When I travel, I realized it’s not always easy to eat a healthy diet because often times, we’re staying in a hotel without a kitchen or an airbnb with limited kitchen use, so we end up eating out often! It can be easy to forget about our healthy eating goals while abroad because simply, there’s just so much explore, including cultural foods that we may not get to experience in our hometown. But as a dietitian and someone who cares about my health, it’s important that I find practical and simple strategies to still get in healthy foods. Through my travel experiences, I have learned a few lessons on how to balance out my diet while abroad AND still enjoy the amazing foods offered in the region I’m in.
Lesson 1: If you’re traveling with someone, share plates and eat in family-style at restaurants. If you’re traveling alone, consider asking for half portion plates and pack the other half to go.
By sharing plates, you can order several different dishes without overeating portions. This means you can include new foods that you want to try, foods that you’re accustomed to and definitely some healthy dishes/sides such as a salad, roasted vegetables, whole-grain salads.
Lesson 2: If you have access to a kitchen, even if it’s limited to only a stove and a pot, utilize it for homemade meals. If you don’t have a kitchen while traveling, go explore local farmer’s markets or grocery stores for some ready-to-eat nutritious foods.
While traveling, it’s fun to mix and match between eating out and making homemade meals. It’s also fun to try to make new recipes that may be pertinent to your travels. However, making homemade meals can be a challenge if you don’t have access to a kitchen. If that is the case, you can still pick up some whole foods at a local farmer’s market or grocery stores to help balance out from eating out too often.
Lesson 3: Research restaurants ahead of time.
When possible, look through a restaurant’s menu beforehand so you can plan out what you will have. You’re more likely to order less healthy choices impulsively if you do not plan ahead of time.
Lesson 4: Stay hydrated.
Don’t forget to drink water while traveling. Our brains can misinterpret thirst for hunger, so if you’re not staying hydrated, you’re more likely to have an increased appetite or cravings, which can lead to ordering impulsively and overindulging.
Lesson 5: It’s okay if you weren’t entirely consistent during your trip, just re-focus and get back on track.
It’s important to acknowledge that while traveling, you may not be eating the way you normally do. And that itself is normal! Take some time to figure out where to cut yourself some slack and where to practice discipline. This will require some planning. When you get back from traveling, just be diligent about getting back to eating healthfully.