One activity on the top of almost every wish list is ‘traveling’. Breaking the routine and exploring new places and people is something that excites most people. You might know a couple of your friends or family who make it a point to take an annual vacation (sometimes two!) and share their happy pictures on social media. Then there are those whose work takes them places on a weekly or monthly basis and lets them discover new cultures and work ethics. But be it for leisure or business, traveling around does take a toll on the ‘eating habits’.
According to a study, when traveling through different time zones, the circadian rhythm of our healthy gut microbes is interrupted severely which directly impacts the metabolic activity and thus could lead to obesity. Experiments conducted on mice have highlighted the negative consequences of jet lag and fatty food consumption during frequent traveling.
But a bit of preparation and thought put into what to pack, including the Tupperware and ziplock bags, and when to eat during traveling could save everyone a lot of hassle and present some healthier options to choose from. In addition to some amazing articles on healthy living, here are five practical tips for eating healthy while traveling.
1. Go Nuts
Not literally of course, but you do need to preemptively think about the healthier food choices you can carry with yourself while traveling. A careful amount of preparation would be required in thinking about what you want to take and prefer munching on instead of a lot of new but unhealthy food you may find at the airport or streets of a new city. There are several convenient options which include:
- Dried fruits
- Homemade energy bars
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Boiled eggs
You can carry them in your bag and munch on them whenever faced with sudden hunger pangs. Better yet, divide them into single-serving sized ziplock bags to avoid binging on them. These ‘munch bags’ could serve as a blessing considering the unpredictability of travel, what with delayed flights, long waiting queues for famous monuments, or simply not being able to find the food of your choice in a foreign city.
Several dieticians recommend a daily intake of nuts is 30g (a small handful) or approximately: 20 almonds, 15 cashews, and 20 hazelnuts. Dried berries could also help in curbing the sweet cravings one encounters looking at diverse confectionery items in most of the European travel destinations. Of course, you can always indulge in new cuisines, but keeping a healthy alternative in your bag would serve you well in the long term.
2. Baby Food, Baby!
As strange as it may sound, but baby food has proved to go much easier on the stomach as compared to most of the novel food choices one finds in a foreign place. Instead of shocking the body with a never-before-tried protein or fancy looking dessert options, choosing a familiar baby food formula could be a better nutritional solution.
Jill Weisenberger, author of Prediabetes: A Complete Guide, swears by this travel hack especially for places where water hygiene is questionable. In addition to the range of different flavors, the fiber content of such pureed fruits, vegetables, and cereal mixes are good for the gut. It helps in regularizing gut metabolism and the provision of nutrient-rich food during traveling and keeps the body healthy. Although a long term switch to baby food may not fulfill the complete daily nutritional requirements of an adult, therefore, caution must be exercised. Still, it is a safe alternative for those with a weak stomach and an unpredictable travel schedule.
3. Take Hydration Seriously
Keeping hydration throughout the day is a general health guideline everyone must follow, whether traveling or not. But it becomes paramount to keep a water bottle, preferably lukewarm, in your bag when traveling, along with some of your favorite flavors of tea bags, so that you could sip on those rejuvenating tea leaves on the go.
While on the flight, taking hits of caffeine in the form of coffee and black tea to avoid grogginess adds up to the lethargic feeling. Therefore water and/or green tea are better alternatives so that you are on your feet and active once you land at your destination and ready to explore. Just remember to refill your water bottle with boiled water, to avoid any local bacteria, before you go sightseeing.
4. Power-Packed Breakfast
There is no denying that the kind of breakfast you have sets the mood of the whole day. When staying abroad at hotels, especially during vacations, you may be tempted to get into the “I’m on vacation!” mode and overindulge yourself with all the new and unique offerings on display. There are several reasons your craving-driven taste buds would make you break all your diet rules but three main factors might explain the splurge-prone behavior:
- Hotels serve bigger portions than the recommended serving size.
- You tend to eat those large servings – dutifully (remember, “I’m on vacation!” mode?).
- More caloric and fat-rich ingredients make food look deceptively ‘delicious’.
Stay away from those drool-worthy buffet tables, especially for breakfast, and instead order a healthy ala carte meal with lots of fibrous vegetables and fruits, a hearty selection of protein and carbohydrates, along with fresh juice. This would fill your stomach for a longer period with fewer cravings in between and prepare you to walk around the city with more vigor.
Once you have the power-packed breakfast first thing in the morning, you need to schedule your meal times for the rest of the day, with a couple of mini-meals to avoid overeating.
5. Healthy Meal Kits
There is a global trend for home-cooked healthy alternatives to eating out and with meal delivery service available, you could get healthy food in most parts of the world. The list of such services can be found here. Whatever travel accommodation choice you have, all you need to check while booking is whether it has a kitchen. With all of the ingredients delivered to you, it would take less time than ordering out to make a quick, delicious, and healthy meal for you and your fellow travelers along with easy-to-follow cooking instructions.
Some favorites are Home Chef (for the keto diet), Blue Apron (for calorie counting), Sun Basket (healthy meal kit for families), Purple Carrot (vegetarian and vegan meal kit), and Amazon’s Fresh meal kits, among many more.