Eating On the Road Again

on the road againThere's nothing like traveling to transform you into a raving bottomless pit of cravings. Travel can be stressful, inconvenient and tiring, so it's easy to forget all our good intentions while en route. And it can be hard to find healthy food on the road if you don't know what to look for. Travel forces us off our schedules, throws monkey wrenches into our eating plans and generally disrupts our decision-making ability. But there is one way to banish this diet devil and that is to simply plan ahead.

Here are my effective strategies for those times when you look in the rearview mirror and a giant hamburger is chasing you. They hold true whether you're riding in planes, trains or automobiles, for business or pleasure.

Stay Strong. It's easy when you're on the road to make bad choices and simply write them off as "survival" ("I'd never eat that at home." "I had no choice!"). It's understandable, but really, you're only fooling yourself. Whether you're hopping in the car for a day of family adventure or heading for the daily grind on your commute, have a game plan and visualize your day in advance: a healthy lunch stop? A good snack packed? A day or part of a day, on the road shouldn't mean extra calories or extra volume. So even while you're traveling, try to keep your day as consistent as a day at home.

Snack Packs. Strategic snacking is one of the cornerstones of a successful healthy-eating plan. Pack some healthy snacks before you leave the house. Snacks will help you keep a regular eating schedule and save you when you're miles from food, but starving. It's tempting to munch away as you cover the miles, but just because the snacks are healthy doesn't mean they don't have calories and they don't count. Think portable single-serve packets of satisfying, healthy snacks. Some of my favorites include Somersault Sunflower Seed Bites, 100-calorie packs of almonds, healthy bars, hand fruit (apple, pear, etc.) and plastic bags of cut-up veggies. And don't forget to pack water! 

Don't Be Fooled by Fatigue. Many trips include stretches of fatigue and we can often mistake fatigue for hunger. Don't seek solace in carbs, no matter how strong your inclination. Try a quick workout, a brief shower or a brisk walk around the neighborhood. Also, remember dehydration can make you feel tired. Keep your water bottle handy.

Stay Active. Whether you'r on a car trip or a long flight, it's important to take stretch breaks. And look for hotels that have fitness centers. Traveling can actually create an opportunity for you to exercise - no dog to walk, no cooking to do, no homework to supervise. Get up a little early and squeeze in a workout, even if it's just twenty quick minutes, you'll get a terrific head start to your day. Exercise is a great way to smooth out the bumps in any road and make you feel more settled and in control.  

Brown Bag is Best. When traveling by car, bus or train, it's easy to bring along your food. When you pack it yourself, you can control your food and sidestep roadside calorie disasters. Brown bagging makes it easier for your to stick to your regular eating schedule. The food is ready when you are. This also prevents the delayed meals that can erode your determination to eat well. 

Hydrate. Keeping up with your fluids really helps your digestion, which can become sluggish when you travel. We know that plenty of fluids gives your metabolism the boost it needs to keep firing along at a nice calorie-burning rate. It also keep your immune system strong. While travel can take a toll, with lack of sleep, cramped spaces, and free-range germs, extra water will keep your defenses operation at peak performance. Hydrating also keeps you feeling full and less likely to overeat. So pack your water bottle and sip regularly.

These strategies will help all travelers stick to their diet resolutions.

 


Heather Bauer, RD CDN
Heather Bauer, RD CDN

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