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Ever been lost in an airport with only fast food in sight? Or landed in a new city late at night, when even your hotel says they have no food available? I feel your pain, I’ve been there too. It can be really difficult to travel and find delicious, healthy food.
We all know that we have more energy, feel better and look better when we are eating more fresh healthy food. But, even with the increasing global awareness and sprouting up of new “healthy fast food” restaurants ranging from Chipotle to Sprouts, in a new city or short business trip it can be hard to make time for healthy eating.
Below are some tried and true strategies you can use to find healthy food and feel more energetic on any trip.. With a little creativity, you can enjoy healthy meals or snacks in a hotel room and on the go, whether the trip is for business, pleasure, or a family holiday.
1. Book a Room with a Kitchen
If you can, stay at an airbnb or book a hotel that has a kitchenette. This will give you more flexibility for meal prep, and you can at least prepare some healthy staple meals and have them ready when you want to go. I like to prepare a packed lunch if I know I am going to have a full day hiking, the beach, exploring, etc.
You can also make simple healthy breakfasts most days in your kitchen. Pasta salad or green salad with beans are my two go-to packed lunches when travelling. Breakfasts use oatmeal, chia pudding, almond flour cereal, or fruit with nut butter.
2. Stop at a Local Grocery Store
If you can pick up some healthy staples, will have what you need on hand and also also save you a bit of money by not eating out all the time. Be sure to stock up on breakfast and snack food, as well as some staples for quick lunches and dinners.
Staples I like to buy locally: milk and/or yogurt for breakfast and snacks, fresh fruit, bags of greens and veggies for quick lunches and dinner, pasta for quick meals if you have a kitchen, and a couple cans of beans.
If the grocery store has a salad bar, you can also pick up salads for lunch or dinner at a fraction of the cost of eating out.
3. Bring Healthy Staples
You can easily pack dry items like nuts, oats, and chia seeds, as well as small containers of salt, vinegar, coconut or olive oil, and spices. I like to add a jar of nut or seed butter to have with fruit or on toast. Snack or energy bars, and trail mix are also good to have on hand. Sometimes I’ll even
By packing some basics, you have what you need for quick breakfast or snack when you arrive. Think simple and portable favorite snacks or easy breakfasts. Just this simple step will mean that at least twice a day (breakfast and snack) you are getting something nourishing.
4. Include Favorite Supplements
While you don’t need supplements to be healthy, I like to travel with some that I find make a difference to my health, especially on longer trips.
I like to pack wheatgrass juice power, some favorite herbal tea bags, vitamin C, probiotics, and magnesium. Here’s why:
- Wheatgrass juice powder will help fill in any nutritional holes if you’re not getting enough veggies or a particularly varied diet. I like organic wheatgrass juice powder.
- Tea is a soothing bedtime or morning routine. I love Dragon Herbs Longevity.
- Vitamin C helps boost immunity, which can get low in travel. This one is supposed to be especially well absorbed, so it’s what I use C-Salts® GMO FREE Buffered Vitamin C Powder
- Probiotics help balance digestive healthy, which can become imbalanced with travel. These are pricey, but the best I’ve ever used are NatureWise Daily Probiotics.
- Magnesium helps ward off stress that comes with travel, and also helps with sleep. I don’t really have a favorite, but I’ve been using Doctor’s Best High Absorption Magnesium.
5. Visit Hotel Buffets
Even in remote areas, the more upscale or chain hotels will have a variety of healthy options. For example, here in Guyana I can get the all-you-can-eat salad bar, which includes some cooked veggies, as well as beans, egg, shrimp, and pasta salads for $12.
Hotel buffets are also a good option because if you see they don’t have as many vegetables as you’d like, you can respectfully explain your dietary preferences and they are usually more than happy to provide a big plate of sautéed vegetables in addition to what you can get from their buffet. And that leads into the next point, which is:
6. Ask for What You Want
When eating out, remember that you can ask nicely that the food is prepared the way you like. I find most restaurants are happy to provide simple plain steamed of sautéed vegetables, bean salads, etc. and accommodate other requests if you ask respectfully.
I know this is daunting from some people – my brother nearly crawls under the table if I do it while he’s around – but with all the special diets these days, you’re not seen as totally extra (Or maybe you are? Who cares.).
Just politely explain to the server your situation and ask what they recommend. Usually they are happy to point out the dishes that meet your needs, or see if a dish could be modified. In very rare cases they will say there is nothing you can eat here. If that happens, and you have time and flexibility, ask where they recommend you go instead.
I’ve actually found some of my favorite restaurants this way!
7. Sample the Local Cuisine
Often traditional cuisines are still based in ancient food habits and connected to nature. For this reason, they are some of the healthiest options in any new location. Here are a few ideas of healthy local foods to try:
- Roti, dahl, channa or saag in India or Pakistan
- Labne sandwich in Lebanon
- Arepas, chia pudding, and quinoa porridge in Bolivia
- Miso and many seaweed dishes in Japan, or the variety of vegetable dishes with tofu and rice
- Bean based desserts in China
- Pizza in Italy, with its very fine crust, is much healthier than the heavy fast food pizzas you can get elsewhere. Even gelato in Italy is much lighter than a 1/2 cup of Ben and Jerry’s.
Everywhere I go in the world, I make it a mission to sample the traditional dishes. Most of the time, they are something delicious that I couldn’t make myself. I am nourishing my body with new foods, new flavors, and new experiences.
Putting It All Together
Finally, I always make it my mission to choose fruits and veggies first, at every meal or snack. I always fill my plate with as many veggies as I can, and then enjoy all the other offerings. This allows me to splurge on what is the most delicious, new and exciting, and be sure I am still giving my body the nutrients it needs.
What are your best tips for healthy eating while traveling?