How to Eat Healthy (-ish) while Traveling
3 Minute Read: How to find healthy travel snacks, meal plan and mindfully indulge while traveling.
Travel can be a brilliant way to open our mind, spirit and perspective. It helps us see the world from a place of possibility and wonder.
It can also challenge our commitment to self-care when we need it most. In order to enjoy our adventures, we need to be healthy and keep our immune system up while traveling.
Whether you’re traveling solo, or with a tour group, stay balanced with these 5 Healthy Eating Tips for Travellers.
As a Chinese Medicine doctor and eating and health coach, I often get questions about staying healthy when traveling or eating out…and about indulging during special times.
There’s not one “right” answer, of course – it comes down to tradeoffs and weighing what’s most important to you, right now (and that may change, over time).
For me, I eat out very rarely. When I do, I generally stay primal (along the lines of a bun-less burger, steak or fish with veggies) but will perhaps have whatever dessert I wish (whether primal or not).
When I’m on vacation, I eat plant-forward paleo-primal all day (which means lunch, since I have a “bulletproof breakfast” and never snack). Then, I might indulge in something outside those parameters that “seems worth it” at dinner.
I’m indulging, yes…but mindfully, selectively, and in a way that won’t leave me feeling horrible (physically or otherwise) the day after.
To me, at this point in my life, feeling horrible the next day just isn’t worth it. Even the word “indulge” feels off, because I find my everyday primal fare totally delicious and indulgent too!
Don’t hate me, but after a long journey with health and eating, I’ve come to enjoy and prefer eating to feel better! Plus, it's sustainable – meaning, the enjoyment can continue!
Plus, one of the cool, fun things about eating healthy say, oh, 90 percent of the time, is we tend to become quite resilient in the face of occasional indulgences, missteps or full-on dietary disasters;).
Another thing is, even if you stay full-on “healthy” when eating out, it will rarely feel the same as eating real, whole food at home.
A big part of this is because many restaurants and hot bars use cheap, inflammatory oils (like canola) plus extra sugar and additives (in sauces, for instance). As a result, you may still feel “off” the next day after eating out. But…once in a while, for most people, it’s no big deal.
That said, healthy, real-food choices are usually available wherever we’re traveling – if we choose to see them;).
Thankfully, this is increasingly obvious, now that healthy lifestyle is “trending.” So just be honest. If you’re choosing the thing, you’re choosing it.
There’s no “good” or “bad” – just tradeoffs. Be clear what those are, own it, and go for it! For your next vacay or holiday, try this…
5 Healthy Eating Tips for Travellers
1. Create your healthy eating priorities before you go.
See that you have a plan and priorities. Bring attention to any welcome changes you’ve made and seen lately. See how they feel for you. See that they are worth it.
2. Do some meal planning research.
Where might you eat out or buy food that has paleo or primal options and healthy snacks? Check menus online and decide what you’ll order beforehand. I usually find searching “farm-to-table” helpful.
3. Stay balanced while traveling by planning for “indulgence.”
Really plan this out. Cake once a day? Something different? Pick and choose what’s most worth it to you and go with a plan. When you do indulge, do it with mindfulness, enjoyment and zero guilt.
4. Indulge in experience.
Experiencing another place or culture isn’t just about experiencing food or culinary traditions. Savour the experience and connection with self and others as you explore a new place. Make that, rather than the cake, your sweetness.
5. Perhaps most important, remember that it’s just one night, weekend or week.
Don’t let any choices (worth it or not) derail your wider efforts. Just be honest, show up fully for yourself, and reset. The welcome outcomes you’ve seen previously will return and continue.
Offer yourself some breathing room…and grace.
Then, to reset, two things.
Start simple: Go slow. Move each day. Sleep eight hours each night. Return to the basics in terms of eating real, whole, simple foods...and your why of living healthy.
Ask yourself: How do you want to feel? What choices support that? What choices make you feel good?
If your vacation or holiday has been extra-indulgent, things may not return to “normal” overnight. That’s okay.
If you stick with real, whole, simple food for just one week, you'll already feel totally different. And way better.