Tips For Eating Healthy While Traveling
Eating healthy while traveling is crucial for athletes who are constantly finding themselves on the road during season. Between competitions and training camps, athletes spend a significant amount of time traveling for their sport, and are often relying on what’s available at convenience stores, gas stations, or fast food restaurants along the way. In this article, we’ll be reviewing tips and tricks to help you make healthier eating choices while on the road. From breakfast, lunch and dinner, to snacks and hydration while traveling, we’ve got you covered.
Building a Healthy Breakfast
A common issue we see with fast food breakfasts is that they are high in fat and/or added sugar, while being low in protein and micronutrients. Options that I recommend limiting include sweet pastries like danishes, donuts, or cinnamon rolls, and fatty meats like sausage and bacon. Healthier options available at gas stations or most hotels serving continental breakfasts include: fresh fruit, milk, yogurt, eggs, oatmeal, and whole wheat bread.
You can combine several of these items together to make a well-balanced breakfast while traveling. Try to include a source of carbohydrates, healthy fat, lean protein, and produce at each meal. For example, a bowl of oatmeal with milk and nuts like sliced almonds or almond butter mixed in, fresh fruit, and a few hard-boiled eggs. Or whole grain bread with almond butter and banana, along with a bowl of yogurt and berries. Note that you may have to pack items like nuts, trail mix, or nut butter packets to have on hand and add more nutritional value to your meals. If you’re driving through a fast food drive-thru, choose items that include whole grains and lean protein, and pair it with a glass of milk and/or a cup of fruit to add more essential vitamins and minerals.
Lunch And Dinner On The Road
As mentioned with breakfast, you should try to incorporate 4 components at each meal – a source of lean protein, healthy fats, carbohydrates (ideally whole grains or starchy vegetables), and produce (vegetables/fruits). You don’t have to completely swap out your burger for a salad to be considered a healthy option, but you should consider making a few modifications to it to up the nutritional value.
Order a plain hamburger with extra lettuce, onion, tomato, and omit the mayo, or order a grilled chicken sandwich for a leaner protein option. Either instead of fries or in addition to fries, add a side of fresh fruit, apple slices, or a side salad, or to save money, plan ahead and pack some fruit with you in advance. Oftentimes the fresh fruit at fast food restaurants can be pretty expensive, so you’ll have better luck bringing a few apples with you on the road. In place of soda, opt for water or milk. Milk is a simple, easy source of protein when you need to stay energized.
When choosing items on a restaurant menu, especially around training, avoid options that are described as:
-Fried or pan fried
-Breaded or crispy
-Buttery or butter sauce
-Creamy, creamed, or gravy
-Au gratin, or scampi
Opt for items that are described using these words instead, which tend to be lower in fat:
-Steamed, boiled, poached
-Roasted, grilled, Charbroiled
-Marinated in juice
Snacks and Hydration
It’s important to pack healthy snacks with you while traveling, in case you are left with limited options on the road. Items that are easy to pack without needing to be refrigerated include whole grain bagels or bread with nut butter, crackers or pretzels, protein bars, tuna or salmon packets, beef or turkey jerky, fig bars, popcorn, trail mix or nuts, dried edamame, and fruit. Bring a small cooler to stash even more snacks on the road, like hummus, meat and cheese roll-ups, fresh cut up veggies, and yogurt or cottage cheese.
Athletes who are traveling by plane should also be aware of the effect flying has on dehydration levels due to low humidity in the cabin. When flying, make sure to drink plenty of fluids such as water, milk, or an electrolyte-containing beverage. Empty water bottles can be taken through security at airports to refill while traveling.
If you know where you will be eating ahead of time, check out the menu and nutrition information beforehand by looking at their website. Meet with a registered dietitian today to help navigate the best options for you while traveling, and develop a personalized plan that fits your needs and goals even while on the road.