Abigail Joy Dougherty: Registered Dietitian, Nutrition Expert & Lover of Life
Healthy Eating

On the Road Again – Healthy Eating Travel Tips

Don’t Let Travel Derail Your Healthy Eating Habits!

Vacation season is officially upon us. Long weekends, kids out of school, beach days etc., but no matter where you’re headed this spring/summer, be sure to take your healthy eating habits with you.  It can be very difficult while traveling to stick with your healthy lifestyle.  Many people have trouble finding healthy options because they are surrounded by fast food, beach bars, and airport food – i.e foods that are unhealthy and non-nourishing.  So what is a healthy traveler to do?

Plan ahead.  Here are my top 6 tips and tricks to help keep you healthy on the go!


1.  Before You Leave:  Pack snacks or meal replacements.

Try fresh fruit like bananas, apples and oranges (super portable); oatmeal packets (just add hot water); nuts and dried fruit; nut butters (some brands offer individual packets); protein bars or fruit and nut bars; raw veggies (chopped carrots, celery, broccoli, etc.); and sandwiches made at home for the day you’re traveling.

2. Find the closest grocery store.

If you are going on a long trip, head to the grocery store soon after you get to your destination. Buy fresh veggies, fruit, cereal, low fat or nonfat yogurt, cottage cheese and milk.  These are great items you can prepare in your hotel and store in the mini fridge.

3. Wake up early enough to eat breakfast and get in a quick workout.

Being active can help you stay on track with your goals and eat healthfully. It will also make you feel better throughout the day.  At the very least, bring tennis shoes so you can walk briskly around the area you’re visiting. You’ll get in a workout and get to see all the sights by foot—just remember to bring a water bottle and stay hydrated. Wearing workout gear on the plane (including sneakers) can be comfy and frees up room in your suitcase.

4. Do some restaurant research.

Most restaurant and fast food websites include their nutrition information, so you can check out the choices before you go.  Some fast food chains and restaurants do offer healthier items. Look for things like veggie trays, protein plates, fruit cups and salads. The main thing is to stay away from items that are breaded and/or fried.  These items can make you feel sluggish and are loaded with empty calories and saturated fat.

5. Eat healthy while dining out.

Choose items on the menu with a good mix of high fiber carbohydrates, lean protein and healthy fat. If the entrée isn’t as healthy as you like, make modifications to the dishes; for example, ask for no cheese, steamed instead of sautéed veggies or for your protein to be baked or broiled without butter/oil.

6. Mind the alcohol.

Sometimes putting our feet up corresponds with drinking an extra cocktail or two. The heart-healthy effects of alcohol are lost when you consume too much. Try to stick to one drink or less per day for women and two or less per day for men.  Cocktails can often have many empty calories – sticking with 1-2 drinks per day is definitely a good way to stay healthy and save calories. Cheers!


Keys to Success:

  • Enjoy yourself!
  • Do your best to eat healthy and stay active but don’t make yourself crazy. Sometimes you won’t have control over the situation (i.e. your friend picks the restaurant).  Just do your best.
  • Don’t deprive yourself.  If you’re in Chicago, which is known for its deep-dish pizza, then go for it! Add a side salad instead of grabbing a high fat appetizer.  Just pick and choose when to splurge.
  • Don’t get down on yourself. You’re likely to have a few indulgences or unhealthy meals while traveling. Truly enjoy them and then hop back on the healthy train for your next meal!

*Travel Goal: Keep a bag of trail mix or piece of fruit in your bag so you always have a healthy option when hunger strikes to keep you going until your next meal.*




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