Tips for Eating Healthy While Traveling
Eating healthy while traveling is a struggle for everyone, including myself at times: "Hi, my name is Katlin and I am addicted to french fries."
But planning ahead and knowing what to look for make eating out a lot easier and a whole lot less stressful.
Here are a few tips for eating healthy while traveling:
1. Chose a complete protein source
Order complete protein sources that are either grilled or broiled; seared in light oil is okay. Examples of complete protein sources are meat, fish, eggs, dairy, tofu, & tempeh.
A few other non-meat options are quinoa, buckwheat, Ezekiel bread, brown rice and beans. But keep in mind these last few are also complex carbs themselves so you will want to avoid adding in more carb dense foods and opt for lower carb vegetables like dark leafy greens, asparagus, or steamed veggies.
2. Choose complex carbs options to go with your protein
Examples of typical complex carb options; sweet potato, squash, brown or wild rice, quinoa, oats, whole grain or whole wheat breads, beans. A baked potato or cup of fruit are also okay options. Both are a little faster digesting but they are whole food options that are better than processed options like macaroni, pasta salad, chips, or white bread
Do not avoid carbs completely, carbs are the body’s preferred source of fuel. You just need to pick more complex carbs over simple carbs throughout the day. That being said not all simple carbs are bad like fruits or a white potato; these are whole foods that provide nutrients to the body. Processed simple carbs like white breads, pastas, and candies are “bad” simple carbs.
The difference between complex carbs and simple carbs; complex carbs take longer for the body to break down providing a steady longer lasting source of fuel for the body. Simple carbs are quickly broken down into sugar by the body and in turn, are quickly burned and used. You might notice you feel hungrier faster after eating only a cup of fruit versus a bowl of oatmeal.
3. Add vegetables
Ask for grilled or steamed veggies without butter. Most restaurants have steamed veggies on their menu, what many people don’t realize is that the veggies will come out covered in butter unless you ask them not to put butter on the veggies.
4. Extras on the side
Ask for sauces, butter, oils, and other toppings like croutons on the side so you can control how much, if any, you use on your dish.
5. Watch out!
Don’t choose foods that are breaded or “crusted”. Foods that might seem healthy, like fajitas, are typically fried in A LOT of oil.
Bean dips, and obviously cheese dips, have a lot of fat in them. Opt for salsa and chips for a healthier appetizer.
What I choose when eating while traveling
Personally, my go-to's are grilled shrimp, seared Ahi Tuna, or grilled chicken. Then I typically choose steamed veggies, asparagus, or brussel sprouts (depending on how they cook them they can either be healthy or really unhealthy).
I also love Sushi! Sushi is a great option when eating out, but make sure the roll you are choosing doesn’t have high-fat sauces (like mayo-based sauces), isn’t fried or contain fried bits, and doesn’t have cream cheese. My personal favorite is the Rainbow Roll which typically has no added sauces, fried bits, or cream cheese. Nigiri is also a great option because it typically is only thinly sliced fish over sticky rice, simple, healthy, and delicious!
*Tip! If you see another roll you like but it has a sauce, fried bits, or cream cheese, you can ask them to make the roll without the less admirable item(s).
While I was out this weekend we stopped at Bartaco. I chose the Ahi Tuna rice bowl. It had brown rice, red onion, bell peppers, cilantro, a little sauce, and Ahi Tuna, of course.
What about fast food options?
If you’re on the go and looking at fast food options you’re not at a loss. You can find healthy options at almost all fast food places. Typically I look for these places while I am out: Starbucks, Panera Bread, Arby’s, Chipotle, Whole Foods (buffet). Food choices can be made healthier by leaving out mayo/ high-calorie sauces and toppings. I sweeten oats and coffee with stevia, and I choose to eat half a sandwich at Arby's (market fresh options) and Panera.
The My Fitness Pal app (which is free) is an awesome app I use to help give me an idea of the macros (protein, fats, and carbs) for certain fast food options. On average I would say 50+ grams of carbs, and 20+ grams of fats is too much for one meal for most people. You typically at least 20g of protein per meal depending on body weight. If it is the main meal I would shoot for at least 20g of protein.
I track all of my meals using the My Fitness Pal app to help me stay on track throughout the day. But being able to look up fast food options while I am out has saved me a lot of hassle and a lot of unwanted fat hahaha!
Foods that are easy to pack!
If I am traveling overnight I tend to bring these easily packable foods:
- Meal replacement protein - 1st Phorm Level 1
- Plain oats mixed with cinnamon & stevia packets. If I am in a hurry I will grab low sugar quick oats.
- Tuna or Salmon Packets
- Protein bars - Quest or Power Crunch are two brands I like, Quest is higher in carbs, lower in fat while the Power Crunch bars are low in carbs, higher in fat. Check labels for carb and fat amounts of different bars.
- Low sodium nuts
- Beef Jerky (check the label, some of these are high in sugar!)
Last, but not least, gas station food...?
Yep, sometimes (probably more than I'd like to admit) I grab food from gas stations. Most larger chain gas stations now have a refrigerated section where you can find healthier snack options. I typically look for hard boiled eggs, cheese sticks, and cups of fresh fruit. Some also have meat and cheese packs, but check the nutrition label because some can be high in fat.
If you need help with a meal plan or eating on the go shoot me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org, I’m happy to help!
And if you're a coffee lover like me, you might want to check out my list of Carolina Coffee shops I am checking out on my motorcycle adventures this summer. Subscribe to my YouTube channel to join me!