The Sneakiest Snacks of a Traveling Nutritionist

Healthiest food choices while on the road can have big payoffs for long-term well-being and resilience

As the weather warms and spring sets in, my mind wanders off to vacation plans.

I start to get the travel bug, wishing I still had a week off for spring break. I may not, but millions of Americans do — and runways and roadways are full of travelers taking full advantage of their vacation time.

If you are lucky enough to be going on a little holiday this spring, or even just traveling for work, eating well can be hard to do if you aren’t prepared. It seems that junk food outnumbers healthy choices in the airport or train station, and road trip options may be limited to fast food off the interstate. Not ideal.

Taking snacks or prepping meals may be your best bet for eating healthy on the go. But let’s be honest: It can be inconvenient to bring food along. It has to be nonperishable or toted in a small (TSA-compliant) cooler, and do you really want this to be your carry-on? So much to think about.

The good news is that healthy snacks that don’t require refrigeration do exist. Moreover, there are great grabs that contain protein, the most satiating macronutrient, to help hold you over until you can find a full meal. And to combat pesky pipes associated with air travel dehydration, it’s never a bad idea to sip more fluids, nosh a little fiber, and watch the salt — to keep things moving.

So what fits the bill?

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Here, road warriors and frequent fliers, are go-to travel snacks:

Nut and dried fruit mixes. Trail mix offers a great combo of protein, healthy fats, and fiber for a balanced snack that keeps you full. You can either make it ahead of time and pack it in individual serving size baggies, or buy pre-made (and sometimes pre-portioned) varieties. Just watch out for sodium in store-bought mixes.

Jerky and meat sticks. Of course, these are chock-full of protein, and notoriously great to throw in your bag. Be sure to look for brands that don’t have any additives. The New Primal has both jerky and meat sticks that are free of refined sugars and offer an assortment of craveable flavors to keep it interesting.

Protein bars. These can be lifesavers, but with all the different brands out there, picking a healthy one can be confusing. Make sure to choose one with a short list of ingredients that you can pronounce. For a snack, try to choose bars that are 200 calories or less.

Peanut butter. One of my favorite plant proteins is peanut butter. It is full of fiber, does not have to be refrigerated, and comes in handy travel packs that are easily spreadable.

It also pairs well with some of nature’s best dippers: apples, bananas, crackers, and celery sticks.

Related: Five Ways to Eat Peanut Butter and Still Stay Slim

Yogurt cup. These aren’t the best to pack from home, since they spoil, but they’re easily found in airports and even some gas stations. Be sure not to wait too long between stuffing it in your bag and consuming it, or your trip won’t be much fun. Avoid varieties with considerable added sugar; if possible, mix in some fruit for natural sweetness and fiber.

Plain Greek yogurt is a top pick of mine for more protein and less sugar.

Hummus. This is another one that can be tricky since it requires refrigeration. However, travel packs of hummus and pretzels are sold in many places and offer a nice blend of protein and carbs to hold you over. If available, scoop with veggie sticks like carrots for more fiber.

Related: Eating Well to Live Longer and Better

Regardless of where you’re going on your next vacation and how you’re getting there, the best thing you can do for your health is to plan ahead. Don’t find yourself stranded in the airport gift shop reaching for the chocolate bar or sour candy; listen to your body and pack what you need before you go!

You’ll thank yourself later.

Jamie Johnson is a registered dietician nutritionist in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. More information about The New Primal can be found here

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