Thursday, October 8, 2015

Clean eating while traveling

Speaking of travel, I’ve been receiving lots of requests recently from my health coaching clients and readers for a post about how to eat clean when away from home. I figured that if they’re wondering, some of you might be as well. So today, I’m giving you a peek into how I maintain my healthy eating regime while away from my own kitchen, as well as some tips to help you to do the same.

#1 Prep and Packing 
Again, it probably won’t shock you that I think about packing snacks before a single article of clothing goes into my suitcase. After years of traveling to and from my home in the Middle East each summer, I’ve become good at knowing which foods sit well in my stomach on plane rides and which ones cause problems. On any given flight, you’ll likely find these things in my hand luggage:

  • apples
  • baby carrots
  • sliced cucumbers, celery, and bell peppers
  • hummus
  • dried fruit
  • whole grain crackers
  • Simply Bars (dairy free, gluten free, vegan, non GMO, kosher protein bars) and/or Quest bars (no added sweeteners, gluten free, whey-based protein bars)
  • gum (not great for digestion but good for ear soreness when the plane takes off and lands)

  • #2 Scope Out the Surroundings

    The first thing I do once I find out I’m going to be visiting a new city is look for healthy food options near where I’ll be staying. (I know, I know – most regular people would probably look for other fun attractions but this is a foodie whose blog you’re reading!) Thanks to Google, food blogs, and restaurant review sites like UrbanSpoon, OpenTable, and Trip Advisorit’s really easy to find healthy places to eat before you arrive. But it’s not just restaurants I look for. I also map out grocery stores nearby so that I can stock up on fresh items like produce and yogurt when I arrive, and keep them in my hotel fridge.

    #3 The Grocery Store
    After getting settled in at my destination, I stock up on a few groceries at the nearest grocery store. If your hotel room has a fridge, clear it out and re-stock it with some of the following items:
    • pre-chopped veggies
    • fruit
    • Greek yogurt (or non-dairy yogurt if necessary)
    • hummus
    • salsa
    • tuna pouches
    • pre-cooked chicken strips (look for organic with no funny ingredients – can be an expensive option, but if you really don’t want to spend much money on eating out in restaurants, it’s important to have a good source of protein!)
     If you’re lucky enough to have a Whole Foods nearby, or another grocery store that has pre-made salads or a salad bar, you can package up a few things for yourself and store those in your fridge as well. Not having access to a cutting board and knife isn’t a good excuse for skipping your greens!

    #4 Always Eat Breakfast
    Breakfast is the most important meal of your day. Always start your day with a healthy breakfast. Eating a breakfast that includes whole grains, protein and nutrient-rich dairy foods gives you a boost of energy and jump-starts your metabolism. Your metabolism slows while you sleep because your body is not burning energy the same way it does when you are awake and active. Avoid the hotel breakfast buffet and stay away from the fast food places for breakfast. Locate a supermarket or health food store near your hotel or motel and stock up the mini-refrigerator with some low-fat milk and yogurt, fresh fruit and whole grains like granola. Breakfast shake drinks can also be a good choice, especially if you don’t have a refrigerator in your room, or if you are running late for an activity. Add some flavor and texture to your morning low-fat yogurt with granola and fresh fruit, such as blueberries. If you have to eat out for breakfast, choose a whole grain cereal with low-fat milk or a whole grain bagel.

    #5 Drink Up
    Stay hydrated, and make sure you take in enough fluids. The stale air circulating in airports makes me super dehydrated, so I always bring an empty shaker bottle with me through security to fill up at the drinking fountain before boarding my flight. I pack all my travel day meals in my carry-on so I'm set in case of any delays.

    #6 Eat a treat a day
    You’re on vacation, so of course you want to indulge. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as you place limits on it. By committing to a single decadent treat per day, you won’t feel as though you missed out, nor will you feel uncomfortable by the end of the trip.

    Of course, nutrition goes hand in hand with fitness. While I don’t normally stress about workouts when I’m traveling (unless of course I’m doing a race!) I aim to make my holidays as active as possible. This typically means doing a lot of exploring by foot, or using a hotel gym if I happen to be staying in a hotel. 

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