Dietitian Mary Purdy shares some tips for eating healthy while on the road…
If I had a nut for every time I’ve heard “Well, I’ll be traveling next week so I probably won’t be eating very healthy”, I’d have enough gorp to get me through about 27 hikes. Let me say upfront, some do not want to watch what they eat while on their latest jet setting adventure. I honor and understand that. I just got back from Spain where I probably had more cheese in 8 days than I have had in 8 months. However, it must not be assumed that eating healthy is an impossibility during travel times. Quite the contrary. Eating well can fortify your tourist tendencies by giving you an extra burst of nourishment, making that additional sightseeing trip more likely to happen. Below are 5 easy and simple tips to boost your bod on your next excursion.
- If your trip will include access to a kitchen/fridge, before you go check if there is a local market or grocery near where you are staying. Stocking up on even a few food items can be a great way to ensure that you have some fresh fruit and veggies, which are very often the least consumed food groups during travel days. In addition to purchasing some money-saving, common staples like eggs, yogurt and fresh bread, simple things like apples, bananas or oranges or some native/ local fruity goodness can help fill out a breakfast. And tomatoes, cucumbers or carrots can all make for lovely little mid-day snacks.
- Bring healthy snacks in your on-the-go bag for the plane or day trips. This can be as simple as a basic nut and seed bar (my faves are Health Warrior, LaraBar, RxBar or Kind) or you can create your own concoction of nuts and dried fruit. (P.S. get out of your nut rut and try a pecan or hazelnut for gosh sake! And for those of you who get stopped up on your journeys, prunes can be your belly’s best friend.) These stop gap snacks can also be a variety of ready-to-go goodies like packaged olives, Mary’s Gone Crackers or Flackers with a little portable nut butter. For you extra protein seekers out there, roasted chickpeas or crunchy edamame snacks can work – or if a little animal protein feels super fortifying, Epic bars may fit the bill.
- Stay hydrated. It’s easy to not to get enough fluids when traveling as your access to drinks may be limited, and you may be purposely avoiding them at times to minimize trips to the loo. Not only can dehydration be unhealthy, but it can also drive us to crave and eat less healthy foods. This begins on the plane where it’s especially easy to become dehydrated. Say yes to those extra waters offered by the flight attendants and be careful of imbibing too much coffee and alcohol. Bring a water bottle so you can fill up wherever possible. If the taste of water doesn’t float your boat, then bring some water flavor packets. I enjoy True Lemon and nuun , the latter of which can help with electrolyte replacement if you are journeying to a spot that brings out the sweat in you. Remember that fruits and vegetables can also help with hydration. See Tip #1!
- If you are heading to a non-English speaking country, learn some basic foodie phrases in the native language so you can communicate with your waiter/host. Aside from the requisite “please and thank you”, even simple words like “without”, “less”, or “allergy” can help minimize issues with items you are trying to avoid. On recent trips, being able to say “tengo alergia a la soja” (“I have a soy allergy” in Spanish) “tanpa gula” (“without sugar” in Indonesian) or “moins d’huile s’il vous plaît” (“less oil please” in French) was immeasurably helpful for me and my husband. You can also request “Mas verduras, por favor!” More vegetables please, which got us cucumbers in place of bread for our hummus at a Moroccan restaurant.
- Bring support! New foods, questionable foods, and too much good food can all leave your belly in a twist, so arming yourself with some digestive aids can make a big difference to your comfort level. Bringing probiotics can be a helpful aid for both your GI tract and overall immune function. Jarro-dophilus is a brand that is great for trips. Digestive enzymes can also offer a bit of support as you navigate foreign gastronomical territory. Enzymedica is a good brand, and I have found that for the gluten-free traveler, being armed with Gluten Digest or some equivalent may be helpful for unintended (or intended and hopeful!) consumption. As mentioned above, if you tend towards constipation while traveling (very common, especially with women) bringing some magnesium citrate can help keep the bowels moving. Be careful not to overdo it as you may wind up on the other side, and that’s no fun either!
Culinary experimentation while traveling can be a great way to explore the culture, but doesn’t have to mean you come home needing to do a detox. Simple strategies for supporting your health periodically while you adventure can make your trip even more invigorating and energizing. Your brain, body and wallet will all thank you.
Mary Purdy, (MS, RDN), integrative registered dietitian, is the host of the web series & podcast “Mary’s Nutrition Show” and author of the recently published book “Serving the Broccoli Gods.” She was in private practice for 8 years and spent 3 years as adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at Bastyr University. Currently, she works full time at Arivale where she has spent the last 3 years as a Coach and Clinical Education Lead providing nutrition and lifestyle counseling to clients using personalized genetic data and functional blood labs. She has presented at professional nutritional conferences, given over 100 nutrition workshops, been featured on KUOW and quoted in dozens of magazines including Prevention, Food and Nutrition and Today’s Dietitian. She loves all vegetables except zucchini and yellow squash which she avoids at all costs. Visit Mary’s website or you hang out with her and her community on Facebook.