How To Stay Healthy While Traveling, by R.D. Crystal Cascio
One of the hardest parts about vacations and trips is trying to stay healthy while traveling and eat well on-the-go.
Think about the majority of meals and snacks offered at airports, bus, train, and gas stations, along with food establishments that are off the highways. Most of the foods offered are not healthy and fast food restaurants dominate the scene.
Although this is slowly changing (airports have definitely been steppin’ their game up to offer healthy options), we still have a LONG way to go before we can travel and feel confident that we will have access to healthy and affordable food.
Until our society becomes one that doesn’t promote fast food and junk foods, we need to take it upon ourselves to do some preparation ahead of time to ensure that we will have access to healthy foods while we’re traveling.
I bet you’re thinking that this probably requires a lot of preparation and time. With all of the other things you have to do before you leave for a trip (pack clothes, toiletries, gather passports and other travel documents, figure out finances, etc.) how on earth will you find time to make sure you have some healthy eats on board?
Let me help you with that!
All that’s required of you is to make a quick run to the grocery store before you leave. You can do this days or weeks before your departure, since the food list I’m going to provide you with includes non-perishable items.
Here are some on-the-go food essentials to stay healthy during your travels:
Nuts and seeds: good source of healthy fats and protein! Trail mix is also a good choice, just make sure it doesn’t have added sweets like M&M’s, chocolate, etc. (if its dark chocolate, >70% cacao, I’d make an exception!)
Peanut butter/nut butters: to make PB and J’s, PB and banana sandwiches, to have with an apple or banana, or even just to have as a standalone snack.
A loaf of whole grain bread: always make sure one of the first ingredients in your whole grain bread contains the words “whole”, otherwise you may not be getting the whole grain.
Jam for a PB and jelly sandwich: stick to ones with limited ingredients, and use sparingly because of their high sugar content. One of my favorite jams is Stonewall Kitchens Wild Maine Blueberry Jam.
Fresh fruit: bananas, oranges, clementines, apples.
Freeze dried fruit without added sugars: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, mangoes, etc.
Cereal: I personally like Ezekiel Cereal since it has limited ingredients and no added sugars. Pack along individual boxes of rice or soy milk to eat it with (go for the non-refrigerated, unsweetened varieties to limit added sugars). You can add dried fruit (my favorite to add is strawberries) for a nice flavor and nutritional boost. If you bring to-go cups and plastic spoons, it’s easy to eat on-the-go!
Believe it or not…BABY FOOD! Having baby food handy can really help you get your fruits and veggies in when on-the-go. One brand that comes to mind is Earth’s Best 2nd (6 months and older) and 3rd (9 months and older) baby food pouches that contain ready-to-eat pureed fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Checkout some of their products: Wholesome Breakfast Apple Raisin, Zucchini, Tomato, Roasted Red Pepper
Organic, herb-seasoned popcorn (I love Whole Food’s brand). Popcorn is actually a whole grain and a healthy snack! When popcorn starts to get unhealthy is when we add in a bunch of salt and butter to the mixture. Try seasoning popcorn with herbs instead of butter and salt.
Granola bars: Be careful with these, as many have A LOT of unnecessary additives and sugars. Try to choose bars with limited ingredients and make sure they’re made from whole foods. My personal favorites include KIND bars since you can actually see their ingredients (go with the plain one with just the nuts) and Rx Bars, which have simple ingredients made out of whole foods.
Lastly but most importantly: LOTS OF WATER!
Next time you’re taking a road trip, traveling, camping or hiking, try purchasing some of these snacks/mini meals in advance! I guarantee you’ll thank yourself when you’re too busy enjoying flavorful and nutrient-packed foods to acknowledge an advertisement for fast food selling flavor-less, nutrient devoid, antibiotic and hormone laden meals.
“It’s not food if it arrived through the window of your car”- Michael Pollan.
About: Crystal is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who believes the answer to healthy eating often lies in getting back to earth. When she’s not working at the veterans hospital teaching veterans how to live a healthier lifestyle, you can find her at a farmers market, yoga studio, traveling, or exploring some local eats of Arizona! Check out her Instagram and blog [Back2Earth Nutrition] for recipes, wellness and healthy lifestyle tips.