It’s so easy to fall off the health wagon when you’re traveling. We talked to the experts to find simple changes that will keep you on track while on vacation.
Power up on proteins
“Too often, the snacks we reach for are munchy-crunchy carbs that lack nutrient density and long-lasting energy,” says says Joy Wang, RDN, Senior Registered Dietitian, at Sunbasket. She suggests energizing proteins such as hard-boiled eggs, grass-fed jerky, nuts, roasted chickpeas, and mini-packs of hummus paired with veggies.
DIY trail mix
Store-bought trail mix is often mostly chocolate and sugar-coated fruits with a garnish of nuts. “Better to make your own mix of nuts and seeds, which are loaded with appetite-curbing good fats and a punch of protein,” says Wang. “Add some unsweetened dried fruit or a few pieces of good-quality dark chocolate for a touch of sweetness.”
Snack on schedule
“Stick to a schedule and snack deliberately—snacks are everywhere and make it easy to eat all day,” says Wang. Plan out your day’s itinerary in advance and bring a between-meal snack to be eaten at specific times.
Traveling is all about trying new things and that includes food. “I always encourage my patients to embrace local vegetables and traditional ingredients to make the experience more memorable and joyful,” says Dr. Uma Naidoo, MD, nutritional psychiatrist and author of This Is Your Brain on Food. But how do you not overindulge? “If you are traveling with family and friends, sharing dishes is a great way for you to taste different flavors and have a colorful and varied meal without overeating one particular dish,” says Dr. Uma. Also, she recommends aiming to fill your plate with at least 60% fiber-rich vegetables. MORE FOR YOU8 Reasons To Road Trip To Niagara Falls, New York This YearThe Summer Of The RVYour All-Access Pass To Great Art In New York City
Skip dessert and eat fruit
“Fruits are full of phytonutrients, which gives them their bright colors and makes them healthy powerhouses,” says Dr. Uma. She notes that while some of them can be high in sugar (like bananas and mangoes), there are others packed with fiber and low in sugar, which will help keep your insulin levels on an even keel. These include: strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries; green apples; cherries and citrus fruits.
“A fruit that checks all of these boxes (and is one of my favorites) is fresh avocado,” says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, a nutrition, diabetes, and fitness expert, and spokesperson for Love One Today. Unlike most other fruits, avocado contains zero grams of naturally occurring sugar per serving. “They’re a unique fruit containing just 4 grams of carbohydrate per serving, 79% of which is fiber, which helps keep you full and satisfied.” She suggests mashed avocado mixed with salsa and rolled into a whole-wheat tortilla for a great beach snack or on-the-go car ride.
Have a cut-off time for eating
“Some people find it easier to avoid snacking at night if they implement a cut-off time,” says Adriana Chychula, RD, based in Chicago, Illinois. Make sure your dinner is satisfying and snack on healthful options during the day to avoid the temptation to binge at night and then try to stick to your daily cut-off time (for example, no eating after 8 p.m.). And if temptation strikes, Chychula recommends picking a filling, whole-food option and limiting yourself to one small pre-portioned serving. (And leave the container elsewhere so you’re not tempted to take more!)
“To avoid falling completely off track with healthy habits like exercise and eating well, prioritize physical activity throughout the day, like walking around a city you’re visiting, exploring a museum or biking to various attractions,” says Kathrine Kofoed, health coach and nutritionist.
Bring your own water bottle
“Whether you’re traveling by car, train, or plane, changes in altitude and confined airflow can take a toll on your hydration status,” says Wang. Plus, hotter temperatures in the summer months increase your need for water. But having a water bottle is useless if you never drink it. Use an app or timer to remind you to drink regularly throughout the day.
Look at the ingredient list
Base your food choices on whole, minimally processed foods as much as possible. “Apply the same notion to packaged foods by using this simple tip: the shorter the ingredient list, the better,” says Wang. “The most nutritious foods of all have an ingredient list one-word long
Eat the rainbow
A balanced plate featuring a variety of nutrients can be achieved by incorporating as many colored foods as possible. “Nature’s own color-coding system ensures that different compounds in foods—including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants—create a variety of colors in fruits and vegetables,” says Wang.
Have something at the ready in your bag
Instead of potato chips, have a healthy snack for when hunger strikes. For Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, RD, seaweed is a great option. She says: “First off, seaweed is a real vegetable actually found in nature, not crafted in the laboratory. Therefore, it naturally contains plant-based trace minerals and micronutrients that help our bodies continue to function at optimum levels.” She suggests gimMe Organic Roasted Seaweed Snacks. “Subbing out calorie dense, oily and sodium laden potato chips with light and crispy seaweed snacks will not just deliver on the health front but will also introduce and expose invigorating flavors to everyone in the family,” says Beckerman.
If you’re looking for low-carb, Keto-friendly snacks, Melissa Rifkin, an RD specializing in weight management & bariatrics suggests Fat Snax. She likes that the ingredients are simple—almond flour, butter, and coconut flour—and that the snacks include fiber. “I need a sweet after dinner, and my all-time favorite cookie is a Fat Snax Double Chocolate Cookie, it’s light and chocolatey—hits the spot, and keeps me in check with following a low-carb diet.”