Meal Planning

5 Simple Tips to Eating Healthy on the Road

Do you ever find yourself feeling sluggish and tired when you travel? While I’m sure that sitting in the car or plane for hours on end doesn’t help, much of it could be attributed to eating more sugar, less produce and other nutrient-dense foods, and eating more calories in general. Of course, options are more limited on the road, and at times it’s easy to feel like eating healthy on the road is near impossible. I assure you, it’s not. But, it does take some knowledge, planning, and diligence.

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eating healthy on the road

5 Tips to Eating Healthy on the Road

1. Pack along a cooler and snacks.

Eating healthy on the road is much easier if you bring a cooler packed with food for your trip. If you pack a cooler with a few staple items, you can eat healthier, save time, and save money!

With the exception of international travel, we almost always pack a cooler, even if it just has a few things in it. For our most recent trips, I mostly packed along food for my 10-month-old (sweet potatoes, grapes, quinoa, and black beans,) but threw in a few things for us as well. 

In years past my husband and I would go on week-long vacations, eating the majority of our meals from a cooler. We found that if we ate some of our meals from a cooler, we enjoyed the dinners we ate out more. We could savor the richer food choices, knowing that we would wake up in the morning and eat our usual overnight oats, hard boiled eggs, and fruit.

Be sure to grab the list of incredibly easy protein-packed snacks at the bottom of this post for more great ideas!

2. Keep your car stashed with non-perishables.

One of the best ways to keep yourself on track on the road is to keep your car stashed with non-perishables in a food car kit. I talk more about it in this post about avoiding fast food on the road that I wrote when my husband and I lived in Montana. The car kit helped us avoid fast food on the road as we traveled across the vast state every weekend.

The car food kit isn’t just for long distance travel. It also comes in handy for day trips around your own town! I don’t know about you, but I’ve definitely found myself out running errands past lunch time more than a few times.

Of course, if the travel is planned you can also pack along some favorite healthy snacks!

3. Stop at a grocery store for a meal instead of a restaurant.

For a while, my husband and I got pretty good at eating healthy on the road, and one of our main strategies is to stop at a grocery store for a meal instead of a restaurant.

You want to consider food that you can either eat in the grocery store if they have a cafe available, or food that does not require dishes/prep.

Grocery Store Meal and Snack Ideas:

  • Whole Foods, Fresh Thyme, or Earth Fare buffet or salad bar
  • Conventional grocery store salad bar or prepared salad
  • Greek yogurt or cottage cheese
  • Fruit (Keep water in your car to rinse as needed.)
  • Small vegetable trays, veggies that don’t need cutting (baby carrots and sugar snap peas), or precut veggies. Buy hummus or plain yogurt for dipping.
  • Tuna packets
  • Hard boiled eggs from the deli
  • Cheese sticks
  • Nitrate-free deli meat, cheese, and crackers/pita/bread

4. Order lighter options and try to model your usual eating habits.

If you’re spending several days or longer traveling, a good way to ensure that you feel healthy and energetic throughout your trip is to model your usual eating habits (assuming they are generally healthy).

For example, when you dine out, choose lighter options such as salads (just be careful not to load on the dressing or croutons,) grilled meat and vegetables. 

It’s also easy to eat less produce when traveling. It’s just not as readily available. Make sure to work it into your meals when you have the chance, even if that means choosing a salad or steamed broccoli for your side at dinner instead of macaroni and cheese.

5. Stick with water.

It could be easy while traveling to get a sugar loaded latte for breakfast, soda for lunch, and sweet tea for dinner. However, the extra calories and sugar could contribute to that dreaded vacation weight gain, or worse, multiple sugar crashes throughout the day! Remember that even just 1 can of soda has 39 grams of sugar or 7 teaspoons!

Instead, try to stick with water, keep your coffee clean, and stay hydrated to feel your best.

eating healthy on the road
While we were passing through a town with a Whole Foods we made it a point to stop for a salad and Baby R enjoyed sweet potatoes I roasted at home from the cooler. We also split grapes (precut for baby) from the cooler.

Mindset is Key to Eating Healthy on the Road

Changing your mindset is key to eating healthy on the road. Examine if this is an area you find yourself making excuses and letting the pounds add on. How many times have you heard yourself say, “We’re just so busy and gone all of the time” as an excuse to your poor eating habits? I’m a firm believer that we have to fit healthy eating habits into our lives because they don’t happen on their own. The time will never be perfect, so you have to choose to make the change now in the chaos and find an outside-of-the-box way to make it happen!

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