Just because you hit the road for business or pleasure, doesn't mean that your health or diet has to suffer. Here are some top tips on how to eat healthy while traveling.
Memorial Weekend always feels like the official start to summer, even though it's technically a few weeks later. Kids are out of school and some offices begin enjoying Summer Friday's, making for more time to relax and do some traveling. BUT, you've worked hard all year long to eat well and stay in shape (right??) so here's some ways on how you can maintain your good health while traveling.
Oh, I love to plan for a trip, almost as much as I like to actually take a trip. There's so much I like to research, but at the top of the list is where I'm going to eat. Going to a city like Paris or even Washington DC or Havana can be a bit daunting when there's only a few days to take in the best meals. On top of that, I still try and keep a clean diet by avoiding gluten, dairy and sugar, which isn't always easy, or achieved on the road, but a little research goes a long way in making me feel well when I'm not at home.
While I'm not vegan, I avoid dairy and do enjoy consuming a lot of vegetables, so I've found the Happy Cow app to be helpful. It lists vegan, vegetarian and veg-friendly restaurants. It includes restaurants in 180 countries so has a pretty good footprint and I can always find some restaurants serving up greens when I use the app.
Yelp, Chowhound and TripAdvisor offer more mass recommendations that you'll need to spend time weeding through, but you can usually find a general consensus on the options available.
I am thrilled to see more and more countries around the world offering healthier food selections. Who would have known that cities like Prague and Krakow have so many vegan, vegetarian and allergy friendly options. It was fascinating to learn that just over a year ago the Czech Republic had to start listing up to 14 different allergies on their menus with a special numbered system. That even puts health-centric Los Angeles to shame!
PACK HEALTHY SNACKS
As much planning as you can do, there's still going to be times that you're not going to have access to healthy food. I always travel with some clean eating snacks so I'm never on a long train ride without food or hit a European city during the mysterious afternoon closures. A few of my favorite healthy travel snacks include:
- Energy bars like the gluten free, dairy free, paleo one's from Bulletproof or Epic
- My sugar free curry lime nuts are usually gone by the end of my plane ride!
- Plain raw, organic nuts. I buy them in bulk and them put them into smaller ziploc bags so I can throw a smaller bag in my purse when I head out for the day
- Celery or other raw vegetables with single serve nut butters like Sunbutter's or Justin's almond butter
- I pack my kale rosemary super seed crackers because you can always use a good gluten free cracker
- These protein packed energy bites come in handy when hunger strikes, and these 2 ingredient healthy banana cookies are always a crowd pleaser
- Depending on where I'm going, I'll usually throw in some BPA-free cans or pouches of tuna, salmon and/or sardines
- After my trip to Cuba, I learned to always carry some spices like Real Salt or Herbamare for guaranteed seasoning.
Don't forget to keep in mind TSA and foreign country's regulations on what you can travel with and bring in. Liquids are of course a no-no in your carry on, but some countries have issues with outside nuts, fruit and meat, so do your research before you load up on supplies.
BOOK ACCOMMODATIONS WITH A KITCHEN
I really enjoy using AirBnB when I travel. I feel a little less like a tourist when I'm in a foreign country. I used AirBnB when I was in Cuba and also when I was in Ischia, Italy last year. It worked really well because I got to stay with friends in one place, but we each had our own rooms and bathrooms, and things move much swifter when everyone has their own space!
So there's the room convenience, but there's also the added kitchen amenity. I like to have breakfast at "home" to ensure a healthy start to the day. On top of that, it's a time and money saver to not have all of your meals out. I also enjoy drinking a glass of local wine while watching the sunset and getting ready for dinner. Wine is grapes after all!
Having a kitchen also means visiting the local farmer's market. That's always one of my essential stops on any trip. I love seeing what grows in the area and it's a bonus to discover a new fruit or vegetable. Exploring the supermarkets in a foreign country is also fun for the same reason. Even if you're doing a local trip, it's always nice to be near some places to stock up on fresh food and snacks so you have a few healthy supplies at the ready.
If you're in a hotel, you can try for a kitchenette. I've also been known to remove items from the mini bar to put my own items in the little fridge. Filling a sink or a bucket with ice will also work as well.
I believe you should get as much of your vitamins as possible from your food, but when you're away from home, it's not always easy. The vegetable plates in Cuba consisted of onions and peppers! That's why I always pack a few essential supplements when I'm traveling. Here are some of my favorites:
- Super Food Protein Vitamin Powders like Sun Warrior or Ancient Nutrition Bone Broth Greens help round out your diet in case you miss any valuable nutrients at mealtime.
- Probiotics help keep your digestion and gut on track. I like this one and this one. Neither need to be refrigerated, making it good for travel.
- Melatonin beats Ambien for falling asleep naturally, without a weird hangover. No one wants to fight jet lag during vacation, so I find melatonin the best help for adapting to a new time zone. Of course you should always consult with your doctor before taking any new medications.
- Activated charcoal helped me a lot when I was indulging in the local, quite foreign, cuisines of India and Vietnam. It binds to toxins to remove them from your system. When I got food poisoning in Cuba, charcoal saved the day. Just be sure to take charcoal pills away from any other medication since it will bind to everything and remove.
- Extra Vitamin C can boost your immune system so you stay healthy and energetic while traveling.
So remember all of those healthy things you do while you're at home? You should try and remember a lot of them while you're traveling too. It's funny how people get vacation mentality and think that means they can turn into someone else when they're on the road. If you have gluten issues at home, guess what, they come with you when you're away from home. Worse still, is that your body isn't as strong when you're traveling so it isn't as adept at fighting off the inflammation that will develop when you put ingredients in your body that it doesn't like.
Processed food, sugar and heavy amounts of booze are going to slow you down on your vacation, just as much as they do while you're at home. You should enjoy your time away, but if you're going to indulge in a local sweet treat (I'm looking at you lovely Parisian macarons), then try to limit it. Three cocktails at every meal is going to further dehydrate your jet lagged body and zap your energy, so perhaps save the specialty drink for dinner. And look for drinks with low sugar to save your aching head in the morning. If you're going to party all night in Ibiza, then plan for a sleep-in the next day.
With that said, enjoy your time away! Try some local delicacies that may be foreign to you. Explore the farmer's market, talk to the locals and don't be shy about explaining any food allergies. The world is a different place now and accommodations can be made for many.
With a little bit of planning and proper preparation, you can eat healthy while traveling, and not return home in need of another vacation to recuperate! Happy and healthy travels to you!
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