When I joined my nutrition school to become a health coach, I finally felt like I fit in. I was surrounded by like-minded people who prioritized healthy eating the way I always had. The first time I met a fellow student, we had smoothies at a juice bar in Manhattan and told each other about our lives. My new friend told me everything about her high stress traveling job and how her co-workers made fun of her because she travelled with her blender (in case she couldn’t find a juice bar or fresh produce wherever she was). Wow. This was a little too much even for me!
I remember going home that night and laughing to myself a little at the fact that I had met someone who was more health conscious than I. This had never happened before! I also laughed a at the thought of traveling with a blender (what a pain in the neck!), and thought how, for me, this was completely unnecessary as there are always ways of eating healthy, no matter where you are.
Wanna know what some of those ways are? If you travel a lot for work or pleasure, or have a big trip coming up and are worried about going overboard with food, don’t worry. First of all, know that it is normal. We all become a little chaotic with food and with everything else when we are taken out of our usual environment. So don’t feel bad, you’re not alone on this. Secondly, just follow the few tips I will give you ahead and you will be alright (no need to pack a blender in your bag, I promise!).
- Use the internet! Thank Goddess we live in a world where all the information we want or need is a few clicks away. These days, we have no excuse to be completely uninformed about the places we travel to, as we can find all kinds of tips and advice for our trips all over the web. If you are really committed to eating healthy, make sure you research your destination and find a few healthy restaurants, cafes, or juice bars close to where you will be staying ahead of time. If you can’t find this, at the very least look for your closest farmers market or supermarket to know where you can find fresh produce and other essential goodies. And while you’re at it, learn about the local gastronomy and find a few healthy dishes that you may like to try.
- Crowd out the bad stuff. Crowding out is one of the first concepts I learned when studying to become a holistic health coach. What it means is that by eating a healthy option first, you leave less space in your stomach (and in your cravings) for unhealthy ones. So with that in mind, next time you travel, no matter what your plan for the day is, make sure you get some healthy stuff in even before you hit the streets. One way of doing this is to buy local, seasonal fruits and eat them first thing in the morning. That way, even if you can’t find any healthy breakfast or brunch options later in the day, you will already be semi full and satisfied, and will be less likely to eat an excessive amount of anything else. Another way to crowd out is by always carrying healthy snacks with you, whether you bring them from home with you, or you get them at your destination. Which takes me to the next point.
- Go food shopping ASAP! Make sure you have fresh produce like local and seasonal fruits, and nuts, seeds, or other healthy snacks that you can carry with you at all times. This way you won’t be caught off guard in the middle of the day, starving and without any healthy options around. Always carry those healthy snacks with you. Better that you don’t end up needing them and bring them back home with you, than to eat greasy and sugary junk food every day because you didn’t plan ahead.
- Create a ritual. Traveling has a way of getting my whole life out of balance. I’m in a different place, sleeping in a different bed, eating different food, and following a different routine. This can very quickly translate into making poor food choices, because I feel so ungrounded and disorderly, and food becomes just one more manifestation of this inner feeling. To avoid this, I like to keep one or two rituals that never change, no matter where I am. Meditating is one of them. Doing it wherever I am has a very soothing effect on me that makes everything else around me more balanced too, including the food choices I make. Even better if your ritual is food-related. For example, have a large glass of water with one squeezed lemon as soon as you wake up. Then take a shower (or meditate, or stretch a little, or do whatever else you like to do in the mornings), and then have a large glass of juice or a piece of fresh fruit. See how this mixes the ritual with the concept of crowding out that I mentioned above?
- Live a little. If you’re going to be paranoid trying to avoid all the local unhealthy food options at all cost, you may end up eating worse because all that worrying will make you an anxious and emotional eater. Better to relax and give yourself permission to enjoy your trip (and the food in it!), with some set boundaries. You can, for example, decide to indulge for one meal a day, and be healthier the rest of the day. Traveling doesn’t have to mean total debauchery, but it doesn’t have to mean total restriction either. The key is in the balance.