Healthy Eating while Traveling

Healthy Eating while Traveling Recipe

Eating healthy while traveling is an ongoing challenge for me. I'm not a light packer to begin with, and my attempts to squirrel various snacks into every pocket of my suitcase and carry-on(s) are met with varying degrees of success. There is a point when my laptop trumps a 12-pack of oatmeal packets. Apparently quite a few of you have similar troubles. I know because you email me about it. For example, the following email showed up in my in-box not too long ago. Written by a hotel-hopping business traveler with no kitchen at his disposal...

Dear Heidi, I work in real estate consulting. This allows me frequent trips to foodie paradises such as Shreveport, Louisiana, and the middle of Nebraska. One can go days without seeing anything as quaint as an apple. I am searching for a healthy way to eat while traveling for business.

Cooking, the one true way to ensure healthy eating, is out for obvious reasons. Often one cannot get to a grocery store, so buying simple whole foods is out too. Even eating salad isn't an option; McDonald's surpasses all measures of common decency with salads that have more fat than Big Macs do.

At this point I'm about ready to do something weird like pack most of my food as if I were going camping. My question/challenge to you is this: what solutions are available for the health-savvy business traveler other than subsisting solely on McDonald's yogurt parfaits and apple pies?

Regards, C.S.D.

While I have a few strategies I deploy, I still have plenty to learn on this front, so I thought I'd ask you to offer up your favorite tips for eating healthy whole traveling. Try to limit yourself to your all-time favorite tip (or two). My tips...

- Good airplane food: If I start off eating poorly at the beginning of a trip, it can be downhill from there. Things are usually hectic around here the day (or two) before leaving on a trip, and sometimes I flat out don't feel like cooking. But I do like having good (substantial) food in flight, and I like to kick off a trip on the right foot. Lately I'll bake off two Amy's Indian Spinach Tofu Wraps, let them cool to room temperature, wrap them in parchment paper, and then bag them in plastic. Think Indian burrito - it's a whole wheat tortilla, a bunch of tofu, spinach and spices in one compact package - really tasty. I just eat a half a burrito whenever I'm hungry until I run out.

- BYOF: If I'm traveling domestically, I pack three apples and a pound of nuts or toasted pumpkin seeds for snacking in my carry-on, and one box of cereal in my suitcase. Herein lies the catch - I like to eat cereal with plain yogurt (not the artificially sweetened stuff offered at just about every breakfast buffet I've encountered). I can usually buy the plain yogurt at a corner grocery, BUT I've been in plenty of hotels that don't have refrigerators, so there have been times when I fill up the sink with ice to keep the yogurt cold.

- Just add water products: They're great in a pinch. Look for the ones with natural ingredients. I can always find hot water.

- If you are on a road trip, pack a camping stove: This means even if you are staying in hotels or motels. Wayne and I go on lots of road trips, and we like to pull over to various parks and beaches for lunch/dinner. We'll cook something up on our little stove and be on our way. Makes us less reliant on eating "out" for every meal.

Don't get me wrong, I love to experience local foods ingredients and inspired cooking - but anyone who travels extensively knows there can be long stretches between healthy meals. These a just a few fall-back tactics I've come to rely on.

Ok, your turn - favorite healthy travel eating tips...

Wayne took the opening photo and was nice enough to let me use it here.

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Comments

  • Although apples and water are great, I don't know how realistic that is for the average person, and I don't think that candy on the pillow is going to put anyone over the edge....sorry Amy, that's just my personal opinion as I'm a nutritionist that despises apples: ) Being from the Bay Area we are certainly spoiled with food and you quickly realize this when you enter one of the many towns or cities in another part of the country, saturated with strip malls. Every chain restaurant you can imagine, filled with gluttonous menus and over-sized portions. Basically, it's really difficult to avoid eating out or being faced with unhealthy options when traveling. Some tips I tell my clients for eating out: -avoid the fried food. Go for baked, broiled, roasted, grilled or anything besides fried to save yourself hundreds of calories -This may seem unrealistic for some but seriously ask for a box when you order your food (so you can save half for later if you have storage options on the road) or literally put a napkin over what you're not going to eat or when you're beginning to feel full so you stop picking (and the server/busser takes it faster). The portions today are HUGE and unless you want to eat that 2,000+ calorie, "healthy" salad you gotta cut your portions somehow. -Try to choose menu options that are based around vegetables like a stir-fry, salad, etc. (like many of the dishes found on Heidi's website; ) All the snack ideas that people have mentioned are perfect for holding you over when you don't have access to more food options such as in the airport or on the road. Luckily today, many of the fast food restaurants even have healthier options (portions still need work) it just comes down to the choices we make and knowing when to stop. Slow down and don't just eat to eat. Eat to enjoy and really taste your food.

