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How to indulge yet stay healthy while traveling

How to Indulge, Yet Stay Healthy While Traveling

Note: If you travel often for work and simply want strategies to eat healthy on the road, read here. If you are like me and want to enjoy some great food on vacation, but not feel like you’ve put your healthy habits on the back burner, continue reading. 

How to Stay Healthy Traveling, While Still Indulging I work to travel. Period. When I travel, I actually seek out the best restaurants and bakeries! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve eaten whatever I want for an entire vacation and then wanted to continue to indulge once I’ve got back home into my routine. “Lets just go get pizza tonight because I don’t want to cook.” This is common. When you indulge often, food cravings skyrocket, even when you are back in your normal environment. If I could pinpoint an area where I struggle with nutrition, it is always related to traveling. I’m a foodie at heart. Sometimes the first memory of a trip is simply meals I have eaten!

So, why should you try to stick with your healthy habits throughout your vacation? To keep the momentum going for when you return home. This has been my biggest learning lesson over the years of traveling. I had to start finding workarounds so I could indulge in amazing food, but still keep some healthy habits during the trip. This has helped me return home feeling motivated and ready to get back into my routine instead of wanting to continue to indulge. Here are my strategies!

For Flight Days:

1.) Pack Your Go-To Food

I spent most of the day on the airplane for my recent flight from Seattle to Scotland. To be prepared to stick with my habits, I packed snacks and a full dinner onto the airplane. On my recent trip to NYC, when we landed at 5 PM EST, all I really needed was dinner once I arrived. So, I packed a breakfast and a lunch for the airport. I ate the breakfast scramble as I waited to board my flight and I had my salad on the flight during my normal lunch time. My energy was good, I didn’t feel too full, I consumed at least 5 servings of vegetables and I didn’t arrive to my destination starving wanting to eat whatever was in sight.

Action Steps: Pack Your Most Satisfying Healthy Meal

This is the best way for me to avoid caving on comfort snacks or food at the airport/airplane. You might have go-to healthy, satisfying items in the airport! If so, even better. Some other go-to items I like to pack: chopped celery, carrots or bell peppers, nuts or a RX bar. These work great for shorter flights and I can even save them throughout my trip if I find myself hungry.

My Other Strategies

1.) Make Time for Strength Training in the Morning 

I don’t strength train every day, but I do find a way to move daily. On vacation, on days I don’t strength train, I look to hit at least 15,000 steps. Some days I’m right at it, while others I hit 25,000-30,000. If I have access to a gym, I might do 15-20 minutes of interval training on a bike, elliptical or treadmill at an incline. Keep it short and sweet. My goal with strength training on vacation is to simply keep my momentum going with workouts for when I return home. It helps me maintain my strength while I’m on vacation versus feeling like I’ve taken two steps back. I don’t strive to create a perfect strength workout, but focus on simply doing something.

Action Steps: Look to see if your Hotel Has a Gym.

If not, do you have a gym close to the hotel? When I was in NYC, I found a gym about 10 blocks from my hotel with free access. I was actually able to continue my normal strength routine since I had access to everything I needed. I loved it! In England and Scotland, I didn’t have access to my normal equipment so I put together a basic workout.

Option Two: Pack a Few Go-To Items.

For me, I simply packed my Sling-Band and a few other mini bands. They work great to add more resistance to simple body weight exercises like squats, push ups, bridges, overhead presses or isolating glute exercises.

2.) Split Meals

Splitting meals allows you to do just what you want, taste the meal! In the past, every time I would order a pizza/pasta/{insert other comfort food here} for just myself, I always felt tired and too full after the meal. Not only does splitting meals save money, but it also allows you to eat less. This is one of my favorite strategies when traveling. I also do this when going to a bakery. NYC is a dessert paradise. We split some of our absolute favorites: a mini banana pudding, cupcake, croissant or the amazing babka bread throughout our stay in the city.

3.) Ask Yourself, Does it Look Amazing? 

This is my new go-to strategy for my bakery obsession. I love to peek my head into any bakery that catches my eye. Throughout my entire trip in England, I practiced asking myself this question, “does it look amazing?” I’m quite the dessert critic, so if a piece of cake looked dry, I easily passed. I found myself walking out a lot of bakeries empty handed! What if it looks good and it isn’t? When this happens, I ask if someone who I’m traveling wants it or simply throw it in the trash and eat the cost. This is my same strategy for ordering meals. Unfortunately, you can’t see the food first like a bakery, so splitting meals is always helpful.

Action Step: Be picky! If you’re not sure if it looks good, choose to split it with someone. 

4.) Seek Out Vegetables 

This can relate with number two, splitting meals. While in NYC, I found ways to split meals with my mom (like a lovely pasta dish) but ordered a salad to go with it. Since your dinner portion is much smaller, adding the salad acts as a great filler to keep me full after the meal was completed. Another option: find a local grocery store. Since our hotel room had a fridge, I also stocked up on some pre-washed greens from the grocery store. This worked well for adding a vegetable with breakfast.

Action Step: Every meal, scan the menu for a serving of vegetables. You’ll get the nutrients from the vegetables, which also help you stay full, while still leaving room for something you really want. 

5.) Start Your Morning With a Go-To Healthy Meal

I can’t emphasize this enough. Not only do you start your day with good energy, but it also keeps you full for hours! My normal go-to Europe breakfast has been something on-the-go like a delicious morning pastry. I found that it didn’t keep me full very long and it also affected my energy. Plus, I was eating something sweet to start my day, which lead me to want to continue to eat something sweet throughout the day. While traveling throughout England and Scotland, I found their “English breakfast” was a perfect meal to start my day. It consisted of eggs, ham/sausage/bacon, baked beans and a vegetable like mushrooms or asparagus. It was perfect! It’s large and I couldn’t eat it all, but I shared some with my husband. I often skipped the beans because nothing beats my Grandpa’s recipe 🙂 If your hotel has a free breakfast, load up on your protein options and pair it with a piece of fruit, vegetable or potato. In NYC, I had spinach, scrambled eggs and a piece of sausage every day to start my morning. It kept me full for at least 4 hours.