healthy while traveling deciding on two meals per day in advance for the duration of your trip.
Here’s how you do it:
- Figure out the ‘unavoidables’: meals where you know you can be in little to no control of the preparation - holiday meals, restaurant dates, dinner parties
- Mark the ‘unavoidables’ in your calendar and see if you can find a healthy option for that day: check the menu, propose a healthier restaurant, or see if you can bring a dish of your own to complete your meal as a guest
- Color code the other two meals “green” for that day. When you look at your calendar, you’ll know which days to be extra careful
Eating healthy while traveling is easy when you have visual aids and a clear idea of what’s coming ahead of time.
5. BYOP - Bring Your Own Protein
You can take this light complete protein pack in your checked or carry-on bag, and add two scoops to any juice, or plain water, to turn a quick drink into a nutritious meal replacement that covers your needs for the day - any day!
Pro Tip: A protein-based meal replacement is a much better choice than empty carbs on a fly-day (especially if your goal is eating healthy while traveling), just put the powder in your blender bottle and add the water once you are through customs!
6. Juice Without the Blender!
Even if you’re carrying your veggies and dip, you won’t get all the vitamins and minerals that you need. Optimize your nutrition intake with our super convenient Green Juice Go Packs: 30 grams of superfoods in tiny containers that fit any pocket or bag, simply add water and enjoy!
7. Make Healthy Snacks 1/4 of Your Bag
Flight delays, weather storms, sheer bad luck - anything can happen when you’re traveling! Reserve the top 1/4th of the smaller bag (that you’ll keep on you at all times) to pack more snacks than you think you’ll need.
If you stay ahead of the hunger curve by having a healthy bite every three to four hours, you’ll avoid that impulse sugar-fest-latte and donut - and you'll ensure you are eating healthy while traveling.
- Seaweed Crisps: you can buy them or, premake them at home with this recipe from Dora Daily. Only 15 mins!
- Baked apple chips: also available at your favorite organic store, or homemade with this sugar-free apple crisp recipe by Well Plated. Pop them in the oven while you pack! Great for kids!
- Homemade Protein Bars: better than the sugar-filled ones you find at the store, these no-bake protein bars will keep you satisfied until you get a proper meal. We recommend using a plant-based complete protein that won’t be hard on digestion while you travel. Replace honey with maple syrup to lower the sugar content.
8. Pack a Reusable Water Bottle
Fill after you go through customs and use to hydrate yourself with water, it’s kinder to the environment and will help you steer clear of tempting bottled tea, sodas, and other “healthy” drinks.
9. Don't Wear Yourself Out
When you’re tired, you are more likely to be hungry and crave sugary snacks, optimize your travel time making sure you pack a day early, including snacks. Try to leave the day before your journey to talk, relax and enjoy and not to do stressful last-minute packing.
Eating healthy while traveling can be easily supported with activities: try to walk to attractions and do nature sightseeing early in the day. This will help you eat better and wind down easily. Support your rest with Organifi Gold or milk tea.
10. Optimize Meals with Veggies
Even if you’re eating out at a restaurant, heading to a barbeque, getting take-out, or gorging on holiday family favorites, commit to making 50% of your plate vegetables. An easy way to hack eating healthy while traveling is to order a side dish of steamed veggies or spinach; most places have them!
11. Use Google Places
Map out a list of places with yummy food that also happens to be healthy using Google Maps and Save them as “Want to Go,” if you’re traveling abroad make sure you download the map before you go so you can use it offline. You can also create a custom map.
Technology makes eating healthy while traveling accessible for all!
12. Cook and Save
You might not want to cook while you’re away, especially if you’re staying with relatives whose loving intentions are to make you as round as a snowman during the holidays, but you might be able to save money, time and tears (maybe?) if you stay at a place with kitchen access.
Cooking some of your meals, especially on the green days from tip #4, will help you achieve nutrition and weight goals with much more ease.
13. Make a List of Your Health Goals
These are all about accountability. Use a sticky note on your planner, a note in your phone, or a calendar reminder that repeats every day, with your health goals and the reasons why you want to get there. Eating healthy while traveling is easier when you are constantly reminded of why you want it in the first place.
14. Send Friends and Relatives a Text or Email
Let people know in advance that you’re on a health and wellness journey and you appreciate their support during your trip. Share it as big news you’re excited about and ask people to join you on a healthy adventure: a trip to a famous organic store, juice bar or restaurant.
This way people will know what to expect with you and also see it as a fun opportunity to try something new.
Don’t know how to say it? Try this cheat sheet:
“Hi, Jane/John! I’m so excited to see everyone so soon! I’m on a wellness journey, and I’ve been doing so great! No sugar, alcohol or useless white carbs for a month (although I still have the occasional pizza), I just heard about this great new place XYZ - wanna come?
I’m really proud of myself and I’d love to try this place with you. I probably won’t be indulging as much this trip, but I’m pumped to see everyone and have a great time!”
The key is to let people know your intentions for eating healthy while traveling or visiting and to make it sound like the positive thing it is!
15. Keep Track of Your Macro and Micronutrients
If you’re eating healthy while traveling, your focus should be not on the number of salads, but the quality of the nutrients. Use an app like MyFitnessPal to keep track of nutrients - NOT calories.
16. Take it Easy
Relax and enjoy being in the moment, these tools are here to prepare you and avoid nutrition traps but remember your emotional state plays a big role in your health. Stressing out over eating healthy while traveling is just as bad as breaking the diet, don’t overdo cortisol and chill.
17. Ease Into It
You don’t have to try all of these eating healthy while traveling hacks at the same time, pick five to start with and go with it. My go-to hack is the green juice packs as the easiest way to support my health on the go.
18. Be Kind to Yourself
The person you’ll talk to the most in your life is yourself if you forgot to pack a snack, caved to your mom’s best holiday pie, or had some airport fries - be nice! Eating healthy while traveling is not worth negative self-talk.
19. Do What Works For You
Eating healthy while traveling comes down to the same techniques that keep you on track at home: finding something that meets your lifestyle. Do what works for you over and over, during the trip and off.
20. Get Back On The Horse
If you fall off the horse, just get back on it. Don’t go down the guilt road, just pick one healthy thing to do, and go for it. It could be as simple as water-only hydration for a day.
Ready to conquer this eating healthy while traveling thing? I know I am. Go out there, enjoy and succeed.
We’re in this together,