How do you eat nutritiously when your next meal is being served at 30,000 feet or being bought at a roadside truck stop? What do you do on a long trip with few, if any, meal stops along the way? How can you be sure that healthy foods are available when you are ready to eat? The good news is that you can eat well whenever you eat or wherever you go. All it takes is a little planning and a nutritional road-map of the territory ahead.
Like checking the map, or consulting a travel agent before taking a trip, a little advance planning can make eating on the run much easier and more enjoyable. To pre-plan your trip from a nutritional standpoint, take some time to consider the following things before you hop in the car or board the airplane:
Thinking about what and when you will eat while you are on the road plays an important role in terms of planning ahead. Since different modes of travel can affect your food choices, you also need to consider exactly how you will get to your destination. Knowing a little bit about the potential food choices available on planes, trains, automobiles and in hotels will help you perfect your nutritional travel plans.
Despite what you may have heard about airline food, healthy and delicious meals are available for sky-diners. All you have to do is ask. Virtually all commercial air carriers offer special and nutrition-oriented meals upon request. Low fat, low cholesterol, high fiber, low sodium, vegetarian and diabetic meals are typically available on all flights that offer a meal service, provided the airline is notified at least 24 hours prior to departure. To order a special meal, contact your airline or travel agent in advance.
Healthy snacking is also possible while traveling by air. When the snack cart makes its rounds, stock up on the following, commonly available snacks:
Dehydration or an excessive loss of body fluids is a common concern for air travelers. Fortunately, dehydration can easily be prevented by drinking plenty of non-alcoholic, caffeine-free beverages throughout the flight. Ideal beverage choices include plain or sparkling water, fruit or vegetable juices or milk.
Travelling to work by regular or light rail train is a fact of life for many urban commuters. While many rail travellers use their time on the train to read, sleep or otherwise relax, you can also use a daily train trip as the site of a healthy meal or snack, especially if you are pressed for time during the rest of the day. For instance, if you really don’t have time for breakfast at home, try packing a muffin or bagel, a container of yogurt and a piece of fruit in your bag. When you get on the train, sit back and enjoy your 'breakfast to go.'
Do you find that your stomach growls all the way home in the afternoon? No problem, simply bring along a granola bar and a can of juice to snack on during the trip home in the evening. Taking a few minutes to plan ahead in this way will allow you to make the most of your time on the train.
Finding a healthy meal at a road-side cafe or truck stop can sometimes seem next to impossible. Less nutritious snacks such as potato chips, soft drinks, chocolate and coffee are very tempting after spending hours inside a vehicle. Despite these challenges, healthy eating, even on a long trip, is possible, provided you know what to look for and how to prepare for the road ahead.
The simplest way to be guaranteed a nutritious meal or snack is to bring your own. Consider packing a cooler with delicious foods from the four food groups of Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating. Look for foods that not only taste great, but are portable. Try fresh fruit, cheese, juice boxes, crackers, English muffins, hard boiled eggs and home-made sandwiches. In addition, pretzels, dried fruits and air-popped popcorn can help cure a snack attack.
Restaurants and cafes can also help fill the hunger- gap when you are on the road. Although it sometimes seems that nutritious choices are few and far between when it comes to truck stop menus, chances are there are at least one or two healthier items from which to choose. Look for the following foods as you check out the menu:
If, after checking the menu, you still don’t see what you want, talk to the waitress. Most restaurants, even fast food chains, will accommodate special orders - all you have to do is ask!
Hotels are your home away from home when you travel. Stocking your room with healthy foods is another way for you to stay on track nutritionally. Once you arrive at your hotel, check with the desk clerk to see if there is a grocery store nearby. Next, go on a short shopping trip to pick up a supply of your favourite healthy treats. Foods to look for include: fresh, dried or personal-sized servings of canned fruits, rice cakes or crackers, muffins, peanut butter, fig bars and dry cereals. If you are fortunate enough to have a room that comes equipped with a mini-fridge take advantage of this cold-storage space. Stock up on small containers of milk or yogurt and drinking boxes of juice. Keeping a ready supply of nutritious foods on hand in your hotel room is another way to make healthy eating as deliciously simple as possible.
Eating well can go a long way to making life healthier and happier for both veteran travellers and occasional voyageurs. By planning ahead and knowing the 'nutritional territory,' you can make healthy eating a part of every trip.