Enjoying Whole Foods on a Trip Does Not Have to be Difficult
While some people find travel to be the high point of the year, others loathe it as a necessary evil. Regardless of where you fall on this spectrum (I’m about in the middle), you may dread the hunt for healthy food when traveling. You may be tempted to just grab
whatever is convenient, even if you are usually on a whole foods diet.
At home, you have all the advantages. You’ll probably get hungry at predictable times, and can stock your pantry and refrigerator in advance. You know where to shop to get the vegetables, fruits, beans, potatoes, and whole grains that are the foundation for satisfying whole foods throughout the day. You can cook in familiar surroundings with all the pots, pans, and kitchen knick knacks you want. Your favorite restaurants with the food choices you like are nearby.
You may think it’s not a problem to just eat whatever is handy when away from home. The thinking is that the trip is only temporary, so you will restart healthy eating when it’s convenient. The problems with this reasoning are serious. You will break the good habits you worked so hard on, and getting back to them may be a struggle.
Your tastes will change when you get onto animal and manufactured foods again, chronic illness may flare, your medication needs may change when you cannot get to your doctor, and soon you are back where you started before your whole foods diet.
Suddenly travel is way more expensive than you planned – costing you health and motivation, even stubborn weight gain. Surprisingly, you will enjoy your trip more if you feel good about your food choices.
Planning and commitment are the secrets to healthy eating on the road. You can stick to whole foods, with a sprinkling of manufactured foods and no animal foods. Sure, meals may not be what you are used to and love at home, but the discovery of travel makes some eating compromise okay. Here are 10 tips for travel success.
- Eat abundantly from these whole foods groups: vegetables, fruits, beans, potatoes, and whole grains. Your hunger will be satisfied, and you’ll get the nutrition and fiber you need. Small amounts of manufactured foods (such as white rice or white bread) are okay if whole grains are not available.
- Don’t let yourself get famished. Eat when moderately hungry. At home, you should stop eating when you are full. When traveling, you may want to top off your stomach if you think that healthy choices won’t be available again for a while.
- Bring foods with you. Portable snacks include fruit, sandwiches, baked potatoes, whole grain crackers and cereals, instant oatmeal and other dehydrated food (often in a cup – you just add hot water for a quick snack), nuts, and baby carrots.
- Eat simple foods you buy in a farmers market or grocery store. Make a sandwich from whole grain bread and hummus, with prewashed lettuce leaves from a bag.
- Also bring lightweight, inexpensive, but reusable plates, bowls, and utensils with you. You will cut down on the waste you generate, and it will be a lot more convenient to make a simple meal or snack from foods you buy in the market or grocery.
- Scope out restaurants before you leave home. Find choices that are whole-foods friendly online or in guidebooks. Ask your friends who have been at your destination before.
- At restaurants, ask for what you want. If that is not on the menu, discuss choices with your server. You are not inconveniencing anyone. No need to feel guilty. After all, you are the customer giving the chef the chance to show his or her creativity. If you don’t speak the local language, bring a phrase book and paper and pen so you can copy out the words you need and show to your server.
- If you find a restaurant you really like, keep going back to it. No reason not to feel right at home and take advantage of tasty choices.
- Talk with locals and ask what stores and restaurants have whole foods. You want to meet people when traveling, anyway. Food questions are a great way to strike up a conversation.
- Don’t feel pressured and don’t give in to pressure. This is the most important tip. You don’t need to sample the national dish or local specialty, if that is an animal food. If the only thing to like about where you are is a food that threatens your health and speeds climate change, you’re better off staying home. Travel for reasons other than food, and you will not feel deprived by just saying no. In fact, you will feel liberated. You are in control of your choices and firmly grounded in not getting thrown off course.
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Blog by Janice Stanger, Ph.D. Janice authored The Perfect Formula Diet, a nutrition book built on sustainable food choices. Enjoy six kinds of whole foods for permanent, hunger-free weight loss and health.