Traveling seems to be a time when people fall off the wagon in terms of self-care and eating well — whether they’re driving or taking trains, planes or buses to see friends and loved ones during this holiday season or far beyond it.
The good news is that there are many easy and convenient foods available that not only taste great but are healthy, too. For those who prefer to enjoy their holiday travel or vacation time without cooking or packing a snack bag, there are many healthy options to choose from when dining out.
The choice is yours these days — here are tips on how to make the best snack choices while on the road.
1.) Pay attention to what you’re eating for breakfast while you’re traveling for the holidays. Many people tend to load up on calorie dense foods from the start. Skip those 1,000-calorie breakfasts of pastries, bacon and fried French toast — and go for far better options such as Greek yogurt, oatmeal with fresh fruit and nuts, wholegrain bread with nut butter, or hardboiled eggs. Save your indulgences for special holiday dinners and drinks.
2.) Try this great go-to snack (that easily turns into a meal while traveling): pistachios. They’re full of the winning combination: protein, fiber, and heart-healthy fats that keep your energy up and hunger satiated. Because there is no need for refrigeration, pistachios are great for transporting.
One brand, Setton Farms, makes 100 percent all-natural Pistachio Chewy Bites, combining nutrient-dense pistachios with antioxidant-rich dried fruits that satisfy a sweet tooth without compromising the waistline. The company also makes 100-calorie pistachio snack packs that are perfect for on-the-go eating and portion control.
3.) Fresh fruits with their own skin are a convenient, nutritious on-the-road snack. Some of my top-choice suggestions include bananas, apples, oranges, avocados, grapefruits and grapes. These fruits keep your immunity strong and provide fiber needed to keep your digestive system working well. Not only is fruit healthy, but it offers an easy way to hydrate your body.
4.) Don’t let dining out sabotage your health goals. There are many healthy options on the menu these days, but it’s up to you to make the choice when ordering. A few tips I recommend regardless of your order: dressing and sauce on the side; ask for broiled, steamed or grilled; skip the bread, rice or pasta; and ask for extra veggies or a side salad.
5.) Drink more water. This sounds simple enough, yet most of us are not doing it. Many times, our bodies mistake dehydration for hunger. By the time we feel thirsty, our bodies are already depleted of water. When traveling, our body clock is usually off. Water keeps us balanced and energized, and helps to flush out our system. Carry an environmentally safe, reusable water bottle and fill it up at restaurants to save money while traveling.
6.) It’s OK to indulge in special local treats (especially at this time of year) while traveling; however, remember the 80/20 rule. Most of the time, aim to fuel your body with nutrient-dense whole foods that make us feel good. Twenty percent of the time, allow for splurges. Whether it be ice cream from a local creamier for dessert, or a craft beer from the brewery — it doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing deal.
Choose one thing a day you want to feast on. Eat it, savor it and move on.
7.) Pay attention to the timing of your meals. It is important to eat frequently and in smaller amounts, as this will keep your body burning calories throughout the day. Spacing out meals this way will signal the brain that the food supply is plentiful and cause your body to use the fuel up quickly.
When you skip meals or wait more than four hours between them, your body holds onto the calories, thinking food is in limited supply. This also applies to healthy foods, which can turn into fat if not eaten at the right times.
Sara Siskind, a certified nutritional health counselor, is founder of Hands On Healthy cooking classes for adults, families and teens and is based in New York. She has dedicated her career to educating clients on how food and lifestyle choices affect health.