Friday, November 22, 2013

Tips for Eating Healthy on the Road

We've all been here a time or two: We've just renewed our focus on getting our eating habits back into line, we've joined a gym and started a new routine, and sure enough, our pants are just a tad bit looser. Hallelujah for a new start! Then a vacation/work trip/holiday travel interrupts our progress, and fear attacks. How will we ever manage to get back on track? How can you stay on track, when faced with convenience store nourishment and fast food delectables? How on earth can you maintain your new habits?

Road trip

I'm the first one to tell you, it takes some planning. Healthy eating and traveling do not go together without some forethought. But it can be done, and with less inconvenience than you might think. Here's a few tips for eating healthy while on the road.

Have an itinerary. All trips have some sort of plan. So get with your co-planner(s) and decide what that might look like. It doesn't have to be set in stone, but you need to have some idea what your needs might be. If it is a day trip, you can pack snacks and healthy fare in a cooler. If it is more than that, you'll need to evaluate what’s available at your destination and also what you will need on the way.

Do your research. Again, this doesn't have to be locked down with no wiggle room, but get familiar with the restaurants, fast food options, and grocery stores in the area you are traveling to. Is there a great convenience store chain in the area, like Wawa or Sheetz? What sort of restaurants and fast nibbles do your traveling companions enjoy? If you have children with you, what are their preferences and/or food allergies? Remember that every town has a grocery store, and sandwich meat, salad fixings, and fruit go a long way to creating a meal.

Be flexible. We live in a country with a plethora of food choices. Perhaps you had your heart set on a burrito bowl at Chipotle, but the gang voted for Applebee’s? There are plenty of choices at either for the health conscious, so don't be disheartened. And who knows – maybe you'll discover a new favorite along the way!

Make wise choices. Eating out is rarely the ideal when it comes to food quality and preparation. The exceptions are the rare mom-and-pop restaurants and farm-to-table dining experiences that are becoming popular. If you have food intolerances to contend with, ask for that menu, and let your waiter know what your issues are in clear terms. Ask to speak to the chef, if the restaurant doesn't have an allergen-friendly menu. Look for foods that make sense for your needs: Are you avoiding fried foods? Aiming for more vegetables and less starch? Do you need to be dairy-free? Ask questions of your server or food preparation staff member to be sure you get what you are seeking.

Cafe in the summer

Splurge a little. Remember that your body naturally detoxifies itself. So if you are traveling to the fried chicken capital of the world, it might be a good time to allow some breathing room for your diet restrictions. Eat healthy for breakfast and lunch, and enjoy a special dinner. Give yourself a pass to enjoy time with loved ones, and if food makes that time more pleasurable for you, then perhaps it’s worth the experience to simply sit back and enjoy it, rather than turn it into a minefield of food limitations.

Traveling while eating healthy doesn't have to be a chore! You can have fun with it, enjoy some rare indulgences, and return home and back to your routine in no time.  Routines are mindsets – when you adopt them as part of your lifestyle, taking a day off here and there is no big deal.

Let us know what methods you use to maintain health while you travel. Any favorite tips that have gotten through some odd situations? Share in the comments below!

Contributing Writer

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