Canyon Ranch Blog

The Traveler’s Guide to Healthy Eating

Traveling, whether for fun or business, is easier and more productive when you are at the top of your game, feeling your best. Eating well, of course, plays a big part in that. Unfortunately, many aspects of being away from home can interfere with your efforts. Airport food courts filled with less-than-ideal choices, disrupted dining and sleeping schedules, vacations seemingly centered around eating—even the most dedicated can find their efforts quickly and easily derailed.

The best travel guides tell you where to stay, which sights you can’t miss and the best way to get around town. They help you feel confident and prepared to visit a new place. You refer to them often, sometimes marking up the pages. We want this article to be just as useful. Consider it your guide to navigating the landscape of eating while in the air, on the road or on a ship so you can enjoy your travels without sacrificing your energy and well-being.

Attention All Travelers

The challenges you face can differ depending on how you’re traveling. But these three tips apply across the board and are often forgotten.

  • Eat breakfast. This is an easy meal to keep healthy. Check out our article Quick and Easy Breakfast on the Run for practical ideas.
  • Eat a snack or meal every three to four hours during the day. This will keep your blood sugar levels stable and prevent the overeating that comes from being too hungry.
  • Eat light while you are actually in route. Heavy or large meals can lead to fatigue and aren’t consistent with healthy eating on the road or at home. Save your splurges for when you’ll really savor them.

If You’re Flying…

Flying the friendly skies poses a series of challenges to healthy eating. You may not have had the time or appetite to eat before you left home, you’re bombarded with unhealthy options both at the airport and on the plane, and it’s easy to get dehydrated. Here are some simple solutions:

Choose the Best of Airport Food. Try to avoid the usual (less-than-healthy) suspects: alluring cinnamon rolls, large fancy coffee drinks, pizza, chips and burgers. These airport offerings are lifesavers when you don’t have time to pack your own food:

  • Whole-grain bagel
  • Oatmeal with the fixings
  • Salads and fruit
  • Yogurt or yogurt parfaits

Pack Your Own Snacks. Even peanuts and pretzels have disappeared from most short flights, but you can stay nourished with these options:

  • Fresh fruit. Sturdy fruit like apples can go right in your bag. Cut up pieces of fruit travel well in plastic bags or containers.
  • Nuts and dry fruit. Both are calorie and nutrient dense, so they help you feel fuller long. Pack them separately, make them into a trail mix or purchase a high quality bar with these as the main ingredients. If you feel like making your own before you fly, try our Canyon Ranch Hiking Bar, our Fruit and Nut Bar or our Pumpkin Crunch, an amazing trail mix-like snack.
  • A sandwich or wrap on whole-grain bread or tortilla.
  • Small bags of healthy snacks like kale chips, whole-grain crackers or freeze-dried vegetables.

Stay Hydrated. Due to the plane’s circulating dry air, flying carries the additional burden of dehydration. To avoid it:

  • The best beverage choices are water, tea and 100% juice (water your juice down to limit calories). Avoid soda, coffee and—yes—alcohol while in the air.
  • Bring an empty water bottle in your carry-on bag and fill it after you go through security. Or buy bottled water at the airport.
  • Bring tea bags in your favorite flavors and use airline hot water to brew them.
  • Put a few slices of fresh ginger in an insulated travel mug and fill with hot water after security for soothing ginger tea.

Stock Your Hotel Room. Once you arrive at your destination, use a little planning so you’re not stuck without something healthy to eat.

  • At the very least, pick us some fresh fruit for your room. Bars, trail mix and nuts are also easy to keep in the room.
  • If you have a refrigerator, stock it with options like yogurt, fruit juice (again, watered-down), hummus and hard-boiled eggs.
  • Hotel breakfast buffets usually have some simple, healthy choices like bran cereal, whole-grain bagels and hard-boiled eggs. Avoid the pastries.
  • Download the mobile app from www.goodfoodnearyou.com to locate healthy restaurant choices close by your hotel.

If You’re Road Tripping…

Part of the fun of a road trip is exploring local food, but too often travelers find themselves stopping at fast food chains or convenience stores to grab a burger or candy bar. Here’s how to avoid that:

  • Invest in a small cooler. Use frozen ice packs or frozen water bottles to keep the contents cool.
  • Pack the cooler with homemade sandwiches, hummus, raw vegies, fresh fruit and yogurt.
  • Carry healthy snack foods like nuts, dried fruit, trail mix and bars.
  • Rather than snacking while you drive or ride, schedule a stop for a quick meal. Get out of the car and walk around. Stretch those legs.

If You’re Cruising…

The biggest temptation on a cruise ship is the overwhelming abundance of food. Believe it or not, there are ways around the indulgence:

  • Make the decision to eat in a healthy way before you board the boat. Find a buddy who has the same desire to eat healthily on the ship. Spend mealtime together when you can.
  • Have a healthy breakfast. Keep it light.
  • Choose to have one lighter meal and one larger meal during the day. It may be easier to make lunch your light meal, but a light dinner is also possible.
  • Take advantage of the healthier dining options on the ship. Many cruise lines are offering lighter meals in response to travelers’ demands. A good example is Canyon Ranch Spa Cuisine on the Queen Mary 2.

And finally…

Don’t let traveling derail the healthy habits you have worked so hard to establish. “Keep your travel eating routine as close as you can to your at-home eating routine,” advises Andres Valenzuela, M.S., R.D.N., a nutritionist at Canyon Ranch in Tucson. If you eat three meals and two snacks at home every three to four hours, for example, continue this while you’re traveling. This will help you transition back relatively easily once your vacation is over, so you don’t have to start anew with eating healthy every time you travel. “You may not eat the exact same foods while traveling, but at least try to keep your habits consistent,” Valenzuela says.

Bon voyage.

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