Eating Healthy While Traveling

Vacations are often the kryptonite to a healthy diet. You’re doing good, sticking to your meal plan, counting your calories, and…bam! You go on a trip away from home. Meals consist of grease and deep-fried everything, and you head home bloated and five-pounds heavier just in time to do a 3-day vegan cleanse to repent for your travel sins.

I know this feeling all too well, and I know how disgusting I feel even midway through my trips if this is what my diet has become.

Luckily, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Even though “calories don’t count” while on vacation (or on holidays, or on your birthday, or on your friends’ birthdays, etc.), it is possible to keep up with your daily health and make healthy dining choices on each and every trip. Here are some tips to keep your gut from falling into the toilet during your next vacation:

Plan Your Meals In Advance

This is the most important step to eating healthy while on a trip. My friends and I have always planned our trips around meals, and not necessarily healthy meals. We will select in advance where we want to eat dinner each evening, and then we plan our trip around those dinner destinations.

Since we are in the age of modern technology, this also means that you will have access to each restaurant’s dinner menu before you even leave the comfort of your house. This is important. Pull up the menu for each of your dinner destinations, and create a Note in your phone.

Take a few minutes to look through each menu, and select your meal of choice from that restaurant. Look for grilled options or “healthy selections”. Create combinations of food that promote gut health and heart health. If you fancy an adult beverage with your meals, select that now, too.

In your phone, type the name of the restaurant and your entire meal (beverage and all) underneath it. You can also add the prices.

Now, when you are in the moment, smelling those crispy fries in the air, you won’t decide to just say “screw it” and order the fries. You can pull up your Notes app, read off your order, and feel sweet relief in knowing that you are eating the best meal for you.

Bring Healthy Snacks And Meals In Your Luggage

This is the second-most-important priority in planning your trip’s meals. You’ve already planned out your dinners, but what about breakfast and lunch?

Look at what each day has in store for you, and bring snacks and/or meals to fill you up for those.

If you will be at a conference or in an environment where you can go to your room for lunches, ask in advance to have access to a refrigerator and a microwave, or bring amenities like a coffee pot or a rice maker. Bring healthy breakfast and lunch options to eat in your room. This keeps you from running off to the food court for each meal. Even most TV dinners are far healthier than the standard food court meal (and they are a lot cheaper, too).

If you will be on-the-go, bringing full meals isn’t an option. Instead, load up with healthy options like granola bars, sugar-free Jell-O, and homemade kale chips. Snack on these throughout the day, and that will prevent you from pigging out when you finally are able to grab lunch.

Making Healthy Drive-Thru Decisions

If you are on the go, a fast-food drive-thru will likely be a given, especially while on a road trip. Since drive-thru experiences are typically spontaneous, there is not a way to plan that meal in advance. However, there are still some methods to the madness to make the best out of the instant window.

Look at the menu for grilled chicken options. If you’re not one for chicken, look for lean beef. Whatever you select, it needs to be unbreaded and come with fresh veggies on the sandwich. Order this.

Most meals come with fries. Instead, order your grilled sandwich as an entree, and look for options like fresh fruit, a side salad, or granola to substitute for fries. Select a medium-sized beverage that is uncarbonated like water, lemonade, or unsweetened tea.

When you receive your meal, remove the top bun from your sandwich and throw it away (or feed it to some ducks or something). Eat your sandwich with only the bottom bun. This leaves just a small piece of bread, grilled protein, and fresh veggies…which is a helluva lot less calories than a normal fried meal contains.

Bottom Line: It’s Not Just For Travel

These tips are not just for your next vacation; they are great for everyday practice as well. Plan out your meals in advance, whether they are homemade or in a restaurant. Knowing what you plan to eat before it is time to eat helps to keep you on track for your goals.

Once you know your dinner (a.k.a. the major meal of the day), plan your breakfast and lunch around it. If you know that your boss is taking you to a company lunch, select your breakfast and dinner to complement that meal.

And should you find yourself in a fast-food drive-thru, start selecting the grilled options and remove the bun! And select fruits, veggies, or nuts instead of fries. Your body, your mind, and your spirit will all thank you for selecting healthy options for your everyday living, no matter where you dine.

The Starving Kids In Africa And Your Expanding Midsection

“You’d better finish your plate! There’s starving kids in Africa going hungry tonight while you’re trying not to eat your vegetables.”

We’ve all heard this before. My mother said this to me. The shows on the telly said this to me. Random parents in the mall’s food court spoke it aloud. From birth, most Americans (and perhaps inhabitants of other countries as well) are conditioned to finish all of the plate on their food, whether they want it or not.

