How To Eat Healthy While Traveling (according to an Intuitive Eating Dietitian)
You can still feel great and eat healthy while traveling by following some easy tips!
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I believe that we can transform our relationship with food by tuning in to and honoring our body’s individual hunger and fullness cues.
But, what happens when you’re traveling, you’re at the mercy of an unpredictable schedule and you find yourself ravenous without any access to food?
While this situation can happen to us on any given day, it’s much more common when we are traveling.
While traveling there are so many things that can affect your ability to eat healthily:
- Delayed flights, trains, and buses;
- Traffic on the roads
- You may be less likely to feel your hunger due to the stress and excitement of the trip;
- Not finding appetizing choices in the airport or rest stop
When these situations happen to you, do you know what to do? Or do you ignore your initial hunger signs and then find yourself HANGRY and frantically eating anything in sight when you finally get access to food?
Have you had an experience like this?
- Your stomach is rumbling…
- You feel light-headed…
- Your patience is gone…
And you have nothing to eat!
If you’re lucky, you might have access to some chips, a soda, or a cup of coffee. These options can help tide you over but it’s not going to give you much staying-power.
I’ve Been There Too!
But, through the years, I’ve developed some strategies to eat healthy while traveling to help keep me feeling my best, even when my life has other plans!
Here are my tips for eating healthy while traveling, this holiday season or anytime:
1. Focus less on the clock and more on your internal hunger signals.
Let’s face it: your schedule can really get out of whack when you are traveling. And we can be hungry at ‘off’ times when we are staying up late or waking up early.
When you are hungry, eat! When you start to feel hungry, make it a priority to pause and eat within the next hour.
2. Let technology be your friend.
If you find it hard to tune in to your body, especially while traveling, use your phone or other technology to your advantage! I’m a huge fan of setting reminders to help some people remember to eat regularly.
Check in with your hunger and fullness every 3 hours or so, by setting a reminder and doing a quick body scan. If you find yourself ravenous, it can be a good idea to use an external reminder.
A reminder on your phone or computer to check in with your hunger levels every 3 hours or so can help avoid extreme hunger which often leads to eating so quickly that you find yourself uncomfortably full afterwards.
3. Keep snacks in your purse or bag.
Your options are varied, depending on your situation, but I highly recommend keeping shelf-stable snacks with you at all times. My teenager kids sometimes tease me, but they do appreciate a snack out of my bag every once in a while!
Some shelf-stable snacks I love:
- Granola, energy or nut bars;
- Milk or milk alternative boxes
- Trail mix
- Coconut chips
- A piece of fruit: oranges, bananas, and apples travel well.
If you have access to an insulated back or a refrigerator, here are some more options:
- Energy balls – Try my quick energy ball recipe in this article.
- Hummus with veggies and pita
- Yogurt with fruit and granola
- Cheese sticks
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Guacamole pack with tortilla chips
4. Use my 2 – 3 formula to help your snacks and meals have staying power.
As an Intuitive Eating dietitian who truly believes that all foods fit, I’m not going to tell you to avoid foods whether you’re on-the-go or at home, but here’s a tip that will help your food be more enjoyable and have more staying power (so you won’t be hungry 30 mins later);
For snacks: aim for at least 2 food groups
For meals: aim for at least 3 food groups.
Here’s how I look at many common foods:
- Salad with dressing – 2 food groups. Make it a meal by adding a slice of bread, crackers, beans, egg, cheese, and/or turkey.
- Hummus with pita – 2 food groups. Make it a mini-meal by adding raw veggies and a hard-boiled egg or grilled chicken.
- Pizza – crust, sauce, and cheese – 3 food groups
- Cookie – 1 food group – Add milk, some nuts, or a piece of fruit to give it more staying power.
5. Practice flexibility – aim to find something you like, but understand that every meal is not going to be your favorite.
When you’re traveling, sometimes you can’t find the food you want. If you are used to dieting, you might skip eating or feel guilty when you eat something you consider ‘unhealthy’ or forbidden.
If there’s one fact I want to instill in you, it’s this: Unless you have a food allergy, no one food or meal is going to harm your health. Eating food when you are hungry is so important!
If this type of thinking is new to you, I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read my article, What Is Intuitive Eating?
I know that traveling can be challenging with all the unknowns that can occur at a moment’s notice. But, you can eat healthy while you are traveling and enjoy it!
Take the time to plan ahead, listen to your body, and use a few tricks and you might even enjoy eating while you’re traveling. You don’t need to spend hours prepping or stressing about food. Now wouldn’t that be more enjoyable?
What are your plans for tackling your nutrition and body image struggles in 2021?
I have only 4 spaces left for 1:1 Intuitive eating and body image work beginning in January of 2021. I intentionally limit my new client load every month so my clients can get all the personalized attention they need.
Interested in what it’s like to work with me 1:1? The first step is to schedule your complimentary call with me to see if you’d be a good fit for my program. It’s a no-strings-attached way for us to get to know one another. Schedule your complimentary Take Action Call with me now.
Bonus: New clients who book with me for January 2021 work before December 31st will pay my 2020 rate! On Jan 1, prices will increase for new clients. Now’s your chance to save AND start your new year off right.
Kelly Abramson MS, RD is a dietitian and Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor who works with clients in Alexandria, VA and virtually via telehealth. She guides women as they break free from dieting to find joy in food and their bodies. Kelly blogs regularly at NpowerYou.com and has created a free e-book for download, “7 Steps to Overcome Stress Eating.”