How to eat healthy while traveling


Nagina Abdullah


February 11, 2019

How to eat healthy while traveling_on the go 2

Traveling can make everything so unpredictable, sometimes stressful, and definitely full of temptation. How to eat healthy while traveling is something I learned over time. I didn’t used to think it was really possible.

Especially when traveling abroad or just across the country, jet lag used to be one of my worst enemies. My whole schedule was thrown off, so I would eat when food was presented to me. It didn’t matter if it was healthy or not.

Was it lunchtime? Was I even hungry yet? Not having my standard schedule made eating healthy on the road feel like a hurdle I couldn’t overcome.

So, instead of trying to figure out how to eat healthy while traveling, I would just decide that eating healthy wasn’t possible until I got home again. But I was traveling more and more for work and to visit family on the other side of the country, and the pounds were stacking up.

I quickly realized that if I didn’t find a way to make healthy eating while traveling possible, I was going to continue gaining weight when I really wanted to lose it.

The good news is it IS possible to travel a lot (cross-country, abroad, etc.) and still eat healthy. These are the ways I found to stay on track with healthy eating even during travel.

In this post, I’ll share with you:

  • What choices you make before you walk out your front door so you feel energized and calm
  • Exact non-perishable and perishable snack ideas for your carry on (that get past security)
  • Specific restaurants to go to when traveling and what I always order
  • Hotel location hacks, and what to call ahead and ask them to foolproof your healthy eating plan

Set your how to eat healthy while traveling intention before you go

Is your travel for pleasure? Will it really be your goal to lose weight while you travel? Maybe your intention is not to gain weight, or maybe you are ok with letting go. Choosing your intention makes you feel less guilty and enjoy yourself while being as healthy as you have chosen to be.

Decide ahead of time, what foods are absolutely off the menu for you, and which ones you’re allowed to have on the road.

For example, I do my best to avoid processed foods, even when I’m traveling. But I’ll allow myself to fall back on protein bars instead of real whole food for when I just don’t have access to them. Having this settled ahead of time makes the whole experience less stressful and easier. (1)

Pack your suitcase and carry-on full of healthier options

You can bring food through security when you’re flying, it’s just liquids you have to be careful about.

I’ve taken a whole meal with salmon, black beans, and asparagus through security!

Don’t leave your first day in your destination up to chance. I like to pack enough food to sustain me while I travel AND for a full, healthy meal when I arrive.

That way, I know I have a delicious meal that makes me feel good and I won’t be tempted to stop off somewhere and overeat on my way to the hotel.

Here are some examples of snacks you can pack in tupperware and eat in the air or on the rails.

  • Veggies and hummus
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Fruit (berries are lowest in sugar)
  • Protein powder (bring a shaker cup and combine with water during travel)
  • Protein bars

Read more about specific meals (and see pictures) I pack to take on the plane so I’m healthy WHILE I travel in my article on how to eat healthy while traveling for work.

Get an easy-reference FREE cheat sheet PDF with my go-to travel snacks here.

Decide (ahead of time) how many nights a week you’ll drink cocktails and/or how many you want to have

Knowing this beforehand will help you stay in control at the hotel bar or at a restaurant. Also decide ahead of time how many drinks you’ll have each night.

I say that 2-3 drinks 2-3 times a week is fine. See my top recommended cocktails and my original healthier cocktail recipes here!

How to eat healthy while staying in a hotel

Store your own food as your next line of defense against last-minute decisions you’ll regret a minute later.

Another great solution for how to eat healthy while traveling involves booking your hotel. When you’re booking your hotel, make sure it has a mini fridge so you can keep healthy perishables at hand.

Store healthy snacks like hummus and veggies, hard-boiled eggs, Greek yogurt, etc. in your hotel room mini fridge. (1) You can throw it in your bag or purse for when you are on the go.

As a bonus to prevent your own temptations, ask them to remove any alcohol or snacks (they’ll only supply sugary candy and refined crackers) so you can stick to your plan easily.

It’s like having your own special suite in a spa dedicated to your health and wellness!

The second thing to look for when booking a hotel is to search on Google maps for one that’s near a grocery store. Whole Foods or another health food or even a regular grocery store with a hot bar is idea.

