The Go to Healthy Foods Guide by SLFitness.
Travelling is a blast and work can be a bore but when we are attempting to stay fit and healthy finding healthy alternatives can be quite difficult. With my recent weekend trips, I quickly got past the joys of buying all my meals (and coffees) out each day. As we start to consider the duration of which we are away from home for however we consider the consequences that it will have on not only the waistline, but the bank account also.
This guide is made to help those of you choose healthier, in some cases lower calorie alternatives to that Greggs Steak bake or Subway 6 inch meatball marinara.
Through much trial and error, I’ve figured out what needs to be done before leaving, how to prepare, and what to do during the trip to make eating healthy simple and easy. I know exactly what can and can’t make it through airport security, what tools are helpful to pack, and all the right places to go. Because your “travel” may look different depending on the destination, you might choose to adapt these strategies for eating healthy while traveling based on whether you’ll be flying, road tripping or using public transport.
Pre-trip: The “5 P Rule”
Preparation prevents piss poor performance. A little planning can go a long way when it come to eating healthy while traveling.
Before you leave, have the decision made about what foods are a big “no-no” for you, perhaps you cannot tolerate white bread. Or you are gluten intolerant. You’ll also be able to plan ahead better about what kind of foods to bring with you and how much you’ll need.
Search for hotels that offer a mini-fridge in the room. Not only will you be able to house health-promoting foods in your room for easy access, but you’ll also save big money by bringing your own breakfast, lunch and/or snack foods which can add up quickly on vacations or working away.
If you’re looking at a few different hotels, search each one in google maps prior to booking to see how close they are to surrounding Tesco express or Sainsbury’s Local stores. The closer they are, the easier it is to make a stop or two throughout your trip. You can grab simple things like bottled water, or even perishable items like fruit or veggies and dip.
Lastly, do some research on what the hotel breakfast has to offer (especially if it’s free!) Stocking up on hard-boiled eggs or fruit from the breakfast buffet can serve as breakfast or snacks during your trip. Call the hotel ahead of time, or check reviews on Trip Advisor for the hotel (specifically search “breakfast”.)
You can easily take a variety of perishable and nonperishable items with you depending on the length of your trip, and how much room you have to pack food. This can easily go with you in the car, and you can take plenty of food with you in your suitcase, or in your carry on, through security.
ALDI UK run a “Healthier Tills” system whereby you will only find foods such as delicious dried fruits and nuts or nutritious snacks. Aldi was one of the first supermarkets to remove confectionery from the checkout area and they do not run promotions on sugary drinks or confectionery.
I’m a little bit obsessed with buying health foods, but I’m always reluctant to pay an unjustifiable price when it comes to such small snacks. I love the Nakd and Kind ranges for snack bars, and Hippeas and Snack a Jacks for savoury snacks, but they all come at a cost, and a big one at that, unless you’re lucky enough to find them on offer. It doesn’t just stop at snacks either.
Step into Holland and Barrett and you’ll find yourself looking at the same tube of Vitamin C 1000mg effervescent tablets for quadruple the price. Ain’t nobody got time fo’ dat.
ALDI’s whole-food range as part of their healthier-checkout initiative is the holy-grail to fat loss for the working man/woman. Health powders, paleo bars, and healthy baking ingredients are all available. Do not get too excited as you may end up buying (and eating) the lot. However once your mindset is in health drive, you’ll soon opt for the better options. So lets take a look at some of their products:
Flavoured with chilli and lime, they have a bit of an oriental vibe going on. Pea snacks sound really odd, but they’re advertised as a great protein snack – and totally gluten free, so good for those with an intolerance! Great as a savoury crisp alternative.
Macros: 88 kcals 2.9g fat 10g carbs 0.6g sugar 4.2g protein 2.6g fibre £1.29 per 6 pack multi-pack
Yoghurt, smoothies, porridge, you name it, these little black seeds are in there great for overnight refrigeration and consumption on the morning especially if you have a early wake up call. You can’t taste them so they might seem pointless, but they’re an amazing source of Omega 3 fatty acids which is important when keeping mediocre to low carbohydrates within your dietary plan. They’re not particularly low in calories, but it’s worth it for the nutritional value that they offer.
15g provides you with the following macros: 64 kcals 4.2g fat 1.3g carbs <0.5g sugar 2.9g protein 4.9g fibre £1.25 per 200g bag
Available in Berry, Banana and Cacao flavours. Advertised as gluten free, suitable for vegetarians and packed with protein, they seem to be a pretty good option for snacking on-the-go. Just be sure not to consume too many within your working day! So, what about the macros?
