Traveling far away to visit relatives for the holidays?
Or simply headed to the mall to check more off your shopping list?
The holidays are a busy time for many people, but that doesn’t mean your healthy eating regimen has to suffer.
“Eating on the road can take its toll on your well-being, so it’s a great idea to arm yourself before you go,” Ellie Krieger, RD, nutritionist, cookbook author, and host of “Ellie’s Real Good Food,” told Healthline.
What to pack, what to skip
Krieger brings seasonal fresh fruit when she hits the road.
This time of year, she likes clementine oranges, apples, and grapes.
Packs of plain instant oatmeal are another go-to meal or snack for her because it’s easy to access hot water just about anywhere.
Individually portioned bags of nuts and dried fruit are also a lifesaver because they are packed with protein and good fat.
“The smaller bags are easier to store, keep portions smart-sized, and are more food-safe for sharing than having lots of hands digging into one bag,” she noted.
Traveling by car?
Stock up a small cooler with bottles of frozen water and yogurt. Once the water thaws, you can use it to drink.
The yogurt will keep your gut functioning well, especially if you tend to overindulge during the holidays, Krieger advised.
To avoid calorie bombs in vending machines, take along some dark chocolate to satisfy your sweet tooth on the go.
It will help you avoid reaching for a candy bar when you want something sweet, Krieger added.
Snacks and water
Try to choose a snack or meal that has protein and fiber and is nutrient-rich yet satisfying, recommends Lyssie Lakatos and Tammy Lakatos Shames, both registered diet nutritionists.
They like hard-boiled eggs, apples, or yogurt as go-to options while traveling.
“This way, it keeps blood sugar levels stable, keeps hunger at bay, so you don’t binge on something else afterward, and tastes great so your taste buds don’t start wandering,” they explained.
Also, try to select places to eat that you know have healthy options. Starbucks has unsweetened tea along with low-calorie breakfast sandwiches and oatmeal, for instance.
Staying hydrated can also help you feel your best while traveling by curbing holiday bloat. Sip on water throughout the day, and add fruit slices to flavor it up.
“Water cools you down, helps digestion run smoothly, helps your organs function and eases hunger pangs,” added Colette Heimowitz, an Atkins Nutritionals nutritionist. “Be sure to increase your water intake, especially if you’re traveling by plane, which often causes dehydration.”
When to indulge
It’s important to keep splurges in check — especially on the go.
Isabel Maples, a registered dietitian nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, says it’s all about moderation.
“Your goal in choosing food while you travel is to moderate the calories while choosing foods that pack in more nutrition,” she told Healthline.
Lean meats, nuts and seeds, vegetables, lower-fat dairy, whole grains, and seafood are all good choices.
“Save the indulgence for the actual holidays,” Maples said. “A month-long splurge can lead to weight gain… and extra pounds that can be hard to shed later.”
A few more tips from Maples:
- At the airport, stay hydrated by drinking 8 oz. of fluid for every hour you fly — booze doesn’t count.
- Don’t load up on too much caffeine to keep your energy up. Eating regularly, staying hydrated, and sleeping can better energize you.
- Smaller, more frequent meals and snacks may work better while traveling to keep your alertness and energy up, so you don’t feel sluggish.
- Make fast-food stops healthy by opting for things like milk, apples, yogurt, fruit, and salads.