Eating right while traveling can be tough. Your schedule is thrown out of whack, and there’s a good chance that the food options at most airports or hotels are more in line with Guy Fieri than Antoni Porowski. Sometimes, it can feel like the only option is to abandon your healthy eating goals or go hungry. But you don’t have to let a flight, long hotel stay, or road trip push you into a spiral of fast food and snacks.
We reached out to nutritionists to gather the best tips for healthy eating while traveling. Stay fit out there.
Balance your plate.
Increase the volume of your meal with fruits and vegetables to make sure you get enough fiber and nutrients while keeping your overall calories lower.
“You’ll likely be eating out for most meals, so items are going to be made with more fat and salt than you would ever use at home,” says Kelsey Peoples, a registered dietitian and the owner of The Peoples Plate. “Try making your plate 25 percent lean protein, 25 percent starch or grains, and 50 percent fruits and vegetables.”
Getting that ratio on your plate can be hard when you’re facing down options that only span from McDonald’s to Taco Bell. Bringing your own veggies is one way to meet the ratio when ordering food on the go (a snack bag of snap peas goes a long way). Bowls allow you to visually see the way your meal is broken down if the option is on the menu. Take your basic McDonald’s salad bowl, for example. Southwest Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Salad has a corner of protein, starchy beans, and a lot of lettuce.
Pack your own flight snacks.
For long haul flights, Christina Tsiripidou, a wellness expert in the UK, suggests “having a mix of nuts and dark chocolate as well as a mix of fruits such as berries and grapes.” The snacks have the dual purpose of being snacks in between meals as well as balancing out the in-flight meals given on the plane, which we all know aren’t exactly five star.
Supplement your diet.
Sometimes getting all of the nutrients your body needs through food alone is difficult. Deanna Minich, the CEO of Food & Spirit, suggests supplementing the food you eat before, during, and after traveling.
“What works best for me is to do a pre-, during, and post-supplementation regimen that lasts seven days before and seven days after traveling,” Minich says. “I take supplements such as Vitamin D, probiotics, fish oil, and a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement, along with spirulina.”
Steer clear of the breakfast buffet.
As tempting as the free breakfast at the hotel can be, avoid it like your healthy eating habits depend on it. Because they do.
“Avoid the endless breakfast buffets and start with a high-quality meal with protein (try egg whites, eggs, low fat cheese, plain yogurt) with some healthy carbs (like fruits, veggies, or whole grains),” Peoples says. “While the delicacies like croissants, French toast, and Belgian waffles are tempting, you’ll overload on fast-burning carbs and crash mid-morning.”
Hydrate, and then hydrate some more.
Airplane humidity is kept around 10 to 20 percent. For perspective, the Sahara Desert has around 25 percent humidity. In short, you’re going to get dehydrated, and fast. To combat this, the Aerospace Medical Association recommends drinking eight ounces of water for every hour up in the air.
“During the trip itself, I make sure to take my own water bottle, as most airports have purified water stations these days,” Minich says. “It’s less expensive to get your own water and most likely more pure, too.”