Banana: 169 kcals 0.8g fat 25g carbs 16g sugar 11g protein 10g fibre
Berry: 168 kcals 1g fat 25g carbs 16.6g sugar 10.5g protein 9.4g fibre
Cacao: 190 kcals 2.9g fat 28.8g carbs 190.4g sugar 10.5g protein 4.1g fibre 49p per bar
ALDI Range – PALEO
These bars come in Macadamia & Coconut, and Brazil Nut & Cherry. Paleo bars are a huge trend in Australia, and slowly but surely, they’re making their way over here. I’ve seen a few in Waitrose, but at £2 per bar I am not a mug. These bars are gluten free and cold pressed, with nothing but real, whole foods and almond oil in their ingredient list. Though small, they make great evening snacks with a raw taste for those who want some natural bite.
Macadamia & Coconut:213 kcals 12.2g fat 19.5g carbs 15.9g sugar 3.4g protein 5g fibre
Brazil Nut & Cherry: 207 kcals 11.3g fat 20.4g carbs 16.8g sugar 3.5g protein 4.2g fibre 49p per bar or £1.99 per box of 5
CASHEW CRUSH BARS
These bars are ideal for when you want to up the healthy fats in your diet. Not only are they gluten free, they’re also raw and cold pressed, which means they contain no added sugars of preservatives! These bars literally just consist of dates and cashews, so they’re pretty basic as food bars go. These bars lack flavour however. Here’s what’s in each bar:
158 kcals 8g fat 16g carbs 12g sugar 4.1 protein 2.7g fibre £1.99 per box of 5
Everybody knows where they can grab a bag of nuts. Nuts are so tasty on top of porridge or with yoghurt and berries, and they’re obviously a great option for getting those healthy fats into your diet, providing you limit your portion of course! These can be added on top of your Hotel’s own or Gregg’s porridge for an extra protein kick as well as add a little natural flavour. Here are the macros for an average 30g serving:
208 kcals 20g fat 1.8g carbs 0.8g sugar 5.1g protein 1.8g fibre £1.29 per 130g bag
CHERRY AND CRANBERRY BARS
The Foodie Market – Cherry and Cashew Bars
I would put these at the bottom of my list due to their small size and high sugar content. Yes the sugars are natural however they’re much more satiating bars available.
94 kcals <0.5g fat 21g carbs 18g sugar 0.8g protein 2.6g fibre £1.49 per box of 5
Tesco have adopted a similar but not so dramatic move by selling sun-dried crisp bites, fruit and nuts, low calorie protein bars, trail mixes under the check out desk. However one quick glance to your left or right and you’ll be back into the Cadbury’s temptation as the Dairy Milk starts to scream for your attention.
For perishable foods, take a cool bag along with gel ice packs to keep foods cold during your travel time. When flying, if you’re unsure if your ice source is security-friendly, take a large ziplock bag and get ice from a drink shop once you’re in the terminal.
I personally take an electric cooler with me on all car trips, which plugs into the car or a wall socket to make it into a fridge on demand.
To keep foods fresh, it’s best to store foods in airtight (and spill-proof!) containers. Tupperware or lock’n’lock work great.
Options for travel-friendly perishable foods:
Vegetables like carrots and broccoli tossed in extra virgin olive oil or almond butter
Hard boiled eggs (pre peeled!)
Pre-cooked roasted sweet potatoes
Meats like prawns, chicken or beef pre-cut into strips
Single serving packs of guacamole
Wax coated and sealed cheeses
Pre-made salad (yes, you can get this through security with dressing on!)
Packaged foods or foods that don’t need immediate refrigeration make great emergency meals and snacks, especially when spending time overseas or working long hours away from the hotel for work. You can pack large stashes of these foods in your suitcase, and take what you’d like in your carry-on for immediate use. The problem is, people have issues choosing the healthy versions.
Options for travel-friendly “no fridge” necessary foods:
Beef jerky (lean and low sodium options are available)
Protein bars like Grenade Carb Killas, Quest Bars, Promax Bars, MyProtein ProBar.
Nuts and seeds (or pre-made trail mixes)
Dried or freeze-dried fruit (dried mango or apple chips)
Individual packets of sun dried crisp bites (usually found by the supermarket counter)
Individual packets of sugar free hard boiled sweets.
Wild-caught salmon (in a pouch, not a can!)
Fresh fruits like apples, bananas, avocados or oranges
SLF Bonus tip! Take your own snacking dark chocolate, table dressing or condiments. Restaurants typically offer processed condiments, meat and dressings made from vegetable oils rather than olive oil. This can lead to avoidable bloat, unpleasant digestive distress and nausea.
