Travelling can be a lovely experience but it can also be a headache at times.
All too often that headache is due to a lack of food, too much food, or the wrong type of food.
Food is for so much more than satisfying a sweet tooth, calming a rumbling stomach, or experiencing a new culture.
Food has the ability to transform our minds and bodies for the better or for the worse.
What is healthy eating?
There are so many different ways to define what “healthy eating” is but for the purposes of this article let’s define it as:
Eating foods that will keep you energised and your hunger satisfied throughout the day without leaving you sleepy, bloated or uncomfortable.
What are the benefits of eating healthy while travelling?
While travelling, a focus on eating healthier will make your experience more enjoyable, productive and affordable. Here are just a few positive changes you’ll experience by choosing to eat healthy.
- You will feel more energised!
- You are less likely to experience an afternoon “crash” or feel the need for a nap.
- Eating healthy foods at the appropriate times help to offset the effects of jet lag.
- You will experience improved moods.
- Despite common belief, you can actually save money by choosing to eat healthy.
There are many aspects of travelling that can make eating healthy seem like a daunting, difficult and sometimes impossible task.
En route to our destinations we’re limited to aeroplane meals, overpriced fast food and convenient store snacks.
At our destination we decide to treat ourselves to a nice, multi-course meal. Which is wonderful!
Except that we end up doing it three times a day over the course of an entire trip.
We feel a few pounds heavier and our wallets feel unpleasantly lighter.
Travel snacks and quick meals
The key to healthy eating while travelling is to know that not every meal needs to be at a restaurant or a fast food stand.
By preparing ahead or taking a quick trip to the grocery store when you arrive, you can save yourself time, money and a few unneeded calories.
Below you’ll find some of the easiest, quickest, healthy snacks for travelling…
On the plane, in the car, waiting on a bus… travelling can be incredibly long and boring.
When we’re bored we get the urge to fill ourselves up on snacks.
Having a variety of pre-purchased travel snacks on hand, you avoid the dreaded impulse purchases that usually contain a lot of unhealthy sugar and salt.
Consider these healthy and filling snacks…
While it’s easiest to just toss an orange or an apple in your bag, chances are you won’t eat it.
But, if you take a few minutes ahead of time to peel and slice your fruit into bite size pieces, you’ll be more likely to eat it.
Perfect travel fruits include: Apples, orange, grapes, and bananas.
Like fruit, veggies may take just a few minutes of preparation, but their nutrients and fiber make them perfect for healthy snacking.
Perfect travel vegetables include: Carrots (baby carrots are super fast and easy!), celery, broccoli, snap peas and cherry tomatoes.
Mixed nuts are great if you simply have to have that salty taste to satisfy your munchies.
Nuts are more nutritional, packed with energy and far more filling than a bag of chips.
Cheese and crackers:
Individually wrapped cheeses and a packet of whole grain crackers are perfect for travelling. They’re filling, stay fresh and are substantial enough to fill in for a missed meal.
Even if you wanted to spend the time and money on restaurants for three meals a day, there’s not always the time!
There’s a constant need for food on the go which is why fast food is so popular.
Below are a few tips to ensure that your meals are quick, healthy and, when need be, mobile!
Sandwiches and wraps:
Even if you don’t have time to prepare yours at home, you can find sandwiches and wraps anywhere from the convenience store, full-sized grocer, or take-away from a cafe.
Just remember to keep it small, light on the mayo, whole grain and heavy on the veggies!
Low sodium, canned, vegetable soups are a great way to squeeze in a quick meal.
Soup can easily and quickly be heated in the microwave for a quick blast of nutrition.
Some soups are even packaged in microwaveable and travel friendly cups, making it easy for soup on the go (or if you don’t have a bowl)!
Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day. It gets our metabolism going, wakes us up (greatly aided by the morning coffee) and fuels us for the day to come.
This meal is particularly important while travelling across time zones as it helps to reset our internal clocks.
What to eat
As tempting and easy as that donut may be, breakfast is not the time!
Besides being virtually void of any nutrients, it will make you feel sluggish rather than energised.
What constitutes as a healthy breakfast?
Consider trying to squeeze a few food groups into your breakfast.
Proteins, fruits, dairy and whole grains are an excellent way to start your day.
Try these cheap healthy meals….
- Yogurt, fruit, and granola
- Whole grain cereal (hot or cold) with fruit
- Whole wheat pancakes with fruit and eggs
- Whole grain toast, eggs and a side of fruit
- Fruit and/or vegetable smoothie
Where to get it
Many of the foods and meals listed above are easily and affordably found at grocery and/or convenience stores.
While purchasing single servings might be more expensive than you’re used to when at home, a packet of microwaveable oatmeal or a yogurt fruit cup will be much more affordable than room service, the hotel breakfast, or a restaurant.
What not to eat
Lunch and dinner are so diverse that it would be nearly impossible to name all of the healthy options out there, more simply put would be what not to eat. Avoid these foods…
- Fried Foods
- Creamy Foods (cream or starch based)
- Large portions
- Multiple courses – skip the starter or order a salad.
- Desserts are best avoided.
- Bread – Restaurants love to tempt you with free bread. It’s never whole grain and it’s always slathered in butter. Pass on the bread!
- Foods/meals without varying colour – Colour means variety, which generally means multiple food groups! If your entire meal is in shades of yellow, gold and brown it’s probably not that healthy
Tips for eating cheap and healthily at restaurants
The fun meal:
The first and most important tip for eating at restaurants when travelling is, if you have to, have only ONE SMALL “fun” meal per day.
Food and travel go hand in hand. To eat foreign cuisine, is to experience foreign culture and we certainly don’t want to miss out on those experiences!
One small fun meal per day will ensure that you don’t over-indulge in unhealthy meals but does not prevent you from experiencing new things.
Having said this, the best cultural dishes are generally made with fresh, healthy ingredients anyway so seek out those sorts of meals!
Unless you’re enjoying your fun meal for the day, order water. End of story!
It’s tough to consume enough water while travelling.
Water is generally free in most restaurants so fill your boots (or glasses)!
The starter menu:
Take full advantage of starter menus.
The portions are often much smaller than mains, they arrive at your table much quicker, they’re often more delicious and usually a lot cheaper!
A salad a day:
If you find yourself in a restaurant more than once on any given day, for a cheap healthy meal that won’t leave you bloated, tired and broke… order a salad.
Whether you find a small dinner salad or a larger, more elaborate salad, these will still frequently be cheaper than other mains and far healthier.
Ask for the dressing on the side or order it with simple oil and vinegar.
You can do it!
Eating healthy while travelling doesn’t have to be difficult.
With a small amount of preparation and a good amount of resolve, your travels can be enjoyable, productive and rewarding experiences.
By eating healthy you’re setting yourself up to feel your best – increased stamina, great moods and a healthier bank account to boot!
So pack your bags and your healthy travel snacks and hit the road knowing that this next adventure will be a great (healthy) one.
Please let us know your travel snack ideas using the comments box below!