My no-BS tips to stay healthy when you travel
I often get asked for tips on how to stay healthy when you travel.
Travelling used to make me feel stressed about my weight…
I’d worry about gaining weight, looking bad in photos and not having enough ‘healthy options'.
At some point, a healthy interest in nutrition turned into an obsession that was anything but helpful - or healthy.
When I stopped restricting myself on holiday, It was such a relief and I noticed that I actually lost weight. Why? I ate less often and walked a lot more. I wasn't bound by scheduled meals. Nor did I snack in front of the TV at night.
So here is my advice on how to keep it real and stay healthy while you travel:
1. Don’t waste time (and energy) at the hotel gym.
Hotel gyms suck. There. I just said what you were already thinking. You didn't travel to exercise in a cramped room when you can easily expend energy exploring your new city. Save your energy for exploration and adventure.
Walk EVERY WHERE. It’s far more fun and doesn't cost a thing - plus you can explore as your burn.
Buy a fitness tracker and get your steps up. It's not uncommon to get 20,000+ steps a day when travelling. Go to a park and do a circuit if that's your thing. Hire bikes. Take the active option whenever possible.
2. Please don’t pack extra food for the plane.
Don't pack extra snacks. Skip the chocolate and lollies. Skip the protein bars and raw slice. If you pack extra snacks, you may end up eating them plus the plane food.
Unless you are a very fussy eater, don't pack extras. Order the vegetarian or vegan meal if you really want a healthier option but otherwise, let go control. Sure - plane food isn't the healthiest but you don't fly every day. Isn't it a relief, to eat and not worry for once?
You can always ask for a piece of fruit on the plane. There is plenty of food. If you get constipated, take some seeds with you to add to your meal. I love flaxseeds.
3. Self-cater a simple breakfast
I don't like hotel breakfast buffets. Don't get my wrong. They are delicious but when the buffet table is loaded high, there is an incredibly good chance you'll eat more than your hunger asks.
Plus, breakfast in any hotel tends to be pretty standard. It's unlikely you'll be trying anything new, authentic, particularly exciting or have the best meal of your life.
When booking accommodation, I look for places that don't have breakfast included (unless it's remote/the only choice).
I prefer to self-cater a light breakfast. I'd rather have a coffee and light meal at a local cafe. That way, I save money and don't feel heavy and bloated for the day of travel.
4. Swap the never-ending buffet breakfast for one plate
If you are at a buffet, it helps to have a plan. First, scan the offering before grabbing a plate. Decide on what are your need-to-have items. Pick one thing a day e.g. eggs or cereal and stick to that. At a buffet, I'll aim to only get the one plate of food and not go back for seconds.
Don't worry about 'wasting' food or getting your money's worth. If you eat food and it makes you feel uncomfortable, that is a waste and costs you in the long run.
If I over eat at the buffet, it means less food when I'm out and about. I'd rather miss out on the buffet than the travel food.
When I get to my table, because I know I am only having one plate so I'll eat slowly instead of already thinking about getting a second helping before I even start. Eat fruit if you're still hungry after instead of going back for seconds.
5. Plan more active holidays
Some holidays make it really, really hard to be healthy. Like going to a resort or on a cruise where you are a never ending buffet table and not much room to be active all day.
Instead, plan trips that give you the opportunity to be active. Walk the streets of Rome, climb the steps of the Great Wall of China, go skiing, Hike in Yosemite national park or go cycling around Amsterdam.
6. Don’t avoid authentic foods because it's "too fattening"
If you do, you may miss out on the culture - the reason you're actually travelling! Most foods you consider fattening (like carbohydrates, fruit, healthy fats) probably aren't... When you are a balanced eater, you can taste everything, eat everything in moderation and don't have to miss out to be healthy.
Try the local food. Have a taste. Then ask yourself: "I am allowed to eat it but do I like it? Do I really enjoy eating this?"
7. Practice Crowding.
Focus on adding, not subtracting. Instead of "what should I avoid" ask yourself... What should I be eating more of? This is a small mindset change that makes a big difference.
Fill up on more vegetables. Snack on local fruit. Try things you haven't tried before. Drink water. You'll naturally fill up on the healthier options.
8. Load up on local veggies to help prevent constipation.
When I travel, I’ll buy seeds to add to breakfasts. You can also snack on nuts or local fruit. It's always fun to try new foods. Otherwise, stick to familiar foods like a banana or pear or seeds. For more tips on foods to prevent constipation, check out this post.
Eat what the locals eat and push yourself outside your comfort zone. Food (and holidays) are meant to be fun - not restrictive. How do the locals make vegetables taste great? Can it inspire your cooking back home?
9. Your weight will return to normal when you get back to your routine.
As soon as you come home and get back into your normal life, you'll notice your weight shift back to it's pre-holiday state. Get back to eating the same kinds of foods you did before you left and get back to your usual physical activities.
When you get back, you’ll naturally crave lots of vegetables and healthy, home cooked meals. If you restrict all holiday, you'll burn out and probably won't experience this renewed desire to eat well.
10. Don’t look at travel photos and pick out your worst bits…
You don’t need to post your travel photos on Facebook. When you start to judge yourself, gently push the negative thoughts away and replace them with the words you'd use to speak to a friend.
If you've been dieting your whole life, chances are you have body dysmorphia and don't see your body as other people do. Picking yourself apart won't make you lose weight or be happy.
Pack clothes that actually fit you. Breathable fabrics are a great idea because when you feel comfortable, you'll feel happier. You want to feel confident.
11. Listen to your hunger
Ask yourself before meals: “Am I hungry?” When travelling, you don’t have a strict schedule so it’s easier to eat by your appetite – instead of the clock. You may even forget to eat or realise you don’t snack as much.
Practice listening to your body instead of a schedule. You may be surprised with what it's trying to tell you.
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