A few travel-friendly accessories like reusable forks, plates, a small sharp knife, and cloth napkins will help as you eat the food you’ve brought with you. However be aware, nearly all supermarket entrances house a snack or coffee section which will cater for plastic utensils with paper towels, etc. Never be afraid to ask. Many times I have asked Subway to reheat my Tupperware box for 60 seconds and this should not be a problem (unless he/she has been rolling out 12 inch Toasted Tuna’s for the past 12 hours).
Take your own reusable water bottle and coffee flask to use throughout your trip. This will eliminate the cost and waste of endless amounts of plastic water bottles and cups that can add up while traveling. If flying, you will need to empty your water bottle before going through security.
First on the counter? They’re there for a reason. Wait until you get to the till for the healthier options.
Don’t be shy about taking any other small conveniences that make you feel comfortable and happy. This includes supplements you might be taking like protein powder, magnesium, digestive enzymes or a probiotic. Bags of your favourite tea you like to drink in the morning, if its a special flavour you do not think the hotel will keep, take it!
“Especially when traveling frequently for work, keeping a semi-normal routine is crucial to overall health and longevity.”
How to Eat Healthy While Traveling: The Arrival
Whether traveling in your own car or by taxi, plan to stop at the supermarket just before reaching your hotel or at some point shortly after you arrive to get items you weren’t able to bring. This is also the time to pick up large bottles of purified water that will last you throughout your trip. I find, the larger the supermarket yes the worse the English within the store but the cheaper the prices and the better and more healthy the range of foods on offer.
If the mini-fridge is more “mini” than expected, you can use your cooler or cooler bag and refresh it with hotel ice every 6-10 hours as you eat the food and free up room in the fridge. Make sure to turn the fridge to the coolest setting if you are packing it full with food as most hotels will have it set to the lowest setting.
Instagram: spencerlissamorefitness – Understanding what to have and what not to.
Throughout your stay, use the airtight containers you brought to pack meals or snacks to take with you out each day. If you’ll be gone from the hotel all day (which most of us are) for work or to explore, you can take these containers in a shoulder bag like a purse or backpack along with your reusable water bottles, coffee container and utensils.
Whether traveling for vacation or work, experiencing new, local cuisine can be the highlight of any trip. Luckily, you can enjoy the food at a majority of the restaurants you’ll visit by follow a few key “tricks” of the trade:
If picking your own restaurants, search directly in Google, Yelp, or Trip Advisor for keywords like “grass-fed” or “gluten-free” along with “restaurant” and the name of city you’re visiting.
When you arrive at a restaurant, tell the waiter you are gluten-free (dairy-free, or whatever you are trying to avoid) and would appreciate their help in making substitutions. Most of the time, they’ll make immediate recommendations and let the chef know your sensitivity.
When ordering salads, simply ask to sub the dressing for a side of olive oil (if you didn’t bring your own!) Ask them to hold any croutons or cheeses if you’re choosing to avoid gluten and processed dairy.
You can order any burger dish by simply asking them to hold the bun or replace the bun with lettuce leaves, and leave any sauce on the side. If you’d like to avoid the items fried in vegetable oils, sub out the fries for other sides they offer like grilled vegetables or sweet potato fries.
Trying to keep the carbs down? Is it late? With meat dishes ask the waiter to “double up the veg” and leave out the rice, potato or pasta which would usually take its spot on your plate.
Don’t Worry. Be Happy…
Everything is fine. In moderation.
While all of these tips can help you eat healthy food while traveling and working away, the most important thing you can do throughout your trip is to not stress about food imperfection. In fact, one of the number one causes of digestive distress is stress. This means, you could be eating the most nutrient-dense, pristine diet there is, but if you’re stressed, you’re not only impairing the breakdown and absorption of your food, you’re also suppressing your immune system.
In short, enjoy yourself and the opportunity you’ve been given to have a job, or travel and be on vacation. If that means bringing your own desserts, then go for it. But don’t miss out on exploring all that new cuisines have to offer. So long as you’re in a calorie deficit there will not be an issue, so enjoy your meal. Do not over indulge and be sure to track your calories using the SLFitness App if you find that your over. Go for a walk and get those steps in to ensure you’ve burnt off that chocolate fudge brownie.
Got questions about how to eat healthy while traveling and working away?
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Thanks for reading and stay up to date for my new blog post on:
The SLFitness Guide to Packing for a Healthy Holiday
— Coach SL.
Credit and Support: Lee Rogers & Ellie May Jackson