When you’re on the go, it can be tough to dine like a real adult, let alone a healthy one. And while quick-and-easy clean-eating dinner recipes will get you through busy periods at home, what about while you’re traveling? From airport restaurants to fast food, it would seem that well-rounded eating is *completely* impossible. Not so! And even better, you don’t have to skip the cultural flavors of your host city in the name of health. You just need a little preparation, creativity, and willpower.
What to eat on the plane (or in the car)
The first factor to sabotage any well-intentioned eating plan is impulse purchases, so think ahead! Snacks and good timing are the keys to enduring long travel times without a blood sugar crash.
Before you head out the door, fill up on a wholesome meal that contains protein, fat, and healthy carbohydrates. Actually, this going to be an important concept throughout your trip, because getting all three macronutrients is key to avoiding hunger pangs that lead to overindulgence. Some options: turkey breast with olive oil-drizzed broccoli and a sweet potato; buckwheat pancakes with grass-fed butter and two eggs; or a heaping helping of oatmeal made with almond milk, berries, chia seeds, and nuts.
Another crucial thing to do before you leave is pack some snacks. Fruit, nuts, cheese (if you tolerate dairy), whole-grain crackers (if you tolerate gluten), rice crackers (if you don’t), and pre-made smoothies are all fantastic options — though if you’re flying, you’ll need to skip the smoothie option, as you can’t usually bring liquids on a plane. Whatever you choose, just make sure you pack *enough* snacks — that airplane food is going to look pretty tempting if you’re hangry.
How to order at restaurants
So, you’ve made it through airport security, survived hours on a plane (or in a car), and now you’re at your destination. Finally, it’s time to chow-down on some food!!
But it’s important to choose the healthiest options available. Here we go again with the “protein, fat, carbohydrate” trifecta. If you eat a light salad devoid of protein at dinner, you’re going to be REAL hungry come 11pm when you and your friends are out on the town, three bottles of wine in (more on that in a minute). So don’t be scared to order a real, hearty meal. Instead of focusing on eating LIGHT, focus on eating WHOLE — whole grains, protein-packed meats, fruits, veggies… you get the picture. (And by the way, burger buns and fries are *not* whole grains and veggies, sorry.)
A few options you can find on almost any restaurant menu:
- Salad loaded with vegetables and chicken breast (ask for balsamic dressing or olive oil/vinegar on the side).
- Roasted chicken breast with vegetables. If you’re at a bar, get creative and order a grilled chicken sandwich without the bun. Substitute a salad or veggies for your fries.
- Steak with roasted potatoes and veggies.
- Sushi that’s not filled with fried crunchy bits (think sashimi and more traditional styles).
- Vegetarians: Asian cuisine is going to be your BFF. Go for non-fried rice dishes, such as curries. Get tofu for extra protein oomph.
Order the healthiest boozy drinks
Now about those nights out. Whether you’re traveling for work or pleasure, alcohol is almost always on the schedule. Choose the healthiest booze options, such as red wine, Champagne, or clear spirits mixed with soda water. Try to avoid beer — as delicious as it is, it’s not great to have more than one or two if you’re thinking about your health. If you absolutely must have a beer-like bevvie, spring for a dry cider.
Sample local flavor — in moderation
Of course, no one wants to go to Italy and order bun-free burgers all week long. For a lot of us, one of the most enjoyable parts of traveling is getting to sample the local fare.
Before your trip, thoroughly research your host city’s dining scene to see what you want to try. If the “in” restaurants are vegan cafes and raw oyster bars, you’re in luck! You can enjoy the majority of the fare to your heart’s content. But if you’re visiting, say, Chicago, where the local scene is flooded with gourmet burgers, gourmet donuts, and the like, pick one restaurant that you absolutely CANNOT miss and savor an indulgent meal there.
For the rest of your trip, don’t just focus on local eats — focus on REALLY local eats. Yep, we’re talking about farm-to-table restaurants. These locations often showcase the best produce and free-range meats of a particular location, meaning they’re often healthy, wholesome, and totally delicious.
And besides, even if you don’t order all the world-famous novelty desserts for yourself, you can always snag a bite of your pals’ treat.
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