Travel Nutrition Priorities
We love traveling at EVOLVE, whether it's a quick weekend in Scout the Van (see figure 1), or jet setting to far off lands.
Exploring new places, cultures, and food is great, but we know that it is easy to feel like travel throws a wrench in all of your awesome, healthy nutrition habits. So, let’s take a moment to break down our nutrition strategies on the road or in the air.
PACK A REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE WITH YOU!
If you are flying, plan on being dehydrated if you aren’t conscious of your hydration. Fill up your water bottle before you go through security. Make a little competition between yourself and TSA to see if you can finish your water bottle before going through security. BAM one bottle done!
Once you are through security, find a water fountain or water bottle refill station. Not only is this keeping you hydrated, but you are also a Green Hero, saving the earth one plastic water bottle at a time. Before you board, drink up and refill again. BAM two bottles done!
On the plane, those dinky little cups the airlines give you are basically child’s play in our hydration game. The pressurized airplane environment is incredibly dehydrating. You should try to get at least 8 - 12 ounces per hour of your flight. Take a 2 hour nap? Doesn't matter, that's still 24 ounces when you wake up.
Also, try to avoid the in-flight cocktails. It's tempting, but alcohol will only further dehydrate you and leave you with a headache.
If you are driving, much of the same advice holds true. You'll avoid the dehydrating atmosphere of a plane, but staying hydrated will keep you alert and feeling good. Often, drowsiness behind the wheel can be linked at least in part to dehydration.
If you have talked to our Registered Dietitian at EVOLVE, you know that fiber is our fourth "macronutrient". Yes, fiber is technically a carbohydrates, but Skittles don't cut it. Fiber is a key player in keeping you regular while traveling, yes I am talking about pooping regularly. Unless you are traveling internationally or to a destination with agriculture restrictions, you can pack your own vegetables and fruit. Security won’t even ask questions, they will just be jelly (jealous) because you planned better for your trip than they do for their day. Some easy packable snacks are: carrots, apples, oranges, snap peas, mini bell peppers, pears, cherry tomatoes. Bonus points if you pack a whole bell pepper and eat it like an apple.
If you forget to plan ahead, most airports now do have vegetables if you look hard enough. Recently, at Newark Airport I found an awesome snack pack of veggies with hummus (major bonus). It also cost about $10.00, sooo it’s an option only if all else fails.
These are super important, especially if you are familiar with Terminal 2 at Sky Harbor Airport. It is the worst place ever. Basically a food desert in our book. Yeah, there is a McDonalds, Wendy’s, Burger King but those aren’t really considered edible food, so therefore... a food desert. Instead of a grease pit full of inflammatory, constipating, processed fats, you should opt for some satisfying, fiber rich nuts, hummus and nut butters. (For further reading, see our post all about healthy fats.)
Here are some easy snack combos: carrots (the ones you packed from above because.... fiber) and hummus, apples (fiber) and nut butter, a handful of pistachios or mixed nuts.
We promote good protein choices on the daily and especially when traveling. This is because carbohydrates and fat are usually easily accessible. Proteins require a bit more planning and prepping, but are key to keeping you satisfied and satiated. So what is a savvy traveler to do?
Hard boiled eggs: These can often be found at any quick mart in an airport, Starbucks or at a convenience store.
Yogurt: Again an easy find at a quick mart at the airport or some convenience stores. Just make sure there is no added sugar!
Edamame: These also fall in the fiber category (BONUS!) and are vegan if that’s more your style.
Bring a high quality protein powder with you. This can be an easy addition to a hotel continental breakfast oatmeal or as a quick and easy shake with a piece of fruit and a few nuts. If you are vegan, this is a great option because there are limited plant protein sources while traveling.
Things that won’t make it through airport security: yogurt, gels, sauces, soups, other liquids like pre-mixed protein drinks. But protein powders are good to go -- just mix with water (in your reusable bottle!)
Once you conquer the airport or the drive, your next task is optimizing at your destination. Depending on where you go, foods that you are accustomed to may be very accessible or not so much. Here are a few of our key guidelines to help you out.
Eat one vegetable focused meal per day. You may not get veggies at every meal like you do at home (you're doing that right?), but if you can get one meal packed with veggies that is better than none.
Hit a grocery store for essentials. No matter where you're staying, even if there is no kitchen, we recommend quickly stopping into a grocery store for some essentials. For us this typically looks like: Some quick lean proteins (greek yogurt, eggs, turkey breast), nuts, fruit, and veggies. If we don't have a kitchen (or even if we do), we often opt for pre-cooked or pre-washed and prepped versions of these to keep things easy.
Treat yo' self: Part of traveling is experiencing a new culture. Whether it is southeast Asia (coconut sticky rice!) or Seattle (heyo artisan ice cream) or even camping (more s’mores please), you don't have to miss out on all of life's indulgences. These are all important food experiences that can connect closer to the places we are visiting and the people who live there. Our pro tip: share it with someone! Don't have a travel buddy? Treat yo self every other day. So, go ahead and indulge, but do it with style. Go for only the best, and enjoy it. (Yeah, a Registered Dietitian just told you to eat coconut sticky rice #norules.)
Drink water: We don’t need to repeat ourselves.
MOVE! Walking, running or biking can all be incredible ways to experience the place you are visiting. Even if you are traveling for work, try to get a workout it. De-stress, and give yourself some YOU time. Download the MINDBODY app to find studios and gyms near where you are staying. Throw your running shoes on and jog around the neighborhood. We have definitely found our share of office parks (a true East Coast special).
Get some sunshine: Getting exposure to natural sunlight helps to reset your circadian rhythm and reduce the effects of changing time zones or jet leg. Get outside during the day, especially in the morning if you can, and you should notice better sleep and quicker adjustment to the new area.
Concerned or confused about fats, carbs, and proteins? Not sure if your current nutritional habits are helping you meet your goals? We’re here to help. Click the button below to schedule a FREE 15-minute strategy session with our Registered Dietitian to develop a plan to meet your goals.