Healthy Eating Holiday Travel Survival Guide

Dec 2 2015
Question@2x Dear Hungry Girl,

My family lives across the country, so I spend a lot of time on planes and in airports during the holiday season. Do you have any tips on eating healthy while traveling?

Foodie Flyer
Answer@2x Hi Foodie,

You've come to the right place! I travel all the time, so I have smart-eating survival strategies down to a science! Here are my top tips 'n tricks...

1. First and foremost, pack emergency snacks. You'll need them for standard snacking, of course, but also for unforeseen circumstances that could lengthen your travel time: flight delays, a long time taxiing on the runway, traffic on the way to your destination, etc. And during the flight, you probably don't want to get stuck eating the calorie-heavy options that airlines offer. (Don't be fooled by those cheese-and-cracker snack boxes -- they often have 800+ calories each!) Pack your carry-on with several shelf-stable snacks that are high in protein and/or fiber, don't take up too much space, and won't get crushed in transit: apples, jerky, snack bars, etc. Avoid anything messy or smelly. (Sorry, pomegranates and tuna.) Click here for more emergency snacks. Forgot to pack 'em? No worries. You can usually find decent options in the terminal, like those picks I mentioned. Just read labels and watch out for multi-serving snacks that look like single servings.

2. Plan ahead in terms of meals. You might be tempted to skip a meal in your rush to get to the airport, but try to leave time for a filling breakfast, lunch, or dinner at home before you go. That's where you'll have the most control, and you're about to be out of that comfort zone for a while. If you know you're going to need a meal at some point during your travels, plan on grabbing it at the airport, not in flight. There are loads more healthy options at the airport. If you don't have time to eat the meal before boarding, you can always bring it on the plane with you. Need some motivation for hunting down low-calorie meals? You're probably going to enjoy a few indulgent dishes when you get to your destination -- don't blow your decadent-food budget on airport food!

3. Put your fast-food skills and chain-restaurant know-how to the test. Here's a one-sentence refresher on surviving a fast-food meal: Always look at nutritional stats before you order, choose grilled not crispy, and hold the mayo. You can almost always find a basic salad with grilled chicken, whether it's at a fast-food counter or on a chain-restaurant menu. Click here for a huge collection of survival guides.

4. When the drink cart comes around, water is your best bet. (If you need sparkles, get club soda.) Even better, grab a bottle or two of H2O at the airport. Not only will it help you avoid the sugary calories in soda and juice, but it's also the best for hydration. (Plus, you'll be covered if turbulence prevents the drink cart from coming through the cabin.) And staying hydrated can keep you from thinking you're hungry. Besides water, tomato juice is a personal favorite -- it's really satisfying!

5. When you get off that plane and on to your destination, hit the grocery store sooner rather than later. Stock up on smart snacks and even some meal staples, so you're not at the mercy of the hotel mini bar or your host's half-empty fridge. And don't forget to plan and pack for the trip back!

Overall, do the best you can, and don't beat yourself up if you make a few bad choices. Just get right back on track whenever you can. Happy travels!

Chew on this:

It's day two of December, National Fruitcake Month. Skip the standard stuff and whip up our Upside-Down Pineapple-Applesauce Cake. Mmmmm...

Chances are, you've got loads of friends and family members who are traveling this season. Help 'em out by clicking "Send to a Friend!"

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