We’ve all been there, training is going well – hitting those speed sessions, nailing your hydration and nutrition, getting enough sleep – but then a work trip or a vacation begins to creep up on the calendar. I’m here to tell you that you will survive outside your bubble of control. You can maintain healthy eating while traveling. Road trip and plane rides don’t have to derail your progress.
Healthy Eating While Traveling
I get it, I do. Inside your bubble your meals are prepped or at least planned. You have your schedule and routine. You have your bottles, chews, and powders. Life is great. So, let’s talk strategy for venturing outside to new places and still maintaining our healthy eating.
If you’re going on a road trip, that’s amazing! You are lucky in that you can prep a lot of your food and bring it with you in a cooler or a dry goods bag. When I’m on the road I like to load my cooler with ready to eat fruits, sparkling water or Zevia sodas to drink, and protein sources. The protein sources can be ready to drink protein shakes, hard boiled eggs, nitrate-free deli meat, or even the protein snack packs that have meat, nuts, and dried fruit. Whatever your easy go to foods are, they can road trip with you!
Traveling By Plane
When traveling by plane, like I do quite often, the rules become a little more complex. For those of you who didn’t realize, you’re allowed to travel with your own food on planes – liquids or soft foods still must meet the under 4oz requirements. Yes, this can often include peanut butter and yogurt depending on your friendly TSA agent.
I have found that if you freeze a liquid and it’s frozen at the time you pass through security, it passes as a solid. So, think about things like smoothies or cold brew coffee for those bougie caffeine addicts out there. Some of the foods I’ve brought on planes have been my own chartuterie snack box, hard boiled eggs or an omelet, sandwiches, raw veggies, hummus, and even rotisserie chicken – pulled off the bone of course.
More fun with TSA can come from bringing your protein, pre-workout, or hydration powders. No one wants to lug the full bottles or canisters with them for a weekend trip. I haven’t had any issues traveling with snack-sized baggies of random powders labeled “protein”. But I will also say I have TSA Pre-Check, so I don’t know if that has anything to do with it.
But once you’re past TSA, you’re now at the mercy of the airport food selections for nutrition. How do you navigate all the choices with your luggage in tow? One of my favorites is Freshens which has protein smoothies (PB Protein smoothie for the win, y’all!) if you must grab and run – they even have plant-based protein options! They also have sweet or savory crepes and salads available if you’d rather spend energy chewing.
Eating Food From Stores and Restaurants
If you need your caffeine, I’m happy to tell you that Starbucks has upped their healthy food game. From egg white English muffin sandwiches to spinach egg bites, you can find quick ways to start your day with protein instead of just sugary dessert drinks. Fun tip, if you don’t have a lactose intolerance or a cow milk protein allergy, skim milk is your most protein dense milk option on the list. So don’t switch to a milk alternative if you’re looking for protein!
Maybe you have time to sit down and eat a restaurant-style meal in the airport. If you’re looking to save calories and eat somewhat clean, stay clear of foods that are fried or breaded. Grilled chicken or fish are always great sources of protein. Sides of steamed vegetables or a salad will get that rainbow of micronutrients you’ve been looking for. And for those that might have sensitive GI systems, treat the airport like an aid station and be mindful of what you consume. Don’t forget you’ll be on a tin can in the air soon where everyone knows your business.
There’s no right or wrong to eating while traveling, you just need to remember your goals and put systems in place to help you achieve those goals. If you happen to slip up and get a bougie pink drink from Starbucks, don’t worry there’s no nutrition police waiting in the shadows to slap it out of your hand. But maybe that’s a service I should start offering? Next time you are traveling, remember that healthy eating while traveling is possible so don’t worry and enjoy the trip.