Often times, people let their diet go while traveling. Knowing how to stay healthy on the road can be a lifesaver. It will prevent getting sick, inflammation, and poor mood. However, it can be tricky for convenience reasons, reduced accessibility to good choices, or lack of knowledge. Here are seven ways to make better decisions and how you can stay healthy when traveling!
Sometimes the best nutrition is none at all. Sounds a little silly due to the constant bombardment that we should be eating every 15 minutes, little snacks, or else we will wither away and die. This is just not the truth. Do you think that humans throughout history had access to food 24/7? No, they often went without. Our bodies are resilient and we aren’t going to perish if we don’t eat on a regimen that the next top blog tells you to. Some people actually choose to eat (or not) this way often, and call it “intermittent fasting.”
So next time you are are traveling and wondering how to stay health, just don’t eat and employ a little bit of intermittent fasting. For those of you that don’t know much about the topic, it is taking time to well, fast. Regular intermittent fasting has been shown to increase lifespan, burn more fat over the long term and decrease lipid levels.
Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean full on calorie restriction. You still can (and should) eat the same amount as you normally would- just pile those calories on a meal before or after you’re planning on fasting. This means before or after you’re traveling. I’m certainly not advocating that you should starve yourself, so don’t ‘go there.
I do this all of the time when I’m traveling, especially on longer flights. I’ve survived. Reserve this option for when you didn’t bring anything yourself and don’t have access to anything decent, e.g. international flights.
DON’T EAT… CARBS
When you eat a large amount of carbohydrates, whether “healthy whole grains” or not, slowly digesting or not, you will have a significant rise in your insulin levels, followed by a significant fall. After the eventual fall, your body will want a rise again, leaving you hungry 90-120 minutes after you’ve eaten.
Ever wonder why most people love to snack every hour or two? What about 7-8 small meals per day? This recommendation is based on continually needing to eat from eating carbohydrates the meal before. Cut them out and replace them with fat to stay fuller longer. The increases in fat and protein from cutting the carbs will keep you fuller longer.
In my opinion, you should be eating as many carbs as you earn. What that means is that if your activity level is higher, you should be eating more, if it is lower, you should be eating less. Likely, if you are traveling, you are moving less. Simple math.
EAT MORE FAT
Fat is far more satiating than protein or carbohydrates. Yes, fat has more calories. Calories don’t matter though, remember? If you eat enough fat, and limit enough protein and carbs, you can enter ketosis, which will basically mean you are almost exclusively using fat for fuel. This means that when you run out of fat you eat, your body will start using your body fat for fuel. And you’re not hungry. This is amazing, right?
Bring along an avocado, some coconut oil/coconut butter, or nuts if you need to snack. Just make sure your coconut oil is under the monkey (TSA) approved three ounce rule if you’re going to bring some on a flight. Squeeze packs of nut butters or tiny jars are a good way to go here. A homemade trail mix of toasted coconut flakes, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and goji berries is a personal favorite.
DRINK MORE WATER (AND COFFEE)
Often when people think they are hungry, they are actually thirsty. If you find yourself hungry but there are few healthy options around you, try slamming a bottle of water and waiting 10-15 minutes. It could be that you were just thirsty and didn’t even know it. Options with glass bottles from spring sources, whether sparkling or still, will be your best bet to get some minerals while reducing chemical leaching from the plastic. The sparkling option (San Pellegrino) will have even more of a satiating effect due to the carbonation of the water.
You can also bring your own french press grind off coffee and steal some hot water from a coffee joint and sip on the coffee. Caffeine can significantly decrease hormones that lead to hunger.
DON’T LET HEALTH BARS FOOL YOU
Gluten free! Dairy free! 30 grams of protein! All-natural! 100% organic! Snake venom also fits all of those health claims closely, but you don’t consider that healthy, do you? These bars can exist wrapped up on the shelves for years for a reason. Generally speaking, don’t waste your time. They are loaded with weird sugary syrups and odd chemicals.
In a pinch, choose a bar with an ingredient list of under three items, and make sure that you can pronounce the ingredients. Larabars, Bearded Brothers and Clif’s Kit’s Organic are a few that fit the bill. These are all still higher carb though, so depending on your metabolism, will make you hungry again.
FIND LOCAL FARMERS’ MARKET
Another creative way how to stay healthy while traveling is by looking up where the locals purchase. Not only will you find cheap and fresh produce here, it can be a fun experiment as well. Different regions of the country (or world) have vastly different seasonal and regional produce that you may have never tried before. With a little exploring, you may very well find a new or interesting fruit/vegetable/meat you’ve never had. Google is your best bet for finding local farmers’ markets.
BUY FOODS THAT DO NOT REQUIRE REFRIGERATION
Many times people eat or buy convenience foods when they are staying in hotels because they don’t have a full kitchen to prepare or store proper foods. This often leads to poor choices and foods with decreased nutrient density. Instead, opt for vegetables, jerky, avocados, coconut oil/butter, grass-fed butter, nuts, and seeds.
Put these tips to practice and find yourself being much paleo when traveling! Have any other tips or ways you like to stay healthy while on the road? Share with us in the comments below!