I am traveling more and more these days and I love it! But it is a challenge to maintain the same healthy eating patterns (and exercise) when I am traveling.
Recently, I was lucky enough to speak with Kim McDevitt, MPH, RD who works at Vega as a National Educator. Kim shared with me easy and practical tips that will keep your healthy habits on track during your travels.
View from my room - recent trip to Miami
What are the top tips for eating healthy while travelling?
It can be tricky (and tempting!) to stick to your normal eating routine and daily dietary habits when traveling. The first thing to remember is to stay hydrated and reach for water wherever you go! It's super easy to forget to drink water while we're rushing to our destination not to mention the dry airplane air that you'll find if you're flying.
Water helps everything run smoothly in our body and is especially important for when you're away from home. I also never leave home without some "emergency" snacks. You never know what might happen or what your choices will be (airport delay, traffic, etc.) so I love to have a piece of fruit, some raw nuts and seeds, a nut butter packet and/or a bar in my bag that I can reach for at any time.
Finally, when arriving at your destination do a quick Google search or ask at your hotel for restaurants, smoothie bars, coffee shops and more that are specific to what you're looking for. I personally love asking for some good local spots, which usually offer fresh and local ingredients and food that might be particular to the place you're visiting.
What can you do if you have dietary restrictions?
If you avoid ingredients such as dairy, gluten or soy, you likely already know to plan ahead! Despite more and more food options being free from these ingredients skip the stress of spending time in the airport, at rest stops, etc. hunting and gathering for foods that fit your requirements.
Instead, pack your own! It's so easy to take 5 minutes (probably less) to toss an apple or banana into your bag and to grab a few bars that you know are both good and work for you.
Can you ask for room service with modified meals?
Whether you're eating in your room (getting room service) or you're out at a restaurant I am a big believer that you should never be embarrassed or ashamed to ask for modifications to your order.
Of course if you're not at a specialized restaurant it is possible they may not be able to accommodate your every request (do some research before you head out the door if you know you've got some non-negotiable restrictions) but more times than not they should be able to accommodate your request.
Is it a good idea to email the hotel before you leave to ask about healthy eating options?
If you are the type of person who has dietary restrictions or allergies such as gluten-free or vegan you may want to do some research before heading to your destination. One option could be to contact the hotel concierge and see if they can suggest restaurants or grocery stores in the area that would fit your needs.
Today there are also really great website and apps (such as Yelp, OpenTable or TripAdvisor) that you can search for restaurants and stores that meet your needs. Or put out a call on your social sites asking if anyone has been to your destination and can offer suggestions!
What are snack suggestions for jet lag?
Exhaustion, like stress, can quickly manifest into poor eating choices. If you've taken the red eye or just had a really hideous day-long airport experience it works in your favor to choose nutrient dense foods. This is the time where I really try and choose a smoothie or green juice or nutritional shake.
Any of these options not only help to hydrate you (definitely needed after flying!) but also give you vitamins and minerals. Smoothies can add to that list protein as well as good fats (depending on add-ins you choose such as a plant-based protein or nut butter), both of which can help keep you full.
Top tips to avoid overindulging when away on holidays?
Between the hustle and bustle of the daily grind, combined with the increase in celebration, we often see an over indulgence in food followed by a New Year's resolution to eat better and lose weight. My number one tip to try and not overdo it at every holiday gathering is to stay present - and mindful - of your choices.
Mindfulness is all about just being present in the moment. Being more aware of our surroundings, even if those surroundings are noisy and chaotic! When we are mindful we can channel that into all of the decisions we make during the day, such as our food choices. It's not about deprivation and restriction, especially not during this celebratory time of year.
More so, it's about continuing to pay attention to hunger cues - eat when you're hungry and stop when you're full - being aware of your choices and your portions, and just simply surrounding yourself with good company, quality conversation, and a satisfying yet proportionate amount to food.
I love travelling healthy! Your suggestions are always welcome, as I continue on my journey to live life to the fullest. Let's have the very best 2016!
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