    Tara
  • Coucous has saved the day for us many times. Even a can of tuna, served over the couscous can be real treat. (Remove the bag of couscous from the outer box to save room; you can then put all of them in a heavy duty plastic bag.) I also travel with a plastic bowl, can opener, and knife (in checked luggage). I've also found that hard cheese (eg Parmesan or cheddar) will keep for a l-o-n-g time without refrigeration.

    julie
  • On the plane I like to pack a small container of hummus and some carrots and/or whole wheat pita, and maybe an apple. I always bring some nuts and dried fruits and like to pack some organic natural nut butter and whole grain crackers.

    Annie
  • Although I have been known to survive for multiple days on these things-you do tire of them. I bring small bags of Kashi cereal and various nuts, whey protien powder which can be mixed with water or any kind of milk (very high in good aminos and protien) small containers of almond or soy milk and fruit (also consider avocados and tomatoes that way if you bring bread you could have a sandwich!). Enjoy :)

    Cyndi
  • I really enjoy this site for its healthy recipes, yummy pictures and great ideas from the comment section. I just got back from traveling to Houston and New Orleans. I flew and even did a little Greyhound. The snack machines are gruesomely lacking in nutrition. I pack raw almonds and dried figs for quick and sustained energy, (figs are high energy food and alkalinizing)--but my honest personal favorite are lemon-cranberry snack bars from my own Shaklee store. They also have chocolate and peanut butter, and really great protein meal bars that came in handy. I like their purity, protein and nutrient values, and convenience. When I have the time, I'm going to make the energy bars posted on this site with the brown rice syrup. Right now, it's catchup time, getting ready for winter.

    Pamela
  • Eating healthy means living more happy years of your lives.:) Take care! www.foodista.com

    Mrs.Sound
  • I try to stay in hotels that offer a full breakfast. I save the fruit and ceral for later.

    Susan
  • if i have a full day of flying with me, this is what i pack - -a couple of hard-boiled eggs (grab those little salt packets at the airport) -a bag of those pecan nut crisps -a chunk of cheddar, cut into a bunch of little slices (i used to bring spreadable goat cheese, but airport security always gets confused by it & i've had to throw away before) -a bag of baby carrots -slices of cucumber -an empty water bottle to fill at the airport -bag of nuts -dried fruit so obviously, the first thing to eat is the egg, followed by the cheese & crisps. the other things last a long time, and can get me through the rest of my trip. sometimes i also make a huge batch of healthy granola for a 5 day stay somewhere, and i'll buy those little boxes of rice milk that don't need to be refrigerated plus some bananas, so i always at least have a healthy breakfast

    natasha
  • The coffee makers in hotel rooms are a great source for instant hot water. I run one cup through to be sure it doesn't have any coffee grinds in it, then use the next batch of hot water for oatmeal. I always travel with a box of granola bars (and one with me for in between meetings to prevent quick unhealthy snacks from vending machines), and find a market/grocery store as soon as I check into my hotel, no matter how busy I am. Stock up on healthier dressing packets (like oil and vinegar) at the salad bar next time you're at your grocery store. Also good spots for healthier food if you're in a city on the coast- fish markets down by the water. Sushi also always makes me feel better when I travel- the simplicity and freshness of it is often a relief after big meal after big meal.

    Katie
  • Just a quick note about flying with water: I am often frustrated with the fairly recent security measures that forbid passengers to bring their own water into the terminals. I always bring an empty water bottle with me when I fly. Then I can fill it up whenever I want. I stay hydrated, save money, and help the earth by not throwing away once-used plastic bottles.

    Kathleen
  • these are great ideas. i know i'm traveling a lot more for business in the next month or so, and i always end up starving in a hotel room with nothing but snickers, or the other crap they have at the mini-bar. water is key, but i like the ideas about nuts, trail mix, and dried fruits.....i have such a small suitcase, not sure i'll have the space for pb&j but it's not a bad idea!!!!

    cassy
  • I like carrying the vegan "Primal Strips" that are VERY light and small but have 6-10 grams of protein. Weight and size are a big issue when flying. This past year I have become lactose intolerant which makes traveling even harder. I know carry powered soy milk with me so I can have milk in my tea, even if there isn't a refrigerator. Trader Joe's sells containers (in the vitamin section) that are inexpensive. TJ also carries vacuum packed packages of brown rice that don't need refrigeration. Add that to some of the vacuum packed indian curries and you have a simple, quick meal that is easy to carry.

