Vacations and trips are meant to relax you, not stress you out. If healthy eating is top of mind, here are a few tips to help you relax and prioritize your fun.
If you’re planning to spend an extended time away from home, you may be thinking about the best ways to maintain your usual eating habits while traveling or eating out.
While enjoying yourself on vacation without guilt should be the goal, it doesn’t mean you have to default to an “anything goes” mentality.
Rather, you can make choices based on what you have available, and do a bit of proactive planning to nourish your body in a way that makes your body feel good. Here are a few ways to take the guesswork out of feeling satisfied, healthy, and ready to jump into the next fun vacation activity.
1. Eat slowly.
Try to put your utensils down between bites. Really taste your food. Enjoy your company. Take sips of water every now and then.
2. Eat until you are satisfied. Not full or stuffed.
Despite what your parents told you when you were young, there is absolutely no reason you need to go and finish everything on your plate. There are to-go bags and boxes for a reason. Take leftovers home and save them for a ready-to-eat meal or snack later.
3. If you’re not really, truly, physically hungry, then don’t eat.
How do you know if you’re physically hungry? Use a hunger scale of 1 to 10 to assess yourself. This one can be tough for many, because so many of our social engagements are centered around food and we live in a culture of snacking. No one wants to sit at a dinner table and not eat. If you know you have a planned meal out coming up or you’re traveling with others and eating with a group, this can be especially challenging. However, using the hunger scale throughout the day can help you:
- Not overeat at other meals
- Not snack between meals if you’re not truly hungry
- Skip appetizers if you’re not really feeling it
4. Consider what makes a meal balanced…
And then find a dish that offers all of the following:
- Colorful vegetables
- Lean protein
- Healthy fats
- Whole food carbohydrates
However, even if you can’t, don’t sweat it. Save it for the next meal, and enjoy what you can in the moment.
5. Stay hydrated.
Whether you’re enjoying coffee, tea, or an adult beverage, always ask for water or carry a water bottle with you wherever you go. Staying hydrated will help your body distinguish between hunger and thirst. It will also ensure you feel your best and aid in regular digestion while you travel. Nobody likes traveler’s constipation…it’s just not fun.
6. Keep some healthy staples on hand.
Whether you’re traveling by plane, car, boat, or just going to visit family or friends for a weekend, having some go-to snack or meal options on hand is a great way to ensure you have some foods available that help your body feel good.
Easy foods to travel with include:
- Hard boiled eggs
- Cut up fresh fruits and veggies
- Kale chips
- Dried beans (chickpeas, edamame)
- Protein bars like The Perfect Bar or Quest Bars
- Greek yogurt
- Plain oatmeal packets
7. Go to the grocery store!
Almost every destination has some sort of local market or grocery store. When you get to your destination, find the nearest one and stock up on food that you love to enjoy at home. Find a fun new fruit, vegetable or other new, fresh food local to the place you’re visiting. Pick up some prepared foods if you need to or don’t have access to a kitchen. If you don’t have a fridge, consider getting a small cooler and ice packs or request a mini-fridge in your hotel room.
Remember, eating while traveling doesn’t need to be complicated. It’s OK to experience and enjoy the food and culture of new places and not feel deprived. However, they do require a small amount of effort to stay conscious of your choices and how they make your body feel.
Use your mindful habits as a guide to enjoy new and interesting foods, while keeping your body feeling happy and healthy. Focus on creating more memories, and remember,
Variety is the spice of life.
Adapted from the original article.
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Jeanne Reilly, MS, RD is a San Diego-based Registered Dietitian empowering parents to help their children develop lifelong healthy relationships with food and their bodies. She is dedicated to helping parents overcome the confusion and challenges of society-imposed rules in family nutrition and body image. Learn more and connect with her at Jeanne Reilly, RD.