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How to Eat Healthy When Traveling

Tips for finding healthy options in convenience stores, airports, fast food restaurants, and strange cities

By
Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS,
June 28, 2011
Episode #144

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Lola writes with a question about eating healthy on the road.  “I travel at least two days a week,” she writes, “which leads to countless fast-food and airport meals. Do you have any advice for travelers?”

How to Eat Healthy When Traveling

Eating healthy when you’re at home can be challenging enough. Sticking to your good habits when you're traveling can be even tougher.  But there's no need to arrive home from your trip with a junk food hangover.  Here are four tips to help you stick to your healthy eating habits when traveling.

Healthy Eating Tip #1:  Take Healthy Snacks with You

Whenever possible, arm yourself with healthy snacks for the car or plane so that you're not stuck with the limited offerings available at gas stations and airports. If you're traveling with a cooler, stock it with plain yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, string cheese, fruit, cut-up vegetables, and hummus. Dried fruit, nuts, sunflower seeds, or trail mix travel well without refrigeration—and you’ll usually find a good selection of that sort of thing at the airport newsstand if you don’t have time to shop before you leave.

Healthy Eating Tip #2: Hold Out for the Healthy Options

Healthier options such as salads, grilled sandwiches, veggie or black bean burgers, yogurt, and fresh fruit are also starting to show up at most of the fast food restaurants—and the quality is pretty consistent. Most fast food restaurants now have brochures readily available on the counter that detail the nutritional information of the various menu items. These materials make it much easier to zero in on the better choices. 

When vetting the calorie counts on fast food items, be sure to pay attention to extras like cheese, sour cream, or guacamole.

Or, download a copy of the Stop & Go Guide to Fast Food, which lists menu items for 70 different fast food joints, color coded red, yellow, or green to help you quickly identify the lesser of two (or more) evils. Nutritional details are also included.  You can buy a print version of the booklet for seven dollars, or download a pdf for free.  When vetting the calorie counts on fast food items, be sure to pay attention to extras like cheese, sour cream, or guacamole.

Believe it or not, it’s also gotten a little easier to find healthy options at rest stops and gas station convenience stores. Of course, you’ll still have to walk through the acres of Funyuns and Krispy Kreme donuts. But check the coolers at the back of the store and you’re also likely to find things like cottage cheese, hard-boiled eggs, raw carrots and hummus, and tomato juice.

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