Travel has a funny way of managing to derail your diet. But what happens on the road (we’re talking to you, fried food and diet soda), doesn’t stay on the road. Those unhealthy choices add up.
Whether you’re heading on a road trip or hopping on a plane, here are a few ways to stay on track when you’re traveling.
Don’t start on empty
You wouldn’t pull out of the driveway without gas in the tank, so why would you set off on your trip without feeding yourself? Have a balanced meal or snack before you go so you’re not tempted by unhealthy rest stop, convenience store, or fast food chain offerings. Even if that means an apple and some almonds in the cab on the way to the airport, make it happen.
Grab easy, on-the-go healthy travel snacks
These quick, nutritious bites can help you stay sated.
- Nuts and seeds: The combination of fiber, fat, and protein, will keep your blood sugar, mood, and energy stable. Added bonus: Nuts may help you keep your weight in check. Plus, nuts and seeds barely take up any room — perfect for when you need to pack light.
- Yogurt: Calcium soothes the nervous system and the protein it contains helps you stay full. Choose plain if available to avoid excess calories from sugar, and instead add cinnamon, a sprinkle of nuts, or half of a banana.
- Hard-boiled eggs: Eggs offer instant portion control. Two will set you back just 150 calories, while providing 10 grams of satiating protein.
- Cheese: Like yogurt, cheese offers protein and calcium. Single-serve options like sticks, wedges, and string cheese make portion control a no-brainer. Some rest stops, convenience stores, and airports sell fruit and cheese boxes so you can enjoy a balanced snack on-the-go. Just be sure to peak at the number of servings per container before diving in.
- Fruit: Grapes, apples, oranges, and bananas all travel well and provide filling fiber, plus a touch of sweetness to help you resist the siren call of the candy display. If you’re squeamish about fruit touching other stuff in your bag, look for something with a peel or keep washed fruit in its own Ziploc or pouch.
- Sliced vegetables: Peppers, celery, sliced cucumber, and baby carrots travel well and provide satisfying crunch, not to mention filling fiber. You can enjoy alone or pair with a boiled egg, a piece of cheese, or hummus.
- A simple sandwich: A humble turkey sandwich with lettuce and tomato on whole grain bread will set you back around 250 to 300 calories — that’s less than some candy bars. The combo of protein and carbs will keep you feeling good, and the tryptophan in the turkey will soothe travel-related stress. Another option: Split a higher-calorie sandwich with a travel companion or save half for later.
- A protein bar: They can help fill in the gaps between meals on long trips. Look for a minimally-processed one with at least 4 grams each of fiber and protein, with ideally less than 5 grams sugar. Try KIND Bars, Chia Warrior Bars, Perfect Bars, and Lara Bars.
- Popcorn: This is a great option if you like to munch on something that takes a long time to eat. Aside from being lower in calories than a lot of other snack items, popcorn is a whole grain that provides a lot of fiber. Added bonus: It’s easy to find single-serving bags.
Mild dehydration can be mistaken for hunger and make you feel sluggish. Drink plenty of water and seltzer when traveling, especially if you’re flying. Go slow with coffee, as too much caffeine can be dehydrating — and make you feel like you have to pee every 10 minutes. Another tip: Milk or a cappuccino made with skim or low-fat milk provides some protein to tide you over if you don’t like any of the food options on the road or at the airport.