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  • Writer's pictureEloise Palmateer, RDN, LD

Keep Nutrition on Track While Traveling

Updated: Apr 16, 2021

Whether you're going on a road trip, taking a train or flying by plane, let's face it - keeping your nutrition on track while traveling is tricky business! Below are 5 tips to set you up for success while in transit.

1. Keep consistent wherever possible. If you can help it, have your regular morning breakfast before leaving the house. If there are certain times you usually have meals and/or snacks, do your best to stick to that structure. This will help prevent the all-or-nothing, all-bets-are-off mentality we can develop around food behaviors when things feel out of our control.

2. Stay hydrated. People often avoid drinking water while traveling to limit trips to the bathroom. But, I urge you to consider the cost-to-benefit ratio here! Dehydration leads to fatigue, causes dry eyes and blurred vision, increases the risk of developing UTIs, and it makes us feel peckish, wanting to snack more. Our bodies often confuse thirst with hunger, so even if we just recently ate but we're not well-hydrated, we'll have a harder time tossing the chips to the back seat. Try packing a reusable water bottle, a bottle or can of sparkling water, or if you're driving - consider keeping a case of waters or seltzers in the car.

3. Pack snacks! Without planning ahead and bringing healthy foods to munch on in the car, plane, bus or train, you'll end up in a position where you have to make food decisions on the fly, and likely at a gas station or rest stop. Selecting snacks ahead allows you to think these things through further and opt for items that will better align with you health goals. Make a trip to the grocery store or place an order on Amazon a few days before you leave. Here are some travel-friendly ideas to grab (notice they're mostly all single-serve to build in portion control):

4. Plan your meals ahead. In a land of gas stations, rest stops, and airport terminals, finding a healthy meal can feel nearly impossible. However, having only fast food options available doesn't have to mean you're stuck with a burger and fries. Here are some ideas for places to stop and "health-ifying" your FF order:

  • Build your own smoothie at Tropical Smoothie Cafe or Smoothie King. Specify that you only want the ingredients you list out for them to avoid creepy pumps of syrup or other mysterious additives being snuck in.

  • Order a lettuce wrap or salad. When sitting all day and expending very little energy, your calorie and carbohydrate needs will be far lower than usual. Skipping the wrap, rice, or bread is a great way to adapt to this. Many FF chains like Chik-Fil-A, Subway, Five Guys, and Chipotle offer their sandwiches and other menu items in a lettuce wrap or on a bed of greens.

5. Strive for progress, not perfection! Many of the clients I work with have type-A personalities and thrive with structure and routine. It's OKAY to get thrown off from your normal routine here and there - life happens. Be forgiving, and instead of beating yourself up over having a less-than-perfect day, channel your energy into thinking about how you'll pick things back up the next day.

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