How to Eat Healthy When You Travel - Part 1: Travel Snacks & Packing List
Since I fly every few weeks, I’ve gotten the travel routine down to a science. Being away from home and simply being off of the usual routine can de-rail your efforts to live healthy, without the proper planning.
In this two-part blog post, I’m going to share my best strategies on how I address special dietary needs, eating healthy, and making sure I don't get sick while I’m away from home. Food is a great place to start. By sticking to the most whole, real food diet you can while you’re on the road, you’ll create less stress on your body and on your adrenals, preventing strain on your immune system and detox ability.
A healthy trip starts with packing. If you do nothing else, do this step right! The best packable travel foods include protein + healthy fat and are made of high quality - organic if possible - ingredients. Great travel foods are also generally immune to melting or temperature changes and can be tossed around or squished a bit. Ideally, they're low in sugar (natural or processed).
Here are some ideas:
Epic Bars or Chomps Sticks - Jerky - Soy-free, sugar-free and both available at Trader Joe’s
Apple slices & single-serving nut butter
Roasted or raw nuts. Read ingredient labels: There can often be added nasties & oils. Be careful of over-consuming.
Dried fruit. Eat sparingly & mix with nuts to avoid blood sugar swings. Avoid added sugar.
Fresh fruit or veggies that don’t bruise. Clementines, carrots, apples are great choices.
Single-serve packs of hummus or guacamole (available at Costco)
RX Bars (Chocolate, Pumpkin Spice, Coconut Chocolate). Eat sparingly as a snack/dessert- they’re date-sweetened and can cause blood sugar swings in huge amounts. Available at Trader Joe’s.
Tuna packets or smoked salmon
Single-serving coconut oil packs (Trader Joe’s)
Baby food. You heard me: baby food squeeze packs are your friend - they’re delicious and some of them even come loaded with coconut oil!
Collagen protein powder, Single serving - easily digestible protein.
Also: throw in a glass leak-proof container. This will come in handy when you’re on the go or need to store food for later in the week.
What about TSA?
Surprisingly, they’re ok with a lot of things, including frozen items (I’ve taken ice packs through security) as well as anything canned. You can even carry whole meals through - I’ve even brought Chipotle or carry-out sushi (purchased on my way to the airport) for eating while I fly, which beats calling that little packet of pretzels lunch. TSA does fuss a little about protein powders in large enough quantities, so if you’re bringing anything like this, I’d suggest removing it from your luggage and sending it on the conveyor separately to avoid a full-blown luggage search (when you leave it in your bag). They might swab test it to verify it’s not explosive.
If you're driving, you're in luck. Make sure you have a big cooler, an ice pack, and some eating utensils. With enough space, you may as well pack and take the kitchen sink! I've had my eye on a Yeti cooler for some time - these are coolers that stay cold or icy for for days.
Stay hydrated while you’re flying or driving. Forget the free drinks and/or sodas on the flight - sugar actually has the effect of suppressing the immune system.
De-Stress & Mindset.
Get the Calm app, start up a free meditation, and start your trip on the right foot. Most people consider travel stressful, so let's just mind-shift: what if you could come out of your air/car travel time feeling like you just spent that time at the spa? It's uninterrupted time to focus on you and forget all of the things you need to do. Your goal is to finish this flight/car ride feeling like a million bucks, so what will that take? Think about that and pack or do accordingly.
Close your eyes, and focus on breathing (inhale for 4 counts, hold for 4, exhale for 8). Reset the mind, and visualize your happy place (and hey, you don’t have to talk to the guy in seat 11B if you don’t want to - this is you time!). See if you can focus all of your effort on relaxing every single muscle you have, from head to toe. Then, pop those earbuds in, turn on a good playlist, and go away for a little while!
Take breaks every 90-120 minutes, since this is the length of the ultradian cycle that dictates our high to low energy cycles throughout the day. Walk around for a few minutes during that break, and stretch out the hips and legs. Listen to an interesting podcast or music you love. You’ll feel more alert, refreshed, and ready to take on the world when you arrive!
Protect against radiation. If you’re flying, consider upping your intake of antioxidants & colorful foods to help your body function optimally despite the stress of traveling. This supports detox and immune function; because we get attacked by tons of free radicals & radiation when flying, antioxidants combat that. You can enhance your body's protection from radiation & free radicals through supplements (green tea, zinc, reseveratrol, quercetin, cur cumin), with a single easy drink mix (similar to this one), and/or by eating lots of brightly colored fruits and veggies. Think berries!
Layover airport food.
Here’s a general rule: Don’t expect to find food in the airport.
This is especially true if you have strict dietary restrictions due to a health condition. There are definitely exceptions, but you can always carry it into the airport with you or get by on snacks until you arrive. Worst-case, you can usually find a bare-bones salad from some of the kiosks (just expect it to cost $15). In a pinch, or if I’m really hungry, I’ll hit up common places like Potbelly or Panera-like joints in the airport for a basic salad that is generally safe from gluten or dairy cross-contamination.
Join me for Part II of the Healthy Travel Series, where we'll talk about what you can do when you land, and how to eat out during your travel week.