    Karen
  • Just a caution about flying with a camping stove: you can't. My partner and I just flew to Oregon and planned on cooking with his stove. United made us abandon the gas as its illegal to bring it aboard.

    Lindsay
  • My biggest thing for travelling lately (on flights) has been to bring an EMPTY bottle of water, then fill it at a fountain. This helps me be less tempted on the flight to get a soda and saves me the $3. The other thing I do is check to see if the hotel I am staying at serves breakfast and try to find out what it is. Most of the business hotels also have some sort of fitness center, even if only a treadmill/bike and a TV, which helps stay healthier.

    Ariane
  • The stewards are your friends! On recent flights, I've been direct and clear with the air stewards and they are always helpful. I usually ask for lots of water (rather than a 4 oz plastic cup, often they'll bring a whole bottle) and when the snacks come around, I'll ask for several bags of the healthiest option (nuts, dried fruit, depending on the airline). And finally, when stuck in airports, ask the pilots and stewards where they eat- they'll usually point you to the freshest, tastiest option in the terminal. They've tried them all more than once, after all. Happy travels, all.

    Christine
  • I recently took a week-long business trip (my first!), and knowing I might rarely have time to venture out for tasty, healthy, vegetarian meals (I'm a lactard, and wouldn't want to live on bagels and cheese sandwiches anyway) I packed like I was feeding a tentful of cub scouts. I was mostly concerned about protein and fruit: trail mix - I made my own with the nuts and dried fruits I like - cheaper and tastier (and healthier - no sugar!) than the store- or airport-bought kind. Green Plus protein bars - with whey protein so it's easily assimilated, plus natural and vitaminy things, I think these are the healthiest protein bars out there. They also are a decent sub for a small meal. dried fruit - organic/unsweetened mango and figs I've also been known to pack a couple of pb&j sandwiches - even my sprouted-grain bread beats the white-flour stuff for - and this was my priority - not feeling totally gross.

    Jaime
  • Lara bars are portable, filling, and delicious. PB&J on graham crackers is also shelf-stable, easy, and yummy. Bringing an electric teakettle makes just-add-water stuff easier. And small containers of salt, pepper, and hot sauce can make quick grocery store meals much more appetizing! Even a little bottle of oil-and-vinegar dressing will make McDonald's salads much healthier.

    Jen
  • I travel a lot and almost all of my trips are overseas (longhaul). I have several strategies: 1. MOST IMPORTANT of all, make sure you buy a BIG (1.5l or 2.0l) bottle of water for the flight. And make sure you drink the entire thing during the course of the flight. If you flight is longer than 8 hours, buy TWO bottles, if necessary. 2. Keep up the hydration levels throughout your trip. 3. Travel with sunflower seeds, flax seeds, etc. These make for excellent snacks. 4. Do not drink alcohol. Or, if you feel you must, stick to white spirits (vodka, gin). And really keep it in moderation. 5. If you're traveling on business, resist all snacks served during meetings. 6. Eat 3 apples a day (if you can), preferably unwaxed. 7. Avoid Starbucks or any place like that for breakfast. Better to have breakfast at the hotel. Go for protein, like oatmeal or a hard boiled egg or cottage cheese (or yoghurt, as long as it's real and not that fat free rubbish). Sprinkle sunflower seeds or flax seeds on your breakfast. 8. Stay away from desserts! 9. Make sure you walk at least 30 minutes every day. 10. When you check in to the hotel, tell the front desk you do NOT want a candy placed on your pillow at night! 11. Avoid fruit juices. Eat the real thing instead. These are somewhat obvious, perhaps. I follow these rules every day and I am doubly careful when I travel. Water is the key and lots of good fiber (from apples or grapefruits).

    amy
  • I like to look for a grocery store instead of a fast food place. Sometimes if you just ask a local, there may be store around the corner. That way I can get a banana, peanut butter, baby carrots, hummus, etc. instead of eating McDonalds. And if I do eat at McDonalds...well...I try to think of it as a useful reminder of why I don't like to do that.

    Michelle @ What Does Your Body Good?
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