Traveling this Memorial Day weekend? Already planning your summertime family excursions? Attending your son or daughter’s college graduation on another coast? Dare I say planning the s’mores for that campout next month?
All fun things…YES…but at the same time, planning these mobile activities may cause you to worry about how you will manage the inherent disruption to your healthy eating habits! On-the-go can often equate to poor, sugary choices (YOU KNOW THAT…. but you may still think it will be hard to say NO when you are out and about, and that you will be faced with seemingly limited healthy choices).
You’ve been maintaining a healthy weight, and you are improving your blood sugar levels… you are realizing what feeling good means for your energy levels… and then – BOOM! – you are eating airline food, snacking on fast food, and carb-loading on that free continental breakfast! Yikes!
So what do you do?
Well, I travel a lot. A LOT. And do you know that I eat just as healthy while traveling as I do at home? There are a lot of things you can do to stay on track, so I thought this was a good time to share with you what I have learned!
Here are 4 tips for how to eat healthy and control your blood sugar while you travel.
- Plan ahead: Make the commitment to yourself that you aren’t going to compromise. Before you go on your trip there are things you should plan for. Having clarity on your goals for your life will make your travel plans that much easier to make.
- Plan to prepare your own food: Find a hotel with a kitchenette or a fridge. They are becoming more and more available. It makes food preparation so much easier!
- Find healthy meal options if you will be eating out: Scout out healthy food options along your travel route, hotel, etc., using travel sites and your own research searching for restaurants serving, “vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, …etc.” Happy Cow is one such site.
- Reserve healthy meals provided by transportation: If traveling by plane or train, you can reserve a vegetarian, gluten-fee, low sodium meal, but bring a backup salad, cut veggies, or other healthy snacks in case they don’t come through with your special request. Sometimes even these choices aren't always the healthiest anyway. I actually prefer to make my own foods and bring them on the plane. You can listen to what types of healthy food are easy to bring through security in this audio.
- Bring an empty re-usable water bottle on the plane: To get through security, it needs to be empty. Then fill it up the first chance you get with some filtered water. Hydration is key while traveling (a thirsty body will trigger the craving for food!), and you can add your favorite protein powder or powdered greens, should you want to. Staying properly hydrated is also commonly cited as a course of treatment to help avoid the nausea, lethargy, sluggishness, headache, and fogginess associated with jet lag.
- Plan for exercise: See if you can find a hotel that includes a pool and/or gym so you can maintain a little of your exercise routine. Or add physical activities to your itinerary (walk to the museum versus taking that cab!). Pack your exercise clothes and athletic shoes (no using “I only brought flip-flops” as your excuse for not exercising for the week!). There are also small pieces of exercise equipment you can easily include in your packing that you can use in your hotel room, or wherever you are, such as a jump rope or resistance bands. I include some examples in my Fitness Video Library, which is included as part of many of my programs.
- Plan some downtime: If you are like me… literally always on the go… you might forget to stop and just take a moment to unwind. Even when traveling for fun, it is important not to let schedules or family gatherings stress you out. Stress can trigger blood sugar imbalances and make you feel bad. Plan to alternate activities. If you are on the beach or traveling in a car all week, plan some aerobic adventures, like a nice hike or bike ride.
- Bring your kitchen with you (well, not literally…)
- Bring your own cooler! You can bring a cooler with you packed with ice packs. I recently went to Florida to see my son graduate, and did quite a bit of driving over several days. I brought along my old cooler that I bought at a drugstore some 15 years ago! It made such a difference in how we ate (and felt!). They also make electric versions that you can plug into both your car as well as in the hotel room.
- Make it a picnic stop versus a fast food stop! Have a healthy lunch packed in your cooler, and bring utensils, paper plates, napkins, a cutting knife, and maybe a picnic blanket… you will be ready to take a picnic break when hunger strikes. Then you can include some fun into your travel time!
- Pack some of your favorite non-perishable foods to bring with you from home (protein powder, nuts, seeds, dehydrated foods, chia seed crackers, almond nut butter, etc.).
- At your destination, make your “fast food” stop a nearby grocery store, and load-up on the healthy perishable foods your family already loves. You may even find some new items!
- Consider packing an inexpensive blender for making healthy smoothies and juices in your hotel (if there is a freezer you can freeze smoothies and bring them along in the car for a special treat).
- Eat smart (if you can’t prepare it, stay mindful and at least order healthy options)
- Don’t eat a lot of small meals – this is hard on your blood sugar; better to eat 3 regularly scheduled meals.
- Eat a healthy breakfast. Faced with high-carb buffets? Stick with high quality protein in the form of leafy greens and veggies, plus nuts and seeds. Include fruit if you feel your blood sugar can handle it. This will fuel you, keep your blood sugar steady, and keep you feeling fuller longer.
- Watch the preparation methods! While fresh salads, juices, and smoothies are ideal for your summer travels, including lightly steamed or warm cooked foods will still help you to maintain lots of energy and low blood sugars.
- Get those dressings and sauces on the side (or not at all): They contain lots of hidden fats and sugars, as well as many other undesirable ingredients.
- Beware of added sugars: Fast food sodas, shakes, fries…all have hidden sugars that will make your blood sugar spike. Also the fat, gluten, and dairy will add to the belly fat and brain fog, not to mention the fatigue. You want to be able to have non-stop energy on your vacation travels, not slumped in your room.
- Stay away from fast food altogether: Here is an interesting website that shows the menu/calorie information on many of the most popular fast food chains. Ugh!
- Keep your routine
- Hydrate! Just because you are on vacation doesn’t mean you stop drinking your daily H2O! And water isn't the only way to stay hydrated. Coconut water is also a natural source of electrolytes and potassium, both of which help you stay in shape and energized.
- Be sure to incorporate movement into each day: There are easy ways to incorporate burst training and other movement into your day even while on vacation.
- Minimize the alcohol: An unhealthy habit that will pack on the calories and impact your blood sugar tremendously. It also dehydrates you.
- Sleep: Even while traveling, you need at least 7 hours of sleep, and sleep disruption is common, especially when you are traveling across time zones. Bring a sleeping mask and earplugs along if you are a light sleeper, and consider taking melatonin supplements for a few days before retiring as well.
- Continue your usual supplementation: Don’t forget your probiotics, digestive enzymes, and other supplements when you travel! In particular, bring supplements you may take for immune health, such as zinc or vitamin C. Your practitioner might actually advise bumping up probiotics as well as antioxidants, depending on the region or the part of the world you are traveling in.
- Test your blood sugar: If you have a routine of testing your blood glucose with a glucose meter, bring it with you and do your regular testing.
Hopefully I’ve given you some good ideas to show you that eating healthy while traveling can be done!
And, as a final note, I invite you to take a road-trip yourself in June to come and meet me at my 3 day Spring Into Vitality event in beautiful, sunny Austin!
This is a great opportunity to learn more ways to balance your body systems, such as blood sugar, adrenal glands, and other hormones. You can also upgrade to a VIP status which includes delicious, organic meals for the entire event (plus lot of other goodies, including an exclusive meet and greet). If you want to learn more about the Spring Into Vitality conference, check all the information here. And consider bringing a friend! You can go on the road-trip of a lifetime – together!