Fitness Facts: Healthy travel
By Liz Cook
Registered Dietitian, Canyon Health and Wellness Clinic
The holidays are coming, which means lots of traveling for many of us. Whether it’s a weeklong trip across the country or just a road trip for a long weekend, travel can really shake up our normal routines and leave us feeling a mess. Today I’m sharing some tips to help you feel your best while enjoying some time away.
This doesn’t mean you have to hit the gym every day or go for a jog outside. Taking a walk with family or friends can be a great way to fit in a few extra steps while spending quality time together. If you’re visiting an area you’ve never been before it’s also a great way to take in the new scenery.
If you’re waiting for your flight in the airport, take a lap around the terminal to fit in some pre-flight steps. Any movement is good movement! Stretching is also key, especially after a long road trip or flight. Take five minutes to stretch out first thing in the morning or before getting into bed at night, and let your muscles loosen up.
You won’t catch me saying “eat healthy” or “eat clean” or “watch what you eat” when it comes to traveling and experiencing the holidays. Eating well is going to mean something a little bit different for everyone, but to me it really just means eating what is going to make you feel good, what going to fuel your activities for the day, and what tastes good.
Here are a few more specific tips for eating well:
- Stock up on snacks: A long day of traveling can leave you hungry, tired, depleted and primed to make a not-so-healthy choice. If you’re heading out on a road-trip that is more than a few hours long, pack some snacks like healthier bars, nuts, trail mix, fruit, veggies or air-popped popcorn. If you’re heading onto a longer flight, grab a healthier snack or two before getting onto the plane. Some good ideas to grab in the airport and take on board are fruit cups, hummus and pretzel cups, greek yogurts or healthier bars.
- Do a little research: If you’re going to be eating out, whether it’s along the way or at your final destination, it can be helpful to look up menus ahead of time. Before picking a place for your meal, check out what they have to offer, think about what you really want, and go in with at least a little bit of a plan. We’re much less likely to make a “bad” decision ahead of time than we are when we’re sitting in the booth starving.
- Share your food: If you’re eyeing up a couple different things, split them so you can try a little bit of everything. When it comes to “less healthy” options such as fried foods and desserts, put the portion you want on a plate instead of just mindlessly eating from the main plate or bowl until it’s gone. Even if you decide to go in for a second helping, you are making a decision for more, not just munching on autopilot! Having a little bit of a lot of different things is totally fine. The issues come when we have a lot of a lot of different things.
- Stick with what you know – sometimes: Don’t feel as if you have to get something extravagant every single time. It is absolutely OK to order something just like what you would make at home. It is definitely fun to branch out and try new things sometimes, but not every meal needs to be something totally new, different and exciting. If you really just want something like you would make for yourself at home – get it! Take the pressure off yourself and get what you truly want, even if it’s a “boring” choice.
- Eat your fruits and veggies: You’re probably not going to eat the same volume of fruits and veggies that you would at home on a normal day, but be mindful of making sure to get some in where you can. Try to get some fruit with breakfast and at snacks and a vegetable or two at lunch and dinner. Traveling can throw off our digestion, but making sure to get some fiber in is key to avoiding those issues. If it doesn’t happen at every meal, don’t sweat it, but make an effort to get these in when you can.
- 2 + 1: This formula is the key to balanced eating while traveling, especially over the holidays. Out of the three meals you eat each day, aim for two “healthier” options and one less healthy, more “fun” option. Now that doesn’t mean eating next to nothing at breakfast and lunch and way overdoing it at dinner every day. It means that when you’re deciding what to eat at each meal you should be thinking about what you really want but also being mindful of the other things that you have eaten that day. The big goal here is to make sure you are enjoying the foods that you are eating, fueling your body properly and feeling good about what you’re eating. Side note: This is clearly a simplified formula; adding a snack or two can be a helpful way to stay fueled throughout your travels.
- Stay hydrated: We’re often on the go when traveling and might not be drinking as much water as we should be. Make water a priority. I do this by carrying a water bottle with me everywhere I go. Did you know that you can take an empty water bottle with you through airport security? The terminals always have water fountains and water bottle filling stations to refill once you get through. If you’re staying in a hotel, check the lobby or the hotel gym for a water cooler or water fountain to refill there. If you’re out shopping and stop for a coffee, ask the barista to refill your bottle. They are always happy to help – sometimes all you have to do is ask!
- Relax, breathe, enjoy: Traveling should be fun. Time with family should be relaxing. Exploring new places should be exciting. Memories should be created on trips. Being mindful of our bodies and what they are asking for is a great thing, but stressing, controlling and being anxious about your diet is another. Stay mindful, but allow yourself the space to relax, breathe and enjoy your trip!