Traveling I feel like can throw a wrench in anyones attempt to “eat healthy.” No matter what your “healthy” is, we all find ourselves in those situations where we are rushing through the airport, halfway through a 6 hour car ride in the middle of the highway, or in a completely unfamiliar city where we decided to stop and our stomach is just waiting to be fed and we are exhausted . As your stomach growls, angry at the fact that you’ve kept it waiting this long, you reach for the closest thing in site; a bag of chips, a pastry from the cafe at the rest stop, a coffee and some mixed nuts covered in a honey glaze with M&M’s and candy coated nuts, a french fry from the fast food place across from the gas station; you name it, it’s going in your stomach. Trust me, I’ve done it too, multiple times. As I get ready for spring break that is just around the corner, I promised myself again that I would not even let this situation occur. I have to admit, over the past few years I have gotten much better at planning ahead, packing easy snacks in my purse or suitcase, and preparing for the worst possible “food” situations that I could find myself in.
Here are some of my personal strategies for traveling prepared. I find that I am also in a much better mood when I have something on hand that I actually enjoy and know is going to satisfy me and tend to enjoy my travels much more. Happy traveling!
- Pre-bag individual servings of trail mix. Yes there are plenty of trail mix options in gas stations and rest stops, but have you ever actually read the food labels on some of them? A majority of the packaged mini bags of trail mix are either pack with candy or chocolate, have some sort of sugary glaze on them, or are majority peanuts, which nothing against peanuts, but out of all the nuts out there they couldn’t pick something with a little more nutrient density? Another reason why I love creating my own trail mix is because I can put all my favorite things into it in the quantities that I want them. My go-to favorite combo: 8-10 raw almonds, 10-12 mini pretzels, 1/4 cup Kashi Heart to Heart Warm Cinnamon cereal, and about a tablespoon of raisins.
- Pack some protein. Whether that be mixed nuts, a protein bar (I personally have a new obsession with Quest bars, 20g of protein per bar), a half of a peanut butter sandwich, a cheese stick, an individual container of Greek yogurt, protein is what will ultimately give you a sense of satiety and keep you from going back into your bag for another snack 1 hour later. Almost all of these items are also portable and easily stored in your bag or suitcase (except maybe the yogurt!).
- Bring on the fruits and veggies. Sometimes when I am in the car for a long period of time or am sitting in the airport during a layover and have something greasy, I end up feeling completely awful. For some reason, these scenarios make that grease even more intolerable for me, and I end up angry with myself that I even ate whatever it was that I chose. Fruits such as apples, mini oranges, and pears are easy to travel with and help give me a refreshing little burst of flavor mid-afternoon when I am ready for something to eat and don’t have a lot of options. Veggies such as carrots, raw broccoli, or cauliflower are also easy to pack away, provide a crunch, and give me a little extra fiber that helps fill me up and makes me feel as if I made a good choice as I am sitting in the airport starring at a million and one different fast food options that I could have chosen instead.
- Pack snacks the night before you travel. For me at least, the day I am traveling I always seem extremely rushed in the morning. Nothing ever goes as planned, and I always seem to be cut short of time or rushing out the door at the last minute, no matter how much pre-planning or packing I do. This is why I like to pack my snacks at night. Unless a snack consists of something that needs to be refrigerated, I bag up whatever it is that I choose to bring and put it in my bag the night before so that as I am rushing out the door the following day, food is that last thing that I actually have to worry about!
- Pre-packaged oatmeal is one of my best travel buddies. Some people can’t stand the taste of pre-packaged oatmeal. I happen to really like Quaker Oats Weight Controlled Oatmeal, and I always shove a few packets in my suitcase when I am about to travel. They are easy, can be cooked with water, fill me up in the morning, and give me a quick go-to breakfast just incase I walk downstairs to a spread of bacon and eggs (I’m vegetarian and have never been a huge egg person). In my opinion, it is better to come prepared and explain to your host or others around you later then sit hungry all morning!