Some people believe it’s impossible to eat healthy while traveling. I’m here to tell you it’s not. Part of a great travel experience is to try the foods and local flavors. You don’t have to abandon your healthy eating habits when you’re traveling, though. I’ve traveled extensively, eaten all kinds of stuff, thoroughly enjoyed myself, and managed to avoid major weight gain. A few rules of thumb are all you need when figuring out how to eat healthy while traveling.
How To Eat Healthy While Traveling
These are some things I do, and they’ve helped me to stay healthy, avoid weight gain, and still enjoy my time at my destination without feeling deprived.
1. Balance Your Meals Throughout The Day
Everything in moderation. If you have fast food like Chic-fil-A for lunch, then be sure to eat a light, healthy dinner and vice versa. Don’t skip meals, especially if you’re hungry.
To make healthy food choices, look for nutrient-dense options such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains (brown rice, whole-grain bread, anything with a low glycemic index), and anything fresh or locally sourced.
In addition, be sure to include lean protein sources that help you stay full and give you sustained energy levels throughout the day.
2. Watch The Portion Size Of Your Meals
This works anywhere around the world. Some cultures give you much larger portions than you need or want, which may cause you to overeat. Share your meals, or make it a point to take home leftovers. You’ll not only control your calories this way but it can also help you stick to your travel budget!
3. Spread Out Your Foodie Experiments
Traveling abroad means new food, new ingredients, different flavors to try, and cuisines to experiment with. However, that can often add up to quite a few unhealthy meals.
Instead, choose one local snack, street food, or unhealthy experiment per day. Alternatively, opt to share and reduce your portion sizes.
I personally will always share first. You never know what you will like or what you won’t like. Sharing is a great way to try a little without wasting.
4. Intermittent Fasting
With the changes in time zones, especially if you’re in a completely different part of the world, your mealtimes are likely to be off-sync anyway. Incorporating, or continuing, intermittent fasting can help you control calories, balance your hormone levels, and maybe even get on track with local meal times.
5. Never Skip Breakfast
This remains true when you’re traveling. If you start your day off right with a healthy breakfast, you’re likely to continue to make healthy choices.
6. Don’t Force It
I mentioned earlier not to skip meals and that’s true. If you’re hungry don’t go without. However, if you’re not hungry then don’t force it.
Sometimes when I travel, I tend to eat a lot of snacks. It’s my way of trying street foods and nibbling on different new things that I find locally. Because I’m eating all day, I’m never that hungry at meal times. If this is you, don’t force meals, or opt for smaller lighter ones. Listen to your body and do what it says.
7. Make Wise Drink Choices
A lot of alcoholic drinks are high in calories, mainly due to all the sugar they contain. Choose red wine, or cocktails with few ingredients and limit your intake.
On the same note, juices, shakes, fruit drinks, soft drinks, and the like are also calorie-laden. Drink them sparingly, or share.
8. Stay Hydrated
The more hydrated you are, the less likely you are to feel hungry all the time. Drinking a glass of water before a meal is another way to fill yourself up a bit and limit your calories (should you wish).
One way to facilitate this is to pack a reusable water bottle and refill it everywhere you go!
9. Be Sure To Get Plenty of Sleep
Jetlag is a real problem when you first get to your destination, so make it a point to get on a regular sleep schedule. Also, remember, you’re on vacation! Rest and relaxation should be an important part of your time off.
Even trips that are action-packed should include dedicated time to unwind and rest. Being sleep-deprived can drive you to sugary, carb-loaded, or unhealthy foods. So the more rested you are, the better decisions you’ll make, and the less junk food you’ll crave.
On the same note, be cognizant of your caffeine intake. Drinking later in the day can worsen your ability to sleep properly throughout the night.
10. Stay Active
Incorporating physical activities into your trip can also help you eat healthy while traveling. Exercise burns calories and can motivate you to maintain a healthy diet and make smart choices.
11. Pack Some Snacks
Depending on where you go and the type of cuisine you’re exposed to, you may get tired of eating local fare. Plus, you may not like the snacks offered. Pack healthy snacks as a way to give yourself the taste of home (should you want it), and also a healthier option to reach for between meals.
Examples of easy-to-pack snacks are almonds, granola, granola bars, and dried fruits.
12. Cook While You’re Abroad
If you’re going for a long trip, and have access to a kitchen, then consider visiting the local grocery store and stocking up on healthy ingredients. This will allow you to make at least one meal at “home” in a healthy way.
There are a lot of methods on this list to help with maintaining a healthy diet while you travel. However, these are not difficult to incorporate into your travel routines. Whatever healthy eating rules you live by at home, just continue to apply when you travel. In other words, avoid processed foods (or limit them), eat fresh locally sourced meals, and spread out the unhealthy options.
You can still enjoy your time abroad and spread your foodie wings while maintaining a healthy diet. Just remember everything in moderation, and try to balance your days out as much as possible.
The post first appeared on The Female Professional.
Sanjana is a physician anesthesiologist, avid traveler, and entrepreneur. She founded The Female Professional to give women a voice and a community and provide resources to help them overcome hurdles and achieve success. With her experiences as a physician, as a CEO of a startup, and as a writer, she understands women's struggles and frustrations. She also understands what it takes to move past those things and come out on top. Sanjana aims to empower women to be their best, authentic selves, achieve work/life balance, and live life to the fullest through this platform.