5 Ways to Eat Healthy While Traveling
Ever get to the food court at the airport and head straight for the Cinnabon stand? (Oh, no!) Does the sight of a TSA line trigger a Pavlovian response, sending you sprinting to the first Sbarro you see? Well, judging by the line in front of those fast ‘food’ joints, believe me, you’re not alone!
As I travel frequently and spend a fair amount of time in airports, I often wonder: what is it about travel that encourages so many people to make the kind of awful food choices they’d rarely make at home?
For some people, it may be that feeling of taking a vacation from everything, including healthy eating. For others, airport dining is a way to kill time till boarding, and for stressed-out business travelers, a fast food feast or cocktails may be a ‘reward’ for all those hours on the road. But no matter what the reason, the fact of the matter is, we can all do better with our food choices when traveling. And though airport dining options are improving, there’s still temptation at every turn, so here are a few ways to combat them and touch town feeling great – with your health intact:
- Do a little research. If you know you’ll be eating on the run, go online first to preview dining fresh offerings at the airports you’ll be passing through. Larger airports tend to have more healthy options than smaller regional ones, so plan accordingly and make the smartest food choices possible. Look for fresh food markets – fortunately there are more these days – and pick up items like sushi, salads, salmon, steamed veggies, whole fruit and low carb snacks to fuel your travels. Better yet, bring your own food.
- Plan to eat well. You’ll help keep your immune system on track if you set yourself up for success! Before you head to the airport, prep some crunchy veggies, wash a portion of strawberries, slice up an apple or orange and pop ‘em into a sealable food storage container. To add a little extra belly-filling fiber, dust them with some flax or chia seeds. Carry in your backpack or shoulder bag – and the snacks are ready when you are. No more waiting for the drinks and peanuts cart!
- Chill it up, chill it down.If you are carrying food items that need to be kept cool on a long flight, bring along a sandwich-sized, sealable plastic bag and fill it up with ice after you get through security. You can ask for a cup of ice at Starbucks or dispense ice from the self-serve soda fountain machines that line the food court aisles.
- Drink smarter. Instead of dehydrating cocktails or coffee, or sugary sodas in-flight, drink alcohol-free, uncaffeinated beverages before during and after the flight. Seltzer, water and herbal or decaf teas are good en route choices – just remember to bring along a few tea bags as airlines rarely offer decaf teas. Another tip? Carry a few packets of powdered lemon and stevia to add flavor to water, seltzer and teas – or to make an impromptu, low-cal lemonade on the run.
- Pack it in. When you’re on the road, bringing along your own individual containers of healthy foods will deliver built-in portion control, a bunch of extra nutrients and much less of the hidden sodium and sugar that often ride along in typical airport or in-flight meals. If you’re short on time or forget to bring your own, instead of chips and candy, look for healthier packaged items like single serve almond butter, protein bars, small servings of fruits and nuts, lower sodium turkey ‘jerky,’ sea vegetable snacks, chick pea snacks, Greek yogurt and whole fruits.
For more ideas on how to create a vibrant diet, a healthy gut and microbiota (the bacteria that live in your gut), check out my book The Swift Diet: 4 Weeks to Mend the Belly, Lose the Weight and Get Rid of the Bloat.