Healthy Eating On The Go
A healthy diet takes focus and intention but can be maintained even when on the road. In this article we share tips for staying on track when travel plans arise including: starting the day right, choosing healthy meals while on-the-road, and establishing healthy eating habits.
Start with the Most Important Meal of the Day: Breakfast
Whatever goals you or your clients have; weight loss, fat loss, or lean mass gains, breakfast sets the metabolic rate for the day and fuels the body for whatever is to come. It should be balanced and nutrient-dense.
As part of a healthy diet, breakfast should include a lean protein, a whole fruit or whole grain carbohydrate option, and very little sugar.
Healthy Breakfast Options That Are Quick and Convenient
Bagels are a quick, carb-heavy pick, but can be made into a balanced meal:
- Add a lean protein source—egg whites, grilled chicken, or tofu.
- Skip the cream cheese.
- Add vegetables.
Smoothies are an easy first step when creating healthy eating habits. They are loaded with vitamins and nutrients and are low-calorie. Here are some healthy options for your breakfast smoothie:
- Leafy greens make a great base and add lots of nutrition—including iron and protein.
- Whole vegetables like carrots, celery, and zucchini add vitamins, fiber, and flavor.
- Fresh, whole fruits add more nutrients and sweeten the mix—think apples, pears, bananas, strawberries, pineapple, and melon.
- Don’t be afraid to add healthy fats. Fats are necessary for good health, as discussed in our article, Explaining Fats’ Function to Clients, and make smoothies nice and creamy. Simply add ½ an avocado or a tablespoon of nut butter.
- Oats add fiber as do chia seeds and flaxseed, which also include healthy fats.
- Add protein powder to boost calories and protein intake.
When hitting the drive-thru is the only option, there are always healthier options:
- Instead of a biscuit sandwich, choose an English muffin or flatbread.
- Order a yogurt parfait. Ask for the granola on the side.
- Choose whole grains like oatmeal or whole wheat bread.
- Skip the cheese (too much saturated fat) and ask for sauce on the side.
- A breakfast burrito with black beans, scrambled eggs, and salsa is another tasty option.
Fast and Healthy Food Choices On-the-Road
When travel is in the plans, the best option to support healthy eating habits is always to pack a cooler or travel bag with healthy snacks, lean proteins, homemade trail mix, almonds or walnuts, or whole fruits and vegetables. But if that doesn’t happen, don’t despair. There are decent food choices available while traveling.
Keep Your Eyes Peeled at Pit Stops
Road trips often include quick stops at gas stations to refuel—the car and the people traveling. There are some things to watch for while strolling the aisles for healthy snacks.
First, look for the whole foods—fruits and vegetables in the deli section of some stores. If whole foods aren’t available, be sure to look at the nutrition label of packaged food and check the serving size. Many packages include more than one serving size so check the number of calories per serving.
Finally, avoid anything that has added sugar, including store-bought trail mix.
Restaurants have plenty of healthy meals to choose from. Always look at the calories per serving and stick to meals that support goals—low-calorie meals for weight loss and high-calorie meals for gains. Here are some other suggestions:
- Order water instead of soda or sugar-sweetened beverages.
- Ask for a to-go box and before taking a bite, put half the plate away for later.
- Choose baked, broiled, or grilled protein instead of fried.
- Choose seasonal sides instead of French fries.
Fast Food Drive-Thru
It happens to the best of us…when life happens, sometimes the drive-thru is the only option. Though it may be tempting to say, “this only happens once in a while, I’ll just get whatever I want”, remember those goals and make better choices.
- Order sandwiches without cheese or sauce. Condiments like ketchup and mustard don’t add many calories and are better options than “secret” sauces or mayo.
- Most fast food restaurants have salads on the menu. Order dressing on the side. Add lean protein but ask for it to be grilled, not fried. Fried foods are loaded with saturated and trans fats. Having too much of either of these fats in the diet is a recipe for heart disease.
- Choose a fruit cup or apple slices instead of French fries or chips.
- Black beans are a healthy side option—choose brown rice instead of white.
- Skip dessert—including milkshakes.
Develop Healthy Eating Habits
A healthy diet becomes second nature when it is supported by healthy habits. Food choices become easier when they contribute to well-being, energy, recovery, and better health.
As previously mentioned, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. To break the night-long fast, choose healthy foods. The psychology of eating says that starting with a healthy meal inspires healthy eating throughout the day. Who wants to start off with a win then sabotage that success later? Very few people will make that choice.
Sit, don’t stand for meals, chew food slowly, focus on the colors, textures, smells, and flavors of the food. Too often, we inhale meals and feel bloated afterwards. Mindful eating, as discussed in our article, How Does Mindfulness Achieve Weight Loss?, reduces the possibility of making poor food choices or eating too many calories.
Eat Every 2 Hours
A regular feeding schedule provides multiple opportunities to eat balanced, nutritious meals with fewer calories. This means that more nutrition is added to the diet, the body is properly fueled and energized, and cravings go away. Keep added sugar low by choosing whole grains, fresh fruits, almonds. Avoid deli meats.
Make Half the Plate Fruits and Vegetables
“Eat a rainbow.” Different colored foods have different vitamin and mineral profiles, so have fun and make half the plate as colorful as possible. Keep nutrients intact by eating raw or very lightly cooked fruits and vegetables.
What do the colors mean?
- Red and Orange: Contains vitamin C and carotenoids
- Blue and Purple: Packs lots of flavonoids and antioxidants
- Cream or White: Contains glucosinolates, polyphenols, B-vitamins, potassium, and iron
- Green and Dark Green: Chlorophyll and iron
Don’t Keep Unhealthy Food Around
It’s a simple rule, don’t stock unhealthy food in the house. Avoid temptation, emotional eating, and over-indulging by avoiding junk food altogether. This habit also helps avoid trans fats which are found in most processed foods.
Sticking to your healthy eating goals can take a bit more planning and careful consideration, but it is worth the extra effort for your long-term health.
If you’re ready to take your nutrition knowledge to the next level, check the ISSA’s Fitness Nutrition course online.
Click HERE to download this handout and share with your clients!