Whether on the road for work or enjoying a relaxing vacation, when we travel, making healthy choices can be a REAL challenge. If you plan ahead, you can avoid falling into the vicious cycle of overindulging on a trip only to come home feeling bloated and with "food hangover" regret. Here are my top tips for making healthy choices while traveling.
#1 - Planning is Key
The absolute #1 way to make better choices when on the road is to plan ahead of time. Know where you are going to eat. Know when you are going to eat. Know what you are going to eat. If the decision is already made, then you are more likely to stick to a better choice and not order those chili cheese fries. 😳
#2 - Take Your Own Food and Snacks
Often times when I travel, especially to places where I know food choices may be limited (here's looking at you Holiday gatherings) I will bring my own food with me. If I go to visit family that lives in a smaller town where groceries are limited, then you better believe I've bringing as much as I can to stick to my normal routine. If I keep healthy snacks in my purse, I won't get chips or candy at the gas station or airport. If I am driving and can pack a cooler, then I will. I'll even pack my portable NutriBullet blender to make smoothies on the road. Often times I'll haul oats, organic produce, raw nuts, almond milk, and even organic, free-range meat. I got so tired of eating unhealthy options when I was away, only to return home feeling sick, bloated, and several pounds up.
#3 - Hit Up a Grocery Store Instead
If you are flying and can't bring a lot of your own food, then hit up a grocery store when you get to your destination. I especially love exploring markets in other countries. It's amazing to see how each is a little different. But no matter where you are, you will absolutely get a wider variety of healthier options from a grocery store than you will at most restaurants.
#4 - Opt for a Condo or AirB&B instead of a Hotel
If you can, choose to live like a local and stay and a condo or AirBNB instead of at a hotel. You'll be more immersed in the local culture, and you can take advantage of having a kitchen and cook some during your stay. You can make healthier options and control the amount of fat, sugar and quality of ingredients. You can even save a little money from not eating as many meals out.
#5 - Research Restaurants Online for Nutritional Information and Menus
If you are going out to eat, try to look up the menu online. Many restaurants have this posted on their website or social media, and often times there may be nutritional information listed as well, especially if it is a larger chain. I personally try to stick to restaurants that offer local, fresh, seasonal ingredients. A quick Google search of the area can help you discover healthy candidates.
When selecting what to eat, try to avoid any menu items described as "crispy," "fried," "pan-fried" or "creamy." Choose options with descriptions like "steamed," "baked" or "grilled" instead. Even salads can be loaded with a ton of fat and calories depending on the toppings. Ask for your dressings on the side, and if the salad contains ingredients like cheese, croutons, or nuts, be very aware of your portions.
And speaking of portions, another trick for managing restaurants over-sized dishes would be to ask your server to box up half the meal before it's brought out, so you can then take that with you if you have a refrigerator at your hotel. You won't overindulge at that sitting, and then you will also have a meal for later. It's easier on your wallet as well as your waistline.
When choosing and entree, go with a lean protein with lots of fruits and veggies for sides. Skip bread or chip baskets, as well as dessert. IF you do decide to indulge, just pick ONE... choose either an appetizer, a glass of wine, or a dessert as your treat. Don't imbibe in all three.
Having a PLAN AHEAD of time and sticking to it is the BEST way to keep yourself from overindulging too much while traveling. Life is all about balance, and if you are on vacation, I am the first to say you should live a little, and indulge a little! But the key is to keep it at a little, and not go all out. It's so much easier to stick to your health and fitness plan when you splurge in moderation and keeping to the middle, instead of swinging like a pendulum from one extreme (all out indulging while on vacation) to the other (super restrictions when you get home). Keep these tips in mind to help make healthy choices the next time you are traveling.