Ah, the joys of traveling! The exploring, wandering and getting lost. The new people, cultures and food you’ll try. It’s an exciting feeling thinking about an upcoming trip, but can soon vanish by uneasy feelings wondering “what am I going to do about my meal plan???”
You start to get a slight panic, thinking about how gas stations and airports are usually filled with only junk and it’s hard to eat healthy on the road. If you want to stay with your regular healthy eating habits, you need to pay an arm and a leg for a lousy airport salad with 3 pieces of lettuce or skip out on a meal here and there. On top of that, unfortunately, there will always be that guilty feeling we have the first time we start screwing up our diet. It can definitely create a lot of stress, before and during your trip. It starts out as thinking it will just be that one time, but then the YOLO effect happens.
I mean, don’t get me wrong YOLOing is fun and all..c Like really fun. You definitely need to incorporate some of it into your vacation – you’ve worked hard for it! Although, when you come back home, the worst part is when your 1 week vacation screws up your whole 1 month routine. Considering it takes 21 days to make a habit, long trips can be really detrimental to your workout and meal plans – but that’s not to say that those 3 day weekend trips don’t throw of your routine either. cBoth are equally as dangerous. cSo, that brings you to think how can you actually stay healthy when you’re traveling?
Here are some techniques to keep your eating clean on vacation, so you can have just the right amount of enjoyment and discipline – and all the peace of mind!
The Big Picture
Typically, you’ll know how long you’ll be in the destination you’re traveling to for. This gives you leverage in planning how much you can indulge, and how much you need to hold back. For example, if you’re staying somewhere for 2 weeks, make sure your first week isn’t full of poor meal choices, because this will induce the second week to be the same.
Why? Well, typically the first few days of the trip you’ll end up eating in airports, on the plane, on the go, etc. and therefor consumer a lot more “unhealthy” food than you accounted for. If the rest of your week keeps up like this, then it’s less likely that a strike of motivation will come over you towards the later part of your trip. So instead, just go into the trip looking at the big picture.
Eat healthy when you can, and remember you can always be a little more strict when you get back. If your going on a 2 week trip and eat healthy half the time – that’s 7 days of not-so-perfect eating (which is 100000% okay!). Let’s say you had 1-2 cheat meals those days. That’s roughly 10 meals out of 84 of the month’s meals. Don’t worry – go for it!
The Wallet Pleaser
This technique is as economic as it is effective. Headed to an expensive destination? Like skiing in the Alps? Or what about a lengthy trip for a some type of project? Eating out in restaurants 3 times a day really adds up. Fast…
A great technique that saves you quite a bit of money and keeps your eating habits in check is the “one meal out a day rule.”
It sounds exactly like is it – only go out to a restaurant for one meal per day, or for a couple small meals. It sounds easy until you arrive at your destination and you realize that there is no kitchen. Although, that doesn’t mean you can’t get a little creative. Head out to the market and buy enough to cover your breakfast, and some serious snacking. I f you buy a package of oats, you can use your hotel coffee machine to boil water, and cut up some apples, cinnamon, and add some nuts/ nut butter and you’ve got your breakfast for about $1.50 per meal! For the evening; pre-made hummus, veggies, actually healthy crackers, figs and dates, nuts, grapes, cherry tomatoes, pickles, olives and some red wine (ahem.. For the antioxidants, of course) can be a fun way to wine and dine in your hotel room. (You can stay in the cosy robe and slippers, we won’t tell.)
If you’re staying at a hotel they’ll have no problem giving you a couple plates and cutlery. You can even take it one step further and travel with/ buy a chopping board. Buy some veggies, lemon and nuts and you’ve got yourself a super healthy salad (that probably costs less than $2.00).
Keep Calm With a Kitchen
One of the easiest ways to stay healthy when you travel is to cook like you do when you’re at home. Choosing a cute Airbnb with a fully equipped kitchen is worth it – especially if you’re going on a long trip. You don’t have to spend time wondering around finding restaurants 3 times a day, and you get to control what exactly goes into your meals ( like the the oils, sauces, etc. that restaurants use that are not not healthy.) Plus, you can create a romantic night and cook dinner together. Or, if you’re with friends you can take turns sharing recipes and cooking styles.
Did you know that studies show that eating soup can change your overall eating habits to include more protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, and fewer calories and fat? Soup had always been a dish in the books of weight-loss. It’s also sometimes the healthiest option on the menu when you’re traveling. Typically it’s packed with veggies, which means you’ll be able to get your nutrients in. Or, a fresh fish soup is not only absolutely delicious, but also highly nutritious and is low in calories. Just try to avoid soups with dairy and stick to a clear broth. And, as tempting as it is, don’t overdo it on the bread either (on a side note – avoid chilli considering is probably has a decent amount of brown sugar, and little nutrient rich foods, compared to other soups).
Hijack Your Friends Kitchen
If you’re in a place where it’s hard to get a place with a kitchen, than it’s time to think outside of the box and locate a kitchen. If you know a local in the area you’re visiting, suggest to have dinner at their place and offer to cook and buy the groceries. Suggest to make your favorite meal, or make your own sushi/ rice paper rolls – something fun that you usually wouldn’t make everyday. This way, you’ll get to spend some quality time with them where they don’t have to feel like a tour guide, and you get to share a nutritious meal.
Realistically speaking, you’re not going to want to (nor should you) be extremely strict with your diet on vacation. You’re on vacation to relax – so don’t add extra stress. Or, if you’re traveling for business, you may not have the opportunity to opt in for a super healthy meal – and that’s okay. If you aim to have a balanced diet when traveling, this allows some room for cheating. If you choose the healthier option when you can, you won’t have to feel guilty about when you can’t (like when it’s a set menu, or you just want a yolo moment). Sometimes it can be tempting to go all in for your full trip, but by the middle of your tip, you’ll be probably even missing your old eating habits. If you split up your trip week by week, day by day or meal by meal, it doesn’t really matter – as long as you’re staying balanced in your diet.
This will keep your mind at ease and balanced too.
Try New Things
After all, one of the best things about traveling is the eating you’ll do! Nothing is better than trying local dishes full of flavor and unusual ingredients you don’t get at home. Salad doesn’t always cut it. Especially if you’re traveling in a third world country that does not have drinkable water, eating a salad can actually make you really sick (because they could wash their vegetables with tap water). Many places all over the world actually have healthy local food that is not processes at all, and packed with vegetables. Many local soups, salads, curries, stir-frys, appetizers like hummus and guacamole are all likely to be in your health guidelines, and tasty and satisfying.
P.s. For when your trip comes to an end, check out our post about how to get back on track after traveling!