This week, you and I will go on a little bit of a time travel, back to last year and bring back a very valuable post. Enjoy!
It’s summer, it’s vacation time (hopefully) which means (again, hopefully) traveling. But staying healthy while in transit is not always easy.
You know exactly what it’s like – you get to the airport, need to eat and there is nothing that suits you and your healthy lifestyle.
*sigh* Que: deep breaths mixed with hunger frustration. Godfrickingdamnit.
Do you have to throw all your efforts away and give in to the powerful fast food calling?
In a word: o’course not.
Granted, it is a lot more difficult than just grabbing the first thing you see. And it may require planning ahead a bit more than before. But it’s definitely not impossible!
Here is my Ultimate Guide to Staying Healthy While Traveling:
Challenge #1 – At the airport
Every fast food joint seems to be screaming your name when you walk past. First off, well done for not giving in and walking away!
If this is not an option (we both know there are less equipped airports out there), go in and try your best to stay away from the super duper size extra meal with extra this and that.
Instead, choose the one thing on the menu that has the most vegetables. Nope, the vegetarian burger does not count. Is it a salad? Great! Ask if they can add on some grilled chicken or a burger (just the meat though!). Also ask if you can have the dressing on the side, or if they have olive oil instead. Ask for water to drink, air travel dehydrates you anyway, so it’s best to stock up already before.
While this isn’t your ideal meal, it’s so much better than scoffing down a burger with fries and a coke.
Your other option is to take a food with you. Choose snacks that are easy to transport and nutrient-dense so you don’t need much of it to fill you up.
Suggestions include nuts, vegetable sticks, cheese cubes, avocado slices, fresh coconut slices, fruit bars, and hard-boiled eggs. Apples and bananas are usually easy to find (and make a great snack when paired with a packet of nut butter, available in most health stores) All things that are easy to eat without utensils.
You can also make homemade granola bars made with a little honey and filled with dried fruits and nuts, if you’re feeling creative.
Challenge #2: On the road
Wow, this one is certainly not easy.
Gas stations are among the most challenging places to stay healthy. You’re tired from sitting in the car for so long and really happy to get a leg stretcher.
At the same time, there is a cascade of unhealthy snacks and meals, all wanting to jump straight in your mouth.
Stop, take a second here. Are you sure you’re not just tired and bored to tears of watching kilometer after kilometer of concrete swish by you? If so, grab a bottle of water and go outside for a 5 minute walk.
If you really are hungry (as in, it’s your mealtime and you have to eat), consider your options first. What dish could you eat the most of? Leave the rest. Can they make you a special dish combined with things from a bunch of dishes? Very kind and open minded of them, and you’ll benefit greatly as well. If you’re at a gas station, choose protein-filled snacks, such as sunflower seeds, nuts, as well as fruit and nut bars, dark (85%) chocolate, or a banana.
Also: Investing in a small cooler will significantly reduce your chances of giving in to the drive-through cravings. You can fill it with your own favorites (perhaps some if them mentioned above?), including water bottles to keep hydrated.
In any on the go setting, a sandwich might be a suitable option. Don’t stop reading just yet. If you feel like making a sandwich to take along, choose whole-grain bread (or do like i do: wrap it all up in a lettuce leaf or between larger bits of bell pepper to avoid grains.) Look for sandwich meats that are free of nitrates and preservatives, add some lettuce and sliced avocado (yummy, and a super healthy fat source, in comparison to mayonnaise, for example). Make sure you layer any condiments you might enjoy (pickles, mustard, tomatoes…) between the meat slices so the bread, or lettuce wrap, doesn’t get soggy.
Challenge #3: Restaurants
Eating well at restaurants can be tricky. But again, not impossible. (How do you think people with food allergies or other medical reasons do it?!)
Anyway, of course you want to indulge on vacation. And believe me, you should indulge.
But, remember that indulging at every meal will make it harder to get back into your healthy routine when you get back home. An idea is to choose one meal a day, or every two days, as a guilt free indulgence. Please, do skip the breadbasket so you’re not filling up on empty calories before the meal though!
Anything that is grilled, broiled, steamed, roasted, baked or poached is a great choice. Dare to ask for vegetables instead of whatever starchy side they have originally paired your food with. Or, order a salad with olive oil and fresh lemon juice and eat that before your starchy part of the meal.
Challenge #4: Hotel breakfasts
Holy guacamole, I do love me some hotel breakfast! It might just be the best thing in the world.
That doesn’t mean you need to be rolling out of there, fueled up on sugar, bad fats and feeling crappy (if only to get your money’s worth!)
Although hotel breakfasts tend to offer a lot of high sugar, high carb foods that aren’t necessarily associated with healthy eating (pancakes, French toast, waffles, processed cereals etc), there is one ingenious point.
Because it’s a buffet, you have the choice of what to eat. I know, it’s a fantastic opportunity to test your willpower, but try to choose more protein, such as eggs and add veggies to your omelet if you can, vegetables, nuts, fruit, yoghurt… To go for the cheese section is still better than to go for the sugar and starch.
And, most importantly, ENJOY having someone else make you breakfast for once.
For the serious health nuts (although self-proclaimed such, I don’t do this): you can pack your own individual oatmeal breakfasts in small plastic bags. Add rolled oats, cacao nibs, shredded coconut, dried cherries, and almonds. Pour the mixture into a bowl covered with water or coconut milk the night before, store it in the fridge and your breakfast will be waiting for you in the morning.
To summarize this long post, here are 3 main points:
1. Fill up on protein to cut down on the temptation of fast food.
2. Do your best, but don’t feel guilty if you don’t succeed all the time. It’s near to impossible.
3, Sometimes you need to prepare in advance to keep at your healthy lifestyle. But remember its totally worth it. Do you remember how you felt when you were still eating all that crap?
It’s also important to allow yourself a splurge every now and then. And: don’t isolate yourself from being with friends and family because you fear there won’t be healthy options. There is usually something on every menu that you can make into a healthy meal. Just see above! 🙂
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