Road trips scream of opening a bag of crisp potato chips, a bottle of soda, and eating two bags of sour gummy worms. We all have our vices when traveling and it’s never easy to say no to the temptation of unhealthy snack foods when sitting, with little to do, in a car or a plane. If you’re traveling to see your loved ones this holiday season, and you’re not prepared before you leave home, it’s all too easy to overindulge in the wide array of unhealthy snacks available at any gas station or airport. Therefore, in order to save yourself hundreds of calories, I have listed three easy tips to Help you Eat Healthy While Traveling During the Holiday Season. (It’s a mouthful, I know). But bear with me! It’s my first blog on Stirlist, you know?
It’s a lot of work to pack yourself a lunch, and you’re right, that pre-made, reheated, starchy airplane food would probably be better than any homemade spinach, tomato, turkey, and feta sandwich or an apple & almond salad that you could make. Let’s be real, it’s always a better idea to save your calories, your wallet, and let yourself to get a little inventive with the food you create. Just be sure to pack that salad in a glass container with a plastic fork and the sandwich in plastic wrap (not a regular metal fork and not tin foil if you have to go through a metal detector). More foods can be taken through security than you may be aware of—just avoid liquid foods such as soups. However, your salad dressing, hummus, or peanut butter can all get through security as long as they are in a 3.4 oz container or smaller and put into your quart-sized plastic bag. Whether you’re on the road or in the air, grab a cooler to put your food into (It can be one of your carry-ons!) and pack it with raw fruits, vegetables, and sandwiches with whole-grain bread. (As stated by the TCA, ice packs are allowed through security as long as they are completely frozen.)
TIP #2 – Don’t let yourself get hungry
Plan ahead. Ask yourself: When am I going to eat? What do I need to have on hand? A two hour flight followed by a three hour layover leaves a LOT of room for temptation. If you consider this in advance, you can pack simple, healthy snacks like pre-sliced cucumber and carrots, apples, bananas, and trail mix. I like to mix together my own trail mix—adding raw almonds, walnuts, chocolate chips, dried cherries, and raisins. Since the calories in any trail mix can add up fast, put 100-150 calorie servings in plastic baggies. If you have snacks that are healthy AND you enjoy eating them, you’ll be much less likely to buy that calorie-packed cinnamon roll the size of your head.
TIP #3 – Strategically plan out the foods you’ll buy
You won’t always be able to pack yourself a meal from home. In that case, make the most of your options. If you are travelling by plane, find a place that has a refrigerator, a good bet is a coffee shop, grab some Greek yogurt and fresh fruit. If you have time, it is always a good idea to consider walking to a different airline’s terminal (check out the airport map before you leave home). Most airports have a major airline hub, and that is where you will find a wider array of food options. Keep a lookout for high fiber and vegetable-filled dishes that will keep you full longer. That could be oatmeal, a multi-grain bagel, a big salad with fruit and grilled chicken, or a hearty vegetable soup.
Overall, maintaining healthy habits while travelling will make your trip as a whole, more enjoyable. However, at the end of the day, don’t be too strict with yourself, it’s the holiday season, for goodness sake! It’s okay to allow yourself to have one high-calorie item per day. This will allow for some indulgence while not breaking your diet prematurely. Remember that Christmas and New Years are just right around the corner. It can be hard to keep with a healthy lifestyle, but stay strong! You’re not alone in this, because I will be taking my own advice as I travel to Hickman, Nebraska this Thanksgiving. Granted, it’s a 30 minute drive, but trust me, this girl can snack! So I will be sure to pack myself something healthy. 🙂 Follow these simple tips and enjoy your Thanksgiving break. Safe travels, everyone!
Liz Merrett is senior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln studying Nutrition & Dietetics.