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Eating healthy while being on the road is challenging, especially if you travel frequently or with kids. In this article, I will share my top 8 tips and explain how to eat healthy while traveling.
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Eating healthy when you cook at home is relatively simple. Finding healthy food choices when you can pick the restaurant is usually also doable. But if you are traveling and can’t control when and where to eat, things get a little bit more dicey, especially in foreign countries.
I travel a lot, both domestically and internationally and cannot always rely on having access to healthy sources of food. That is especially true when I don’t have time for a proper meal. For instance, if I have to head to the airport right after a meeting. In such cases, it is all too easy to make unhealthy food choices, just for the sake of satisfying my appetite.
Over the years I have developed simple solutions to those problems that I would like to share with you. As a result of my strategy, I have not made unhealthy food choices for over a year while being on the road. So let me show you I eat healthy while on the road by following these tips:
Take the stress out of finding healthy food options
Think outside of the box
Figuring out what’s healthy and what isn’t can be tougher than you may think. But below are some general rules that I follow when picking food and drinks.
When selecting food, I look for clean and simple options and usually stick to the following categories:
That sounds relatively straightforward, but more often than not, it’s a struggle to get just that and none of the “extras” that render food unhealthy, such as sugar-laden dressings or sauces, etc.
PS: The above food categories happen to be the pillars of the Paleo diet. If you don’t know what that is, check out this beginners guide.
As a result, I try to be as specific as I can be when ordering my food. For example, if I decide to get a steak I make sure only to get:
Regarding drinks, I stick to water, tea, coffee or the occasional adult beverage (usually red wine).
Considering that my “do eat” list of foods is relatively short, it should not come as a surprise that my “do not eat” list is long because it contains everything else. On a high level that includes:
The list above represents hundreds of individual ingredients that I try to stay away from. Unfortunately, said ingredients are literally in almost every ready-to-eat meal and often also in the food you find in restaurants.
So what can you do to avoid making unhealthy food choices, either intentionally or unintentionally?
To make my life easier while traveling, I have developed an easy-to-follow strategy that includes these tips:
When I plan a trip, I try to figure out in advance how the food situation might be at the destination. If I go to Las Vegas and stay at a hotel on the strip, I know that I won’t have any issues finding good food. But if I travel abroad or to a rural area, I try to find out if the hotel I’ll be staying has a restaurant, and if so, if it offers food that meets my expectations. If not, I’ll pack extra meal replacement drinks or snacks that can cover me until I find other food sources.
I once stayed at a Courtyard by Marriott in Akron, Ohio last year while attending a conference. That’s when I learned that Courtyard’s don’t have an actual restaurant, only a snack bar. Fortunately, they had eggs for breakfast on the menu, but that day at 6:30 am their egg delivery hadn’t arrived yet, and the only alternative they could offer was a liquid egg mix that did not fulfill my “clean eating” requirements.
The moral of the story is to plan and to look at the menu of the hotel’s restaurant you’ll be staying before you leave home. If your hotel room offers a minibar, you could also plan a trip to a nearby grocery store and load up on perishable items that are easy to consume, including:
Some folks buy these things at and bring it on their trip in a container or even a small cooler. But frankly, I don’t want to go through that hassle. If worst comes to worst and I don’t find any decent food at my destination, I rely on non-perishable snacks, meal replacement drinks or freeze-dried meals.
However, I do think, ahead of time, about the exceptions I am willing to make on my trip. For example, I may make an exception with rice if I can get good Sushi at my destination but I will stay away from wheat and other processed grains, especially if they have gluten. By deciding ahead of time, you reduce stress and are less likely to make bad choices when having to decide on the spot.
Ample meal replacement drinks have dramatically transformed my travel experience in the last few years. I discovered Ample when I compared Ample to Soylent in the summer of 2017 as part of an article I was writing. Since then, I always bring Ample when I leave home for a trip because it means, I don’t have to worry about what food I may or may not find at my destination.
Unlike a protein shake, meal replacement drinks, such as Ample, can completely replace a meal because they contain just the right mix of protein, fat, and carbohydrates.
As a result, I always have a couple of bottles of Ample in my suitcase for those cases where a regular or healthy meal might not be an option. What I like most about Ample is their ingredients and that it comes in the form of a powder, yet pre-bottled, so I only have to add water.
The ingredients of Ample are clean, healthy, and Paleo compatible, with the only exception of the Whey (milk) protein concentrate. I follow the Paleo diet relatively strictly, but I am OK with Whey as a source of protein as long as it is of high quality.
The significant advantage of Ample meal replacement drinks for travelers is that they come as a powder, so you can conveniently take the bottles through airport security. As a result, it only takes a few ounces of water to get a bottle of Ample ready to drink.
I regularly skip meals when traveling by plane and instead ask the flight attendant to pour water into my Ample bottle so I can shake it and have my meal ready to drink. On countless occasions, the flight attendants were curious and asked what I was drinking. So I explained to them the concept and told them where they could buy Ample.
Ample is available in three formulas:
Ample has been a lifesaver for my family and me on countless occasions. And I even use it at home sometimes when I have an early flight or before a CrossFit competition, because it is easier to digest than a full meal. I highly recommend giving Ample a try, especially for traveling.
On a side note, the Ample drink is also one of the airplane snacks for toddlers I would recommend. Our two kids are two and fours years old and love Ample! If you want to give Ample a try, use discount code MK15 and get 15% off your first order.
Freeze-dried meals are popular among outdoor enthusiasts, but most options you find at REI or similar stores are anything but healthy. The good news is, for those of you who prefer solid over liquid food, there is another option: Paleo Meals To Go! Founded by Dawn Anderson and her son in 2013, Paleo Meals To Go now belongs to the Wild Zora brand. I tested their meals on various occasions, including a transatlantic flight to Europe a year ago and found their freeze-dried meals both convenient as well as healthy.
Preparing a freeze-dried meal is simple! In a nutshell, you add hot water and let it stand for about ten minutes to allow the ingredients to rehydrate:
On an airplane, ask the flight attendant to pour hot water into the pouch and then let it stand for a few minutes.
Since Paleo Meals To Go is now part of Wild Zora, you can leverage the same MK15 discount code and get 15% off your first order.
Healthy snacks may sound like an oxymoron, but there are indeed healthy, non-perishable snack options that you can leverage if there are no other food sources available.
Before a trip, I usually fill my backpack up with my favorite road trip snacks, including meat and veggie bars from Wild Zora and chocolate and sea salt bars from RXBAR. Additionally, I often bring KIND bars, unless I travel by plane on Delta Airlines, because they recently started handing out KIND bars onboard!
Chosen Foods, the maker of my favorite avocado oil mayo recently launched travel-sized mayo pouches that don’t require refrigeration. You can get a pack of 8 for a few dollars on Amazon.
It’s easy to find snacks that are sweet and high in carbs, even if they are healthy. It’s rare to find healthy snacks that contain vegetables and that I don’t have to keep refrigerated. That is one of the reasons why I like Wild Zora meat & veggie bars so much. The other reason is that they are simply delicious!
If you like to give Wild Zora Meat & Veggie bars a try, make sure to use discount code MK15 to get 15% off your first order!