Stick to Your Nutrition When You Travel: Tips for Healthy Eating on the Go

June 2, 2023

As summer travel season kicks off, many of us find ourselves embarking on exciting vacations and adventures. While traveling is a wonderful way to unwind and explore new places, it can also disrupt our usual eating routines and make it challenging to maintain a diet that helps us feel our best. However, with a little planning and the right strategies, you can stick to your nutrition goals while enjoying your vacation. We’ll share some valuable tips and advice from Lauren Zimmerman, Registered Dietitian, at Synchronicity, to help you maintain a healthy eating routine while on the go while still enjoying your travels.

Plan Ahead: Before you embark on your journey, take some time to plan your meals and snacks. Zimmerman suggests, “Research your destination and identify nearby restaurants you are excited to try or grocery stores that offer healthy options. This will help you make informed choices and stay on track with your nutrition goals.” Planning also allows you to pack healthy snacks and meals for the journey itself, reducing the reliance on heavily processed airport or convenience store food.

Pack Nutrient-Dense Snacks: Snacks are essential when traveling, as they can help curb hunger and prevent overindulging in something you did not intend to eat. Zimmerman recommends packing nutrient-dense snacks like fresh fruits, cut vegetables, nuts, seeds, or homemade energy bars. These snacks provide a good balance of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, keeping you satisfied and energized throughout the day.

Stay Hydrated: “Maintaining hydration is crucial while traveling,” emphasizes Zimmerman. “Carry a reusable water bottle with you and fill it up whenever possible. Dehydration can lead to fatigue, poor energy, and poor digestion. When we aren’t feeling our best, the pull to make food choices that don’t leave us feeling our best can be stronger.” Additionally, drinking water can help you distinguish between true hunger and thirst, preventing unnecessary snacking.

Make Smart Choices at Restaurants: Eating out is a common occurrence while traveling, but it does not mean you have to abandon your healthy eating habits or eat in a way that leaves you feeling poorly. It is important to balance the experience and enjoyment food provides with what is going to make you feel your best. When dining at restaurants, look for dishes that feature lean proteins, whole grains, and plenty of vegetables. Look for grilled, baked, or steamed options rather than fried or creamy dishes. Don’t hesitate to ask for modifications to accommodate your dietary preferences.

Be Mindful of Portion Sizes: It’s easy to overindulge when faced with large portion sizes or all-you-can-eat buffets. To avoid this, “share meals with your travel companions, scan the buffet beforehand to be intentional with choices, or, if the meal looks like far more than you typically eat, pack half of the meal for later. Listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues and eat slowly to truly enjoy the meal and recognize those signals.”

Utilize Local Food Options: Exploring local food markets and grocery stores can be a delightful way to experience the culture and find nutritious food options. “Stock up on fresh fruits, vegetables, and local specialties,” suggests Zimmerman. “You can create your own nutritious meals using local ingredients, ensuring you have control over the nutritional content.”

Snack Ideas for On-the-Go: When you’re on the move, having easy and portable snacks is essential. Check out some of Lauren’s go to travel snacks:

  • Single-serve packs of nut butter with apple slices or banana
  • Greek yogurt cups or fruit and yogurt pouches
  • Trail mix with a mix of nuts, dried fruits, and seeds
  • Pre-cut vegetables or whole grain crackers with hummus
  • Protein bars made with wholesome ingredients and minimal added sugars

Travel and vacations bring about a time for rest, exploration, and time with friends and family. Food is a part of this. Balancing the enjoyment and experience of new foods with a way of eating that leaves you feeling your best can ensure you leave your vacation feeling good and balanced and not needing to “diet” when you return. This is key to sustainability.


Modern Minds with MUSC Health

Synchronicity is a subsidiary of Modern Minds, a non-profit organization dedicated to treating and empowering mental health and wellbeing. We often partner together to offer truly integrative care for Modern Minds clients, Synchronicity members and the greater Lowcountry community.