By Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN
We’re three months into 2016. We’re doing pretty well, and then suddenly we see an upcoming challenge: continuing our healthy eating on vacation. Of course we want to enjoy ourselves on vacation, but with all the hard work we’ve put into the year thus far, the goal is to stay on track as much as possible. Although the initial reaction is to panic about how to stay on track during vacation (especially when it comes to the travel piece of it), try not to let it rattle you or your healthy eating efforts. Preparation is everything.
So to help you plan better I want to share with you what comes with me both in my suitcase and purse/carry on whenever I travel.
An on-the-go breakfast for me is a jar of gluten free oats (about 2 cups or so – depending on how long I’m traveling for) with 3-4 tablespoons of chia seeds and 3-4 tablespoons of walnuts. For a few quick and easy breakfasts, just add hot water and some sliced banana and you’re set. All coffee shops have hot water, so don’t be afraid to ask.
I hate to be without snacks, and almond butter (or any other kind of nut butter like cashew butter) is an easy snack either on its own or with something. What I particularly like about the almond butter is that I can count on it because it’s easy to find things to pair it with like an apple, crackers or even by itself. Have 1-2 tablespoons of nut butter with a piece of fruit for a healthy and delicious snack.
I’ll often bring plant-based protein powders (hemp, sprouted rice, pea or a blend like the Reboot with Joe Protein Powder) either purchased in individual packages, or I’ll make a few baggies myself of single serving portions. I find that as a snack mixed with dairy-free milk or water, these kinds of things come very much in handy. I’ll often have clients pack this kind of thing too because they can be counted on to help make a fragmented meal more complete – something that can often happen with travel!
Although we’re often restricted when it comes to taking water bottles on planes, it’s really helpful to have a reusable water container in-tow so that when you arrive at your destination you can stay well-hydrated. I usually use glass water bottles, but when I travel I try to take a stainless steel bottle because then I won’t find broken glass in the bottom of my carry-on.
Look for bars with 3-4 grams protein and/or fiber, along with less than 10 grams of sugar per bar; they should also be about 100-200 calories each. I use these bars between meals or in case there’s a longer stretch between meals than expected. Things always pop up with travel, so it’s really helpful to be prepared. You can also make your own simple homemade granola bar.
Think carrots, celery, sliced cucumber, bell peppers, etc.—these types of things are great because you can get them through security too!
I love nuts. They’re a great snack, easy to bring with you, and great for you too (heart healthy, rich in fiber and more!). One serving of nuts is about 18-20 pieces, so measure out a few servings and portion into a plastic baggie and bring with you for a healthy and easy snack.
Even though you can typically easily find an apple or a banana in the airport, they likely aren’t organic, so bring your own. They pair nicely with the almond butter in your suitcase or even on it’s own,
If you have a short flight, packing an ice pack over juice for your checked luggage is a great idea. Nothing will feel better to drink than a cold juice after a dehydrating flight. Also, many airports are starting to carry HPP (high pressure pasteurized) juices that you can grab and take with you once you’re through security so keep an eye out.
Throwing my favorite veggies together in a mason jar is the perfect light meal. I use either olive oil from the salad bar or bring my own dressing to add to it once I’m ready to eat it. It’s so easy and it’s homemade.
By this point you might think I carry a grocery store with me, which I don’t, but what I find is super important, is just being prepared. You’ll never be sorry to be overly prepared for anything that might come your way, or any meal that you might not have planned for. With careful preparation you can certainly continue to follow your healthy eating plan, go on vacation and enjoy yourself and come back feeling like you stayed on track.