- Nicole Rubenstein, MS, RD, CSSD, CDE
Nutrition Tips For Travel
Updated: Dec 21, 2021
I always have food in my purse or backpack. People make fun of me until we travel together and then THEY wish that they too had food in their bag!
Eating healthy on-the-go is hard. Our environment does not make it easy to select nutritious foods. Think about your food offerings at an airport. Besides the fact that everything is over priced, there is a lack of vegetables, whole grains, and FRESH food. Worse is travel on the road - gas stations and fast food - mostly junk and high fat foods. And if you have diabetes that will likely do a number on your blood sugars hours after eating.
Here are my top 4 tips for keeping your diet in check when traveling:
1) Know your schedule. Try your best to stay on track with your typical meal times. When eating at unfamiliar meal times, people tend to over eat or under eat and the eating schedule for the rest of the day becomes chaotic as well. This may mean that you end up having a meal in the car or on a plane. Here are some easy to pack foods that travel well:
Tuna or chicken packet with a single serve packet of mustard and whole grain crackers (like Ak-Mak or Wasa or Triscuit)
Protein bar (the list is endless, but pick a bar that has at least 12 grams of protein for a snack or 20-30 grams of protein for a meal)
Nuts and seeds
Peanut butter and almond butter packets
Oatmeal packet and peanut powder or protein powder (you can get hot water and a cup on the plane, at a gas station, or at the airport)
Fresh whole fruit (apples, pears, bananas, plums, peaches)
Dehydrated vegetables (you can buy them or better yet, make your own!)
2) Assess the food situation. Are you staying at a hotel that serves a continental breakfast (i.e. carbohydrate buffet)? Will you be eating out often in social settings? What restaurants are nearby? Is there a grocery store within walking distance?
Consider bringing protein powder and ground flax or chia seed to supplement a "carbohydrate breakfast buffet" or look for protein foods like hard boiled eggs to include at breakfast
Check out menus in advance. Look for simple options (fish or chicken dishes) that are not loaded with extra fats. Avoid foods with lots of cheese, heavy cream-based sauces, fried foods and breaded foods. If you have diabetes, you probably know that high carb, high fat meals can make it challenging to control blood sugar, so do your best to avoid these
Set limits on alcohol so that you don't over do it
3) Stay hydrated. Air travel can dehydrate you, so be sure to keep a reusable bottle with you at all times. Bring an empty reusable bottle through security at the airport and fill it up once you get through. Many airports now have the nice filtered water stations, as opposed to a standard water fountain. Fill it up before you get onto the plane. I have found that some flight attendants can be stingy with the water that they give out on the plane. I'm sorry but I can chug those tiny cups they provide in 1 sip! Sometimes they will fill up your reusable bottle on the plane, so do ask! Once you get to your destination, figure out if the water is safe to drink out of the tap. If not, find a grocery store and get multiple gallons to bring back to your hotel/home so that you can ensure adequate hydration throughout your trip.
4) Stay active. Does your hotel have a gym? Are there walking or running paths near by?
Find time to fit in daily exercise. First thing in the morning is best so it doesn’t slip your mind later in the day
Consider bringing a yoga mat in your suitcase and do online yoga classes from your phone, tablet, or computer
Do a HIIT routine in your room or at the hotel gym before heading out for the day
Use Google Earth to map out walking and public transit routes to help you stay more active during your trip