Whether traveling for work, pleasure or any other reason, many people find it challenging to maintain a healthy diet during the journey. However, certain practices can make doing so much easier. There are several ways for you to plan ahead, certain mistakes to avoid, and strategies and tips that will keep your diet healthy during your travels.
Here are four top tips for success in eating healthy without cooking:
Plan Ahead by Packing Perishable or Nonperishable Foods
With proper planning, you can prepare to eat healthy while traveling before you even leave. Packing both perishable and non-perishable foods can be helpful. This way, you can maintain some control over the foods available to you. According to Kenya McCullum's writeup on healthy traveling, packable perishable foods include hard-boiled eggs, fresh fruits, cheese sticks, and vegetables. The vegetables can even be cut up ahead of time. Meanwhile, fruits with peels, like bananas, are particularly portable and convenient. Additionally, to keep perishable foods in good shape, lightweight containers are very useful.
Nonperishable options often include beef jerky, popcorn, pretzels, trail mix, and seeds or nuts, per McCullum. You can easily divide all of these into smaller packages, or buy them in ready-to-go single-serving portions. By packing items like these, you'll be less at the mercy of the offerings of vending machines, airport kiosks, and the like.
If you're flying, travel blogger Jackie Nourse has this suggestion: Try to avoid packing all of your snacks in your carry-on bag. By packing some of them in your checked luggage, you'll avoid eating all of your supplies during the flight.
Common Meal Mistakes While Traveling
There are many common mistakes that can sneak up on even seasoned travelers, torpedoing their efforts to eat healthily while venturing. Slipping up or indulging occasionally isn't the end of the world, but doing too much of the following throughout a trip can seriously hamper your efforts:
● Eating oversized portions. In particular, restaurants that serve giant meals can be a problem when traveling. To counteract this, one newsletter from Harvard Health Publishing recommends training your eye by measuring servings of food beforehand. That way, you'll have a better idea of what a reasonable amount of food looks like. If you're served a supersized portion, don't be afraid to ask for a box so that you can eat the meal in installments.
● Not drinking enough water. Water, according to Medical News Today, is essential for managing hunger cues. A glass of water can even be helpful for fighting food cravings while you're on the road. Water can help promote a sense of fullness in the stomach, and sometimes people believe they are hungry when in reality they are thirsty. Before you reach for food, try downing some water.
● Excessive alcohol consumption. Especially if you're traveling for fun, it may be tempting to drink more than you normally would. However, alcohol can put a serious dent in your healthy eating strategy. Alcohol dehydrates the body and is also a calorie bomb.
● Giving in to social pressure. If they pressure you to indulge, even well-meaning friends and family members can make it more difficult to eat healthily. Some helpful tactics, according to CarePoint Health, are to take the time to assess your options and to visualize the outcome of successful choices on your part.
Tips and Strategies
Avoiding the aforementioned mistakes can go a long way, but you can also employ some proactive tips and strategies to eat healthy while traveling. These include:
● Read labels. Labels can provide valuable nutritional information and help you determine serving sizes. At restaurants, menus with calorie counts can give you information that is useful for the avoidance of overeating.
● Get some protein at every meal. Protein helps promote satiety and can keep your energy levels up. One dietician quoted by HuffPost recommends shooting for 10 to 25 grams of protein per meal. Snacks such as beef jerky can also be a valuable protein source.
● Bring water. Keeping a water supply with you makes it much easier to stay hydrated and avoid false hunger cues. Collapsible water bottles can be a great help here without taking up too much room in your luggage.
● Go easy on caffeine. Small to moderate amounts of caffeine are usually fine, especially if consumed early enough in the day to avoid insomnia. However, according to one study cited by LiveStrong, too much coffee may increase fat storage and insulin resistance.
● Stay away from empty calories. One way to do this is by sticking to the advice of keeping alcohol consumption low. Healthline's Ashley Marcin also points to the following foods and drinks as laden with empty calories: packaged treats like cakes and donuts, soda and sports drinks, many types of fast food.
● Plan your meals. This may seem like a challenge while traveling, but it is certainly doable. Packing meals ahead of time is a boon. If possible, research restaurants you plan to visit in the area you're venturing to. Knowing what's on the menu ahead of time can help you make informed choices when it's time to order. You can even do a bit of planning if you find yourself at a buffet, according to EatRight.org: Rather than grabbing a plate and diving in right away, try doing a lap around the buffet first so that you can scope out your healthier choices.
No matter where you're headed next, using these tips can help you maintain a well-rounded diet on your trip. To be extra prepared, consider keeping healthy foods, drinks, and condiments on hand at home so that it's easier to pre-plan, and pack your meals ahead of time.