There was a great article in the Ottawa Citizen that discussed ways to manage eating while we travel.  Whether you’re staying in a hotel or staying with friends/family, it’s sometimes difficult to stick to any “routine.”  This is the issue that all of us encounter: when structure or routine goes out the window, perceived “willpower” can sometimes follow.  It’s important to have a plan of action before travelling so that you can manage a different schedule and still make healthy choices.  Some of us use travel (especially if it’s vacation) to justify going off track…the most important thing is to always, always get BACK ON TRACK no matter what.  Sometimes this is easier said than done, I know.


Author Andrea Holwegner discusses practical ways that people can stay on track while they’re travelling in her article: “How to eat well when you’re on the road.”  By pre-planning and deciding ahead of time that you will stick to these simple principles, you will be amazed at your success.  At restaurants, don’t hesitate to ask for what you want.  Many restaurants will serve excess portions of starchy foods like rice/potatoes/pasta/bread because they’re cheaper than vegetables and protein-rich foods.  Ask for double the veggies as a substitute to starch – most restaurants will honour your request.  For example, almost all breakfast restaurants will serve tomato slices instead of home-fries if you ask.

Snacking on the road is always a challenge.  Whether you’re stuck at an airport or in a car, it’s important to fuel yourself with foods that will keep you satisfied and energized.  Tiredness or stress when travelling can also lead to poor food options since our body tends to crave quick-energy foods (i.e. sugary, starchy foods)…choosing foods with protein or good fat will prevent the blood sugar from spiking & crashing, and thus keep energy levels more even.  Holwegner gives a list of healthy snack options in her article that can usually be found at airports or rest-stops: yogurt and berries, cheese, veggies & dip, cottage cheese, hard-boiled egg, protein bar, nuts (almonds, cashews, etc.), salad with grilled chicken, etc. These choices will keep you feeling full longer than higher-carbohydrate options like chips or crackers.

Many of us tend to get dehydrated when we travel which leads to increased fatigue and irritability.  Buy a water bottle to bring on the plane (or in the car), and make sure you have water/fluid handy if you’re sitting through hours of meetings or lectures.  Also, alcohol can sometimes be a big part of travelling – whether it’s at client dinners or at an all-inclusive resort, alcohol adds up calories and sugar to your daily intake.  A good rule of thumb is to drink a glass of water for every alcoholic beverage you consume; this slows down alcohol consumption and keeps you hydrated at the same time.

Changing our eating habits when travelling also means changing our perspective on what we consider important.  While many of us tend to associate “value” with indulging on special foods while we’re on holiday or travelling for work, considering putting “value” into things like: better energy, better mood, less bloating, more confidence and feeling in control.

Pre-planning is really key to being in control at any part of this healthy lifestyle journey – whether you’re losing weight, getting in shape, or maintaining weight loss.  Take time to plan on what healthy decisions you’ll make while travelling. By doing this, you’ll come home feeling comfortable to get back into your normal routine without delay.  All of us are bombarded with food decisions on a daily basis; when we travel, the decisions become more difficult and less structured.  Plan on always getting back on track, even if one meal or snack is “off”…make a healthier decision at the next meal or snack.  The important thing is to never give up on your efforts.  Slip-ups make us more conscious; no one is perfect. Perfectionism can be detrimental to weight loss. So, be kind to yourself and pre-plan so that you go into a situation with confidence and comfort.

Keep awareness no matter where you are or what you’re doing – you’ll naturally make more informed decisions about what you choose to eat. Never give up on your goal for better health – you can and WILL achieve it.

Dr. Doug