Dear Jewish Food Hero: How Can I Eat Healthier While Traveling?
I would like to eat healthier when I travel for work and holidays. When I travel now, I tend to snack on “treats” all day and end up feeling more hungry. When I eat in restaurants, I try to order a salad so I eat vegetables but this never fills me up and it is expensive. And after a while, salads don’t feel fun.
Emotionally, I judge myself about my meals not being healthy and wish I could figure out how to eat more vegetables and fruits. Can you suggest how I can have fun while eating healthier while traveling?
Dear Healthy Traveler:
Eating healthy while traveling is a challenge for most of us. It is true that it takes more effort to be intentional about food when you are on the road and on-the-go. I feel that way too.
It is simply not possible to take care of yourself in the same exact way when you are traveling as you do at home. This goes for how we eat, how we move our bodies and how we sleep.
On the other hand, eating well supports us while we travel. Traveling is intellectually stimulating and it can be physically exhausting. Centering our meals around the healthiest plant-based foods: minimally processed fruits, vegetables, starchy vegetables, intact whole grains, roots/tubers and beans while traveling can help support your overall energy and mood while you travel. It will also help ensure that you do not suffer from constipation and/or diarrhea while traveling (which so many travelers experience).
Here are some tips I follow when I travel to try to eat a healthy as possible.
- Choose to stay in a hotel or apartment that has some food preparation/storage possibilities: a refrigerator, microwave (I know it is not ideal and we are traveling), hot kettle and maybe even a cooking burner. This allows you to store fruits and perhaps even prepare a few simple meals.
- Identify a grocery store or fresh market and make it a priority to go there to buy any food you need.
- Pack healthy food that you can prepare with hot water. Instant oatmeal packets are nourishing for breakfast and healthy soup cups can come in handy if you do not have time for a proper for lunch or dinner.
- If you are traveling on a plane, pack your healthy meal in advance, abstain from alcohol and remember to drink water. A wise woman gave me the advice a few years back to fast while flying and this indeed does help with jet lag. I fast when it feels right.
Eating at Restaurants:
Traveling usually includes many meals in restaurants. One of the keys to eating healthy while traveling is learning how to order the healthiest food possible and not being shy to ask for what you want.
How to order healthier in restaurants:
- Eat vegan while you travel. Abstaining from meat and dairy during your trip turns the voyage into a health experience.
- Ask for dishes to be prepared without oil. If this is not possible, ask for less oil.
- Order a side of plain starch (think rice,baked potato, or pasta) along with any vegetable dish you are eating.
- Order dressings and sauces on the side for salads and pastas.
- Order raw or steamed vegetables as a side.
- If you are not sure that the restaurant will have any whole grain starches, bring a baked potato in your bag and eat it with a salad.
- Never eat a salad on its own (you will be hungry afterwards). Pair your salad with a starch so that you will be satiated.
To your comment was about wanting to “have fun” while eating healthy. This is so interesting and I wish I could know more about this story so I could comment more specifically! Without more details I can say that:
- Emotional associations with food experiences are deeply personal and tied to our unique food memories.
- Each person has emotional priorities (one or more) when they eat (i.e. the primary emotional need they are trying to meet. For example, to experience comfort, control, deprivation, freedom, sedation, happiness, etc.).
- enjoyment, amusement, or light-hearted pleasure.
I will leave you with this closing inquiry to ask yourself:
“Knowing everything I do about healthy eating and being an expert about my body and moods, “What needs to happen next for me to have fun while I eat healthier on the road?”
To your health,
Jewish Food Hero.