Making Healthy Choices While Traveling
By Noor H. Salem, contributing columnist
With spring break around the corner, many people are planning exciting vacations. Whether it’s a road trip with the siblings or a family trip afar, you can still enjoy your time while keeping your health in check. Below are a few tips I share with my clients to stay on track, even while traveling.
- Plan Ahead
Planning ahead is not as complicated as it sounds. Yes, you may perceive that turning the car into a drive-thru is much easier than planning a healthy meal, but the effect on your physical and mental health would differ drastically. Simply plan out the family snacks and meals and look for options along the roadway. If you are visiting family in another state or country, get their assistance in familiarizing yourself with the area. They may direct you to a supermarket, farmer’s market, or even a restaurant with healthy options. Planning ahead would also entail simple preparations, like packing snacks to keep you going.
- Pack suitable snacks
Unfortunately, the majority of packaged snacks come along with many ingredients that result in negative health consequences. I recommend you purchase organic dried fruit, raw nuts, nut butters, organic oatmeal, and other organic and non-GMO verified snacks. If you’re taking a road trip, purchase some celery, carrots, broccoli, and your other favorite vegetables. Place them in a cooler, and snack on them when hunger kicks in. Celery and carrots go great with nut butters, boosting the protein and healthy fats of your snack. If you’re traveling, stick with options like nuts, clean ingredient snack bars, and oatmeal. Once you reach your destination, find a nearby supermarket that is suitable to grab fruits and vegetables and other healthy alternatives of your choice.
- Do some research
I know what you’re thinking: “it’s a vacation, I don’t have time for homework!” The fact of the matter is; you’ll thank yourself while traveling for taking a few minutes to do this. Simply research healthy restaurant choices, grocery stores like Whole Foods, and even a park (if weather appropriate) nearby your destination. Check (and confirm) if your hotel has a fitness center, or look for a botanical garden, park, or trail. If appropriate to your vacation, look for adventurous outdoor activities that involve physical movement. Atop that, look for close by restaurants that may suite your eating habits. The majority of restaurants have wonderful websites with detailed menus. Research your travel destination and see what restaurants are in your area. Try avoiding fast food by all means. Worst case scenario, if that’s your only option; opt for a salad without their dressing, croutons, or cheese. I know, you might as well walk into a nearby grocery store and purchase some lettuce. It might sound like a joke, but why not? Add in some tomatoes, cucumbers, avocados, and red onions, and you’ve just made yourself a salad. If you have a kitchen in your hotel, why not cook up a quick meal? Quinoa with vegetables is fairly easy and quick to make. It’s high in protein and fiber, and will grant you satiety, along with a boost of nutrients. If you prefer not to cook, again, search for a restaurant with better options.
Your family went to that upmarket restaurant, ordered some scrumptious food items, and you broke your food rules. Don’t ponder over it! Many times my clients claim one slip up or “cheat meal” causes them to go off track completely. Don’t let that be the case. Enjoy the meal, don’t regret it (as it truly does not help in any way), and move on to making a better choice next meal. Especially while on vacation, many of my clients frankly tell me that they enjoy meals with family and friends, and prefer to eat with the group. That is completely fine, and once you return home try to get back on track with your wonderful and healthy habits.
Try these tips, whether during spring break or another vacation penciled in your calendar soon. Observe the difference it makes to plan ahead and be prepared. Most importantly, enjoy the quality time with your family and friends, as that’s the most significant part of all.
Editor’s note: Noor H. Salem is an author, speaker, and Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, from Michigan. Noor works with clients in better understanding their bodies and healing with natural foods through her wellness practice, Holistic Noortrition. She presents various workshops, school lectures, group coaching classes, and community lectures on the topic of holistic health. Noor recently published her book, Sunnah Superfoods, a culmination of life-changing recipes and remedies, with a foreword by Dr. Waleed Basyouni. Her book consists of prophetic hadith, modern research, and delicious recipes, and is in the process of being translated into other languages.