Eating healthy in the summer can be a challenge. Many of us have vacations coming up, from family road trips to flying to faraway destinations. The healthy food habits you’ve created at home may be disrupted as you face travel time and unfamiliar places. You may also be vacationing with friends or family who have good intentions, but push sweet treats or less healthy foods your way.
What can you do to make nutritious, travel-friendly meals and snacks more accessible when you’re away from home? What can you say to politely decline unwanted food or treats from insistent friends or family?
Tips for eating healthy while traveling
- Plan ahead: Whenever possible, bring your own snacks and easy meal items. Pack travel-friendly snacks, such as unsalted nuts, applesauce cups, whole fresh fruit, single serving nut butters, and whole-grain crackers. If you have a small cooler, you could also pack string cheese, single-serve hummus, veggies, or Greek yogurt.
- Choose wisely when eating out: Scope out the restaurant menu ahead of time and look for options that contain fruits and vegetables. Choose to drink water or milk instead of soda. Avoid breaded items, opting instead for grilled or baked options with sauces on the side. Keep in mind many restaurants will fill your plate with big portion sizes. Take your time eating and chewing your food — stopping periodically to determine if you’re full and at a good stopping point.
- Be food safe. Always wash or sanitize your hands before eating, as this is the best way to prevent getting sick and spreading germs. Make sure that cold food stays cold and hot food stays hot. Use caution when drinking tap water in developing countries or some U.S. locations.
Tips for handling “food pushers”
- Politely say, “no thank you.” Politely decline a food if you don’t want it, and be firm. Sometimes when people insist you eat something (known as food pushers), they’re projecting their own feelings or desires on you. Other times, food can be a way for others to try to connect with you or please you. Reciprocate that by spending time together and expressing an interest in their life, despite declining their offer of food.
- Know your “why.” If you know that less healthy food will be readily available where you’re staying, remind yourself why eating healthy is important to you. Perhaps it’s a healthy lifestyle you want to maintain. Or the reason might be having more energy, feeling good about yourself, or being an example for your kids.
- Eat mindfully. Studies have found that the first bites of food have a stronger taste and sensation. So, if you want to try your aunt’s favorite cake recipe, choose a smaller portion and savor each bite.
Share your tips for travel-friendly meals and nutritious snacks, along with how you’ll stay healthy as you vacation with friends and family this summer.
LEARN MORE: Smart Snacking While Traveling