Eating Healthfully when Traveling

Whenever I travel, whether it be a road trip (hate ‘em) or a cross country flight, my eating always gets out of whack. It’s not that I have such regimented eating habits, I’m just so used to eating an abundance of whole grains, fruits and veggies, home-cooked food and snacking that when I deviate from this, my body, brain, mood, and energy totally shift – and not in a good way. Usually after a few days of traveling I readjust and can always manage to find nutritious foods on the go, but even the healthiest dining establishments will take a toll on your wallet, if not your waistline.

Last week I headed out to Oregon to speak at the Oregon Dietetic Association’s annual conference about social media for dietitians. It was a quick trip – about 48 hours in total – and one where I arrived late at night in Portland, and then left at the crack of dawn to fly home. And since I wanted to bring my A-game to speak at this conference, I didn’t want to rely on airport fast food or questionable conference food to fuel me for this trip. (However, the varied vegetarian lunch they served with tofu and whole grains was one of the better conference meals I’ve had!)

Before heading to the airport, I whipped up a quick veggie and wheat berry stir fry using some fridge leftovers, and packed it in a tossable container with a plastic fork and some sugar snap peas to snack on. I enjoyed this for dinner flying somewhere between Boston and Portland and didn’t have to blow $7.95 on some Alaska Airline fruit and cheese platter, minus the cheese.

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For breakfast in my hotel room (there was none provided with the hotel) I packed a little oatmeal bar to go: snack bags filled with oats, currants, walnuts, brown sugar, chia seeds and hemp seeds. All I needed to do was heat up some water in the hotel room coffee maker and I had a piping hot bowl (ok paper cup) of oatmeal as I ran through my talk one more time. I also packed one of these for breakfast the next day. Instead of paying Starubcks for some perfect oatmeal in the airport, I just got a (free) cup of hot water and enjoyed my own perfect oatmeal breakfast as I waited to board. I also could have saved this for the flight and asked the flight attendant for some hot water.

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I made sure to pack plenty of snacks, like Larabar minis, apples, Triscuits, walnuts, and dried plums. Granted my trip was short so I only had to pack a small amount to tide me over for 48 hours, and this of course didn’t cover my lunch or dinner in Oregon, but it was the best way to keep me on my toes for an important conference.

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Also, since I was stranded in some business center hotel in the ‘burbs of Oregon without a car, I didn’t have the opportunity to check out any Portland restaurants like I did in January. Instead, I ordered room service from the hotel restaurant, which didn’t seem to have many appealing veg entrees. So I scanned the menu and put together three side dishes: a big steamed vegetable plate, grilled polenta cakes, and sautéed cannellini beans. It turned out to be a perfect and well-rounded dinner. Who knew sides could be so satisfying?

What are some ways you eat well when traveling?

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