How To Stay on Track with Your Nutrition While Travelling
With the summer almost behind us, and the cooler months creeping in, it may seem strange that I am writing a blog post about travelling now. Well, and I know I’m not alone here, summers are just too damn hot, and far too busy, that I prefer to go travelling when temperatures have cooled, kids are back at school and the busy summer weekends are in my rear-view mirror. And regardless, this blog post is still relevant whether you’ve done the bulk of your travelling for the year, or your big trip is coming-up, as these tips can be used over and over again.
While travelling somewhere new is always fun, trying to eat healthy and stay-on-track can be a challenge. A vacation in general tends to evoke images of delicious drinks, decadent food and an abundance of pretty much everything. And while I’m also guilty of throwing all my nutritional-savvy out of the window, just because “I’m on vacation!”, I find that in the end, I always come back to reality wishing I hadn’t been so care-free. Although we always love sharing the stories of our vacations to our friends and family, rarely do we ever talk about those post-vacation blues – you know, when you need a vacation, just to recover from the vacation. Some of the symptoms are sunburned skin, very little sleep, lack of energy, and those extra few pounds that have come back with you as well.
Well, eating healthy on vacation doesn’t have to be difficult, or a buzzkill, and it can even leave you with increased energy and far-less post-vacation blues as well. Here are five tried-and-true tips to take with you the next time you go on your next adventure:
1. Plan Ahead
This one may seem self-explanatory, but with all the planning that goes into organizing a vacation (bonus points if you also have kids to plan for too), it’s easy to overlook the importance of planning what to eat along the way.
If your adventure is a car-ride away, then this could mean pre-making meals and snacks to bring with you. When my friends and I are off on a road trip, I always make an effort to pack some super-dense homemade muffins (which can also double as an on-the-go breakfast), trail mix and either energy balls or cookies to curb my sweet tooth. If your adventure is taking you international, then take some time to research healthier restaurants to hit once you are there. Personally, I love using my travels as an opportunity to visit some popular smoothie/juice bars or vegan restaurants that I know are bucket-list items.
Planning ahead also allows you to pack items that you eat often and that are always such an annoyance to purchase once you arrive. Things like almond butter, coconut or olive oil, cinnamon and my favourite tea are essentials in diet so I like to pack them and make my life a little easier once I arrive at my destination.
2. Pack Healthy Snacks
Packing healthy snacks goes hand-in-hand with planning ahead. Whether your adventure is a car ride away or a 7-hour-flight, having an arsenal of healthy, non-perishable snacks on hand can be the difference between processed, sugar-laden airport food and a fresh alternative. Most hotels only offer a continental breakfast which are usually a smorgasbord of high sugar and processed foods like cereal and pastries, so having better alternatives on-hand not only saves you time in the mornings, but also keeps you from reaching for that third chocolate croissant.
In addition, and if you’re anything like me, I require snacks to keep my energy high, especially when I have a day of sightseeing planned. Last October I travelled to Italy for two weeks, and my pre-packed protein bars and fresh fruit were crucial to keeping me feeling good throughout our long days of walking around the various Italian cities. (It also meant I didn’t head into every pizzeria and gelato shop that I passed!)
Here are some snacks that are great for packing and taking with you, or purchasing once you arrive:
- Protein bars or homemade granola bars
- Dried fruit and nuts
- Energy balls
- Apples or bananas
- Super dense muffins (like these that are my newest obsession)
3. Eat Out Less
This tip is very much dependent on what type of vacation you are taking. If you are taking a sunny all-inclusive or a cruise, cooking for yourself is more of a challenge. (Although eating healthy isn’t – see number four below.) But if you are planning your next adventure yourself, I highly recommend staying in places that will allow you to have access to a kitchen – for example, booking with AirBnb or finding hotels that also have kitchens included in your room.
Hitting up a grocery store once you arrive to stock up on some kitchen staples will allow you to have a little more control in what you eat during your travels. When I travel, I like to make breakfast at home, pack a lunch/snacks and then indulge in a more expensive dinner. Not only is this a more budget friendly option, but it stops you from eating out for every meal, every day. Balancing out your heavier dinners with a lighter breakfast or lunch is a great way to stay-on track and keep your energy levels high.
4. Pretend You Are Eating At Home
As I mentioned before, just because you are stuck eating out or at the buffet for every meal, doesn’t mean you have to completely fall of the nutritional wagon. For some reason, many people (myself included), feel like vacation is a time to completely disregard normal eating habits. But remember, if you wouldn’t eat something at home, then don’t change your values just because you’re now on vacation.
Pre-making meals and snacks helps a lot with this, but if you are vacationing to a resort or on a cruise, and bringing your own meals just isn’t doable, then remember to stick to the same healthy food choices you would at home. Fill up on delicious, nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables and lean proteins, before hitting up the pizza and pasta. Indulge in less sugar-filled treats for dessert, such as fresh fruit and yogurt, instead of brownies and ice cream. The great thing about resorts or cruises is that their buffets and food choices tend to be incredibly varied and cater to all diets, so it’s just up to you to make the right choices and be a little more restrained, even though you are on vacation.
5. Don’t Stress
This one is equally as important as the others. Remember, vacation is supposed to be a time to relax, rejuvenate and get away from the stresses of everyday life. Don’t beat yourself up if you’ve fallen off the wagon. Listen to your body, take some time to figure out what it needs and remember that tomorrow is new day. Do what you can to make the best food choices for you and your family (if that means having gelato for dinner, then do it!) so that you not only enjoy the vacation, but so you can also prevent those post-vacation blues when you return to reality.
What tips and tricks to you have in your back-pocket to keep you on-track while travelling?