It can be a challenge to eat well while traveling. Convenience food, eating out at restaurants, extra sweets, alcohol and skipping meals can leave you feeling tired, bloated and generally not your best. Combine that with long travel days, less movement and not sleeping well, travel can feel like less of a vacation and more of a stress on your body.
Whether you are traveling for work or for pleasure, by putting some simple strategies in place you can easily navigate travel to keep you healthy, happy and having fun!
Here are my top tips for navigating food choices when you are traveling:
There is nothing worse than being without food when hunger strikes. If your flight sits on the ground for hours before takeoff or you miss breakfast before your early meeting, having something with you to eat will save you from skipping a meal or resorting to the vending machine.
Here are my go-to foods that I pack for any trip:
If I’m traveling by car, I might also pack a cooler with some perishable items like organic deli meat, coconut yogurt and a home – made kale salad (recipe below).
By bringing food with me, I ensure that I’m covered for whatever travel throws my way!
I always scope out the grocery stores at my destination and plan on stopping there if needed. I can grab some simple staples like hard boiled eggs, avocados, a big salad from the salad bar and replenish my snack supply. If I’m traveling by car, I might also pack a blender and then pick up smoothie supplies as well.
I try to book a hotel room with a fridge or, better yet, a small kitchenette so I can make at least some of my own meals. This saves money on eating out and helps me prioritize maintaining good nutrition while avoiding overly processed or high sugar options that might be more convenient. Most of all, eating real food simply feels better. Who wants to be away from the comforts of home feeling sick, bloated, constipated, fatigued or moody due to something as preventable as eating real whole foods!
Eating out at restaurants can be challenging especially if you are following a personalized diet to support autoimmune disease, hormone balance or weight loss. On one hand you want to enjoy the pleasures of dining out, but on the other hand you want to maintain the progress that you’ve made with your health goals.
One of the best strategies to navigate restaurant eating is simply by having a plan. Here is what I mean:
Another tip is to travel with supplements. Digestive enzymes and an organic greens powder are my top recommendations, along with any other supplements that you may be taking as part of your functional medicine protocol.
Digestive enzymes, such as Digestive Enzymes Ultra by Pure Encapsulations, are great to have in your purse or bag while traveling to help digest the foods that you are eating. Since it is common to eat foods that you don’t normally eat while traveling or sit a lot on long travel days (movement can help with digestion), digestive enzymes can simply give your GI tract a little love and support.
If you are sensitive to gluten or dairy, Pure Encapsulations also makes Gluten and Dairy Digest, which is specifically formulated to help you digest these proteins should you encounter any contamination by eating away from home.
One common challenge with travel is getting in enough veggies. Eating plenty of produce each day provides essential nutrients, antioxidants and helps to keep you regular, which can be very helpful when traveling. Using an organic greens powder, such as this one from Amazing Grass, can help to fill in the veggie gap. Simply mix a scoop with water or nut milk as a great way to start a day of travel and exploring.
My goal for you is that with these strategies you can travel with ease! Eating while traveling shouldn’t be stressful or trigger feelings of guilt or shame around your food choices. Instead, it can be helpful to take the mindset of simply doing your best. Being prepared certainly helps with this positive view. Create a balance between nourishing your body with nutritious foods and enjoying the pleasure of eating and trying new things. If your body doesn’t like something you try, take note, and adjust for the next meal.
The more that you work with these strategies along with tuning into your body’s needs, the easier it will become to travel and maintain your health goals at the same time. You’ll just need to travel more to practice!
I travel a lot for work and also with my family. When I’m on my nutrition game, I whip up a batch of this kale salad the night before I leave. In the morning, I divide the kale among 3-4 travel bowls (I like LunchBots), top with any extra protein I have in the fridge and I’m done! It’s quick, tasty, nutrient dense and satisfying. Knowing I have something delicious and nutritious to enjoy keeps my eyes off the candy at the gas stations which I appreciate so that I can trust my travels will be fun and I will feel well!
8-10 large stalks of Lacinato kale (aka dinosaur kale)
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons tahini
½-1 whole lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons unfortified nutritional yeast
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1. Mix the oil, tahini, lemon juice and nutritional yeast until combined. Set aside.
2. Strip the kale leaves off the stems and discard the stems. Tear the kale into bite size pieces and sprinkle with salt.
3. Squeeze and massage the kale very hard for about 3-5 minutes or until the kale is very soft and appears “cooked.”
4. Stir in the lemon tahini dressing. Note: for extra delicious salad, store in the fridge 8 hours or overnight to let the flavors deepen.
5. Before serving, top with walnuts.