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Growing up in Chicago, I remember that this was the time of the year the lingering grey of the Midwest winter would start to fade and we would experience a touch of relief from the cold winter as the sun would start to make a sporadic and brief appearance. This always signaled to me that spring, and more importantly, spring break travels were coming.

Although I love traveling to different places, there is always an associated risk of getting a ‘food hangover’ or that terrible feeling you have after eating not just too much but too much junk food. And typically, it leaves you feeling unsatisfied and uncomfortable. This is why it is important to have a plan ready to keep you eating healthy and feeling at your best.

Follow my tips below to keep your eating habits up to par on your travels:

Stay hydrated

Sip water or another calorie free beverage throughout the day to keep you hydrated on the plane. This will help control hunger, help you better regulate your body temperature, and keep your skin supple.  Often times it’s hard to distinguish between thirst and hunger cues. So drink a glass of water before snacking to see if that’s what you really need.

bottled water

If you’re still hungry after 15 minutes, go ahead and enjoy a healthy snack. Also, sip throughout your meals and you’ll eat more slowly giving you time to recognize you’re full before you go overboard. Skipping sweetened beverages will save you calories and will help you avoid a dreaded sugar crash.

Pack healthy snacks

There are a lot of temptations in airports, gas stations, and other potential places you may stop during your travels. You may decide to go with the candy bar, pack of sugared donuts, or cheeseburger as a snack if you don’t have any other options. Think ahead and pack some healthy options to provide you something to eat if you’re hungry or even a low calorie snack to eat if you know you are going to be eating out of boredom. Bag up some pistachios, almonds, or other nuts, throw in a pack of baby carrots, durable fruit that is less likely to get mushy and unappetizing like an apple or orange, a granola bar that is low in added sugars, protein packed beef jerky, a reduced fat string cheese, a pack of oatmeal you only need to add hot water to, or something more sustainable like a a peanut butter and jelly sandwich made on whole wheat bread.

whole wheat bread sandwich

Don’t starve yourself

Don’t just try to fight added calories through starvation during your day of travel. You will inevitably have to eat again, and when you do, you are going to eat a lot and you are going to be innately driven to eat whatever is high calorie and sounds delicious to you because you’ll be so desperate for energy. You probably won’t feel so good afterwards either. Not to mention, if you’re anything like me, you’ll become irritable if you’re that ravenously hungry. I don’t think anyone wants that even if you are traveling alone.

Stock up

Once you arrive at your destination, start scoping out the surrounding area for a grocery store so you can stock up on bottled water or other calorie free beverages, healthy snacks, and easy and nutritious breakfasts. This will not only make it easy to get through the day without becoming hungry or snacking on fries, nachos, and chips, but will also save you some money from having to purchase a bunch of marked up snack foods and beverages from the hotel store. Again, healthy snacking throughout the day will prevent you from overdoing it at dinner.

Choose healthy options at restaurants

One of the best things about travel is that you get the pleasure of hitting up the local restaurant scene, but it can be tricky to figure out what the healthy options are. Things to look for in an entrée include grilled, baked, or broiled protein options. Grilling, baking, or broiling uses heat treatment and usually spices or a light marinade for flavor, not oils, butter, or grease. Dishes with cream or cheese based sauces as the main element will also be calorie bombs that are high in fat and saturated fat as well. Salads with lots of bacon, cheese, and rich dressings can be a calorie and fat trap as well. You may also want to ask for the dressing or sauces on the side so you can control how much you are adding.

restaurant hotel

But don’t get so caught up in eating healthy that you forget you are traveling to places with different and or new exciting flavors.  Don’t deprive yourself of an amazing culinary experience if there is a dish that sounds appealing to you -- just plan out your other meals, snacks and drinks during the day accordingly to balance out your calorie and fat intake.

What is your favorite way to stay healthy when you travel?

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Photo credits:

Water bottles: Diego3336 via photopin cc

Restaurant exterior: ShironekoEuro via photopin cc

Hi, I am Melissa! I’m a Registered, Licensed Dietitian and I have been the Nutrition Specialist for Great Harvest since December of 2010. I got my start in nutrition at Colorado State University where I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Food Science with a focus in Dietetics. I went on to graduate from the Dietetic Internship Program at the Baptist Health System in San Antonio and then work as a Medical Nutrition Specialist in Houston. My love of the outdoors and the opportunity to work at one of Outside Magazine’s Top 100 Best Places to Work brought me to Montana and Great Harvest. My favorite part of my job is being able to work with an amazing group of fun and intellectual individuals who are passionate about making healthy eating a delicious experience while giving back to communities across the country.