Oftentimes, this notion is used with good intentions. Children often try skipping out of eating their veggies, while still devouring their meat and carbs and screaming for dessert. “Finish your plate” is an exasperated parent’s cry to keep their kid from developing scurvy, while “there’s starving kids in Africa” implants guilt within them for not eating those delicious leaves of spinach.

Fun fact! Broccoli is the only veggie that I won’t eat, so I feel this girl’s pain. Give her some green beans or something, y’all!

However, while this notion may have started with good intentions, it typically leads to bad habits that influence the negative consequences of one’s adult life. Finish your plate! echoes through my head at most meals. Whether I’m full or not. Whether the food tastes good or not. My eyes stare down at the plate and start calculating the spoonfuls in my head:

There’s only five more forkfuls. I know you’re full, but it’s just five forkfuls. That’s barely any compared to how many forkfuls you’ve already had! Come on…into the mouth…THERE you go! Put some water in your mouth, and it’ll help you chew and swallow it down. …GOOD JOB. Okay, now…there’s only four forkfuls now. You’ve got this! That’s barely any compared to how many forkfuls you’ve already had…

It’s just not healthy.

Unhealthy eating habits aren’t exclusive to me and this poor man in the picture. They plague most of us.

Listening to my body is one of the best things I’ve learned to do in my late twenties. My body lets me know when I am dehydrated. When I am hungry. When I need to walk. When I need a Pilates fix. When I need to run. When I need to sleep. When I need veggies. When I need meat. The human body is like a machine, and a caution light comes on in your head whenever a part needs some fixing up.

This is why fad diets and exercises don’t work. They’re not giving the body what it needs, but rather what you think it needs so that you can look like a cover model. And eventually, your body gives up, and you lapse back into your unhealthy habits once more.

Portion control is key, no matter what you eat. Yes, salads are healthy, but if you eat a giant bowl of iceberg lettuce with buttermilk ranch on top, you’re not getting anywhere in life.

What in the ever-loving shit is this?!!?!?!? Why would you do this?!????!?!?!

And that is why “finish your plate” is so damaging. You’re ignoring portion control, and you’re ignoring your body. Your body is saying that it is full–that it has reached the level of fuel required to run through the day–but you are still shoveling more gas into the tank.

Are you overly gassy? Do you have poop problems? Indigestion? Feel like a lard after a meal? You’re finishing your plate.

Stop it.

I know, it’s hard! It is soooo hard, and I struggle with it daily. When I do finish my plate without feeling full, I congratulate myself. I placed the exact right amount of food on the plate, and as a result I was able to finish it without punishing my body.

When I feel full and have to put my plate down, I look sadly at that one forkful of kale left, the two bites of tilapia, the toddler-sized handful of rice. I know that I can still eat that. But I’ll be destroying my body in the process. It’s better to store that plate in the fridge (or get a to-go box from a restaurant) for a later-day snack of what was left on the plate. Knowing this, it’s still a struggle.

Don’t you dare judge me! I’m working on my portion control and didn’t finish this at dinner!

Meanwhile, across the globe, African kids are still starving…which is the other problem with this whole messed up analogy.

Finish your plate because there’s starving kids in Africa.

What we think we’re saying is to feel grateful for what we have.

What we’re really saying is to be as gluttonous as possible with our meals. Rather than taking a couple of bucks and donating money to feed these poor kids, we are shoving the money down our throats to pop a few extra buttons off our trousers.

The Google Image search for “starving kids in Africa” literally turned my stomach and brought tears to my eyes, so enjoy this image of “disadvantaged” students in Liberia with singer Ed Sheeran instead.

There’s starving kids in Africa. There’s also starving kids in our own cities. And dehydrated kids. Flint, Michigan still doesn’t have clean water. If you are continuously cooking too much food and overstuffing your plate, shorten your grocery list by a few bucks, and send Flint some water bottles.

Like, seriously. Click this link and send these people some water until the government officials get off their asses and fix the water problem.

Absolutely disgusting in more ways than one.

Bottom line? You take the fuel nozzle out of the car when you hear the click say that your tank is full. Likewise, put your fork down and push your plate aside when your stomach tells you that you are full.

And instead of trivializing starving children for the benefit of the growing obesity crisis, just tell your kids to eat their veggies instead.


**Are you interested in getting your health and fitness together, with all of the team support and none of the pyramid schemes singing in your DMs? Comment below, and I’ll add you to my fitness group today! No hidden issues, just friends and fitness for FREE 🙂