As exhilarating as traveling can be, it is easy to get so wrapped up in the planning and exploration of a new destination that you forget about taking care of your health. In fact, most of us even take traveling as an opportunity to indulge in unhealthy snacks and fast foods, which can take a toll on your health in the long run.
Eating unhealthy while traveling can lower your energy levels and disrupt the balance in your gut microbiome, leaving you feeling drained and overwhelmed. Fortunately, it is not impossible to eat healthy food while traveling.
In this article, we'll share some tips to help you stay on track with your health goals while enjoying the wonders of travel.
Traveling and Unhealthy Eating: At a Glance
Before we get into how to eat healthy while traveling, let's look at some of the common unhealthy eating habits most people fall into when they're on a trip.
Most of us are creatures of habit, and when it comes to food, we tend to stick to what's comfortable. However, traveling can often take us out of our comfort zones and make it hard to maintain a healthy diet, as we are exposed to new cuisines and food items that may not be the healthiest for us.
Frequent travelers often fall prey to unhealthy eating habits such as skipping meals, choosing fast-food restaurants to eat, opting for packed snacks, relying on processed food or sugary snacks, and overindulging in alcoholic beverages.
Statistics show that 1 in 3 American adults (that's 85 million people!) consume fast food at any given time. With such a sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits, it is no wonder why cardiovascular diseases are one of the leading causes of death in the United States.
That's not it! A whopping 44% of frequent business travelers reported being more likely to eat unhealthy food while away from home.
So, how do you stay healthy while traveling? Read on to find out!
Tips to Eat Healthy While Traveling
We all know that eating healthy is key to a happy and balanced lifestyle, but it can be tough to stick to our normal routines when we're away from home. Here are some healthy habits and tips to help you stay on track with your health goals while travelling:
Bring Your Own Healthy Snacks
Bringing your own healthy snacks is one of the best ways to stay on track with your health goals while travelling. Not only does it help you save money, but it also means that you can avoid fast food options.
When you pack your snacks, make sure to choose items that are high in protein, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Nuts, seeds, and nut spreads are great options as they provide plenty of nutrition and are easy to carry around. For a sweet treat, try dried fruits such as dates or apricots.
You can also opt for healthy food options that are easily available in every local grocery store like protein bars and energy balls made with nuts and seeds. These provide lots of energy to keep you going throughout the day! If you're looking for something more substantial, whole grain sandwiches with lean proteins such as hard-boiled eggs, chicken or tuna are a great option for a nutritious breakfast.
Maintain a Normal Eating Schedule
When you're away from home, it's easy to lose track of time and your normal eating schedule. Traveling can also disrupt your sleep pattern, which in turn can throw off your entire routine.
To ensure that you stick to a normal eating schedule while traveling, try to stick as closely as possible to the same meal times as you do at home. It's also important to have regular breaks in between activities, as this allows your body time to digest and process the food.
If possible, try to avoid eating late at night before bedtime. Eating too close to bedtime can leave you feeling bloated and tired, which is not a great combination when travelling!
Choose Healthy Foods at Restaurants
You don't have to give up all of your healthy eating habits just because you're not at home. Eating out can be a great way to sample the local cuisine, but it doesn't mean that you have to forget about your health goals.
When dining out, try to choose dishes made with fresh ingredients and prepared without too much oil or butter. If you're not sure what to order, ask the waiter for recommendations or look up reviews online.
You can also opt for healthier options such as vegetable-based dishes, salads, and lean proteins such as chicken or fish. If you're looking for dessert, opt for fresh fruit instead of ice cream or cake.
Staying hydrated is key to staying healthy while traveling. Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day and avoid sugary drinks like sodas and juices that are high in sugar and calories.
It's also important to stay away from alcoholic drinks, as these can dehydrate your body and make you feel sluggish the next day. If you must have an alcoholic beverage, opt for a light beer or one glass of wine with your meal.
Having a reusable water bottle with you at all times is a great way to stay hydrated while traveling. When it comes to choosing water bottle material, opt for stainless steel or glass, as these are free from harmful chemicals and won't leach into the water.
Cook for Yourself if Possible
If you're staying in a hotel, hostel, or Airbnb, you may have access to basic cooking facilities such as a kitchenette. If this is the case, try to cook at least some of your meals yourself so that you can be sure of what ingredients are used.
Cooking for yourself also gives you control over portion sizes, which is important if you're trying to lose or maintain your weight. It's also a great way to save money since eating out can get expensive!
To make cooking easier, try to plan ahead and decide what meals you're going to make in advance. This will help you figure out what ingredients and equipment you need to buy. Some simple healthy meals you can cook include omelets, stir-fries, sandwiches, and salads.
Opt for Local Street Food Over Franchise Chains
Let's be honest, eating carrots and hummus for every meal isn't going to be much fun! Fortunately, when traveling, you don't have to limit yourself to healthy options all the time. But if you decide to treat yourself to some fast food, don't just opt for the first McDonald's or Pizza Hut you see.
Instead, try out some of the local street food stalls to get a real taste of the culture. This can be a great way to sample the local cuisine without compromising your health goals. Just be sure to look out for cleanliness and check that any meat is cooked properly.
Local street food can also be a great option if you're on a tight budget. Street food is usually much cheaper than eating at restaurants and can be just as tasty too!
The Bottom Line
Whether you're on a cruise or roaming the streets of Bangkok, it is possible to eat healthy while traveling. All it takes is a bit of planning and being mindful of what you're eating. So don't be discouraged, with a few simple tips, you can still stick to your health goals even when on vacation!