Who has a fun vacation planned this summer? Its a pretty common belief that you cant eat well while traveling, which means most individuals bounce between a diet and a whatever-goes-mentality before, during and after a vacation. First, if you feel you need a vacation from the way you are eating, its too rigid, militant and restrictive to be sustainable. Food, meal patterns and eating habits should be flexible enough that a holiday, vacation, weekend or stressful time doesnt lead to chaotic and/or disordered eating. Second, its completely possible to emphasize nutrient dense food while on vacation – with the flexibility to try local cuisine, new foods and unique menu items – particularly with a little forethought and planning. While your travel plans will dictate what food you can pack vs what food is available, lets run through a hypothetical day to show you what I mean!
Breakfast: This is a meal that could easily be packed and taken with you on the road. You may also have access to a continental breakfast or could shop from some of these ingredients once you make it to your destination. Not only will this start your day off on a nutritious note, it may also save you some money! Some examples include:
- Whole grain English muffin with peanut butter and banana (all easily packed items)
- Quick cooking oatmeal (can find the plain or lower sugar instant packets and just add hot water), fruit (fresh or dried) and nuts.
- Eggs, fruit and whole grain toast with peanut butter or butter (likely all found on a continental breakfast).
- Shelf-stable milk/almond milk with whole grain cereal and fruit
- Yogurt with fruit and granola (if you have a refrigerator and can shop at a local grocery store)
Snacks: It would be a really good idea to keep snacks on hand for when hunger strikes. Getting overly hungry for meals will likely lead to overeating. Instead of waiting for a big restaurant meal, keep yourself well fueled. This will help you stay level headed about food choices! Some convenient ideas would be:
- Bars – Larabars, Kind Bars, Pure Bars, Pro Bars and Rx Bars (need to order that last one online).
- Fruit and nuts
- Cheese stick and fruit
- Veggies and hummus (can find single serving hummus packs!)
- Whole grain crackers and tuna/salmon packets
Lunch: If you do have access to a kitchen or even just a refrigerator, it would be easy to keep sandwich items on hand. If not, keep sandwich shops in mind! You can often order 1/2 sandwich with a salad, which often equates to a balanced meal. You can also refer to the blog for many healthier restaurant/fast food options.
Dinner: This may be a meal you prefer to eat out. No biggie! You can keep in mind the balanced plate as you order: choose a protein (about the size of the palm of your hand), a carbohydrate (about the size of your fist), a fat (about the size of 1-2 thumbs) and a vegetable. You also have the option (and I LOVE this option!) of ordering what you really want and listening to your fullness signals to know when to stop eating. This is an invaluable skill to cultivate; it will enable you to trust yourself in any situation and with any food.
When my family travels, we choose to book lodging through Airbnb. While it may be slightly more expensive to book a condo, small home or apartment, we have access to a kitchen and can easily save $100s in food cost by cooking/preparing some meals at home. It also makes room for more nutritious choices and we look forward to eating meals out without getting sick of restaurant food. We would have a hard time staying at a hotel now!
We do hope your plans include a trip to see us. Either way, happy traveling!
Emily Fonnesbeck RD, CD