This is so you can stock up or stop by to get healthy food (protein like fish, chicken, eggs, beans + veggies from the hot bar for example) frequently. This way you won’t be reliant on fast food and convenience food. (1)

Call the front desk and ask to get a scale delivered to your room

This is if you want to see the impact of what you’re eating while you’re gone from home. It keeps your food and your plans for how to eat healthy while traveling top of mind.  It’s better to know while you’re on the trip than to have an unpleasant surprise when you get home.

It also keeps your weight “real” or right in front of you. It can be easy to get carried away when you’re not monitoring, or just having the mentality of, “I’ll deal with it later.”

Order room service or have breakfast in a place where they offer eggs or other higher protein options to start the day right.

You can basically get a good omelette anywhere. And that’s a good thing because eggs are a perfect protein for keeping you satisfied and warding off any unnecessary snacking until lunch. If you don’t eat eggs, look for Greek yogurt or vegan / vegetarian protein options. 

It’s so easy to set yourself up for a good day by starting with this simple practice.

Get more of my ideas for how to eat healthy while traveling for work and the best ways to exercise in a hotel here.

The best restaurants for healthy options

My favorite fast-casual restaurant in airports and train stations is Pret A Manger because they have protein-packed bowls and easy-to-grab eggs in the morning. Follow me on Instagram @MasalaBody and look at the shared stories where I film what I decided to order at Pret in New York Penn station. 

Also Chipotle is great healthy option if you order a burrito bowl with no chips or guacamole. This is because they put so much on there and it’s hard to control yourself, so just keep it off.

My favorite cuisines to keep it light when traveling are Japanese, American, and Mediterranean. Read more about specific foods to order at these restaurants here.

Louise lost 13 pounds (6 kgs) in 10 weeks WHILE traveling 5 days a week for work. It can be done! Read more about how she did it here.

One other tip I have for when you’re on vacation is to eat less – and it’s easy when you follow my strategy to skip one meal, or just eat two big meals and then have one very light meal or snack. Check out my video from Hawaii where I share why this works!

Easily Eat Less On Vacation with my vacation strategy

Non-perishable healthy foods for travel

I like to stock up on non-perishables that won’t cause any fuss and won’t taste weird warm.

Almonds and other nuts, low-sugar protein bars like Quest Bars, roasted seaweed packs, or single serve packets of nut butter, like Justin’s or RX brand are the perfect portable non-perishables.

Get my top recommendations for premiere protein, the best snack packs, and more exciting snack ideas in this free PDF!

Start your day with low sugar smoothies and stay hydrated with water and these teas to boost weight loss and benefit your body in so many ways. Read more in these posts!

6 low sugar smoothies to start your day

Surprising herbal tea benefits and 8 caffeine-free teas (some you probably haven’t tried!)

How Tea for Weight Loss Transformed My Mornings (+ the Way My Husband Looks at Me!)

Perishable healthy foods for travel

But you’re not limited to non-perishables entirely. You can bring veggies like celery, cucumbers, carrots, and tomatoes.

You can also pack your own fruit in small BPA free soup containers that are leak proof. I also like to pack fresh strawberries or blueberries in containers, too. That way they don’t get squashed. It’s so refreshing to have fresh berries on a dry, cramped airplane!

Add-ins to bring specifically to the airport

Pack your own healthy and filling add-ins to add to any airport food that’s pretty healthy. (2)

You’ll probably be able to find a Starbucks or some other place where you can order egg or egg white bites or get Greek yogurt. But many of the ad-ins these places offer are nuts coated in sugar or dried fruit, which is high in sugar and sometimes also coated in it.

Pack hemp seeds, roasted or raw nuts, and seeds, cinnamon in a transportable spice missile (I never leave home without one!), single serve nut butter packets. These will add protein to your airport meal, keep your blood sugar levels more stable, and provide you with satisfying and nourishing healthy fats.

Don’t forget your cheat sheet PDF with easy and foolproof travel snack ideas here.

What are your “How to eat healthy while traveling” tips? Let me know! I love hearing the creative things busy, successful women come up with to stay fit.

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Nagina Sethi Abdullah, BA, MBA

Nagina Abdullah is a health coach for middle-aged women and professionals. She coaches women to boost their metabolism naturally, shed pounds and keep them off. Her work with weight loss clients led to the creation of Masala Body, an online weight loss platform that provides an easy and accessible system that helps women sustainably lose weight. She has helped over 1200 women successfully lose from 10-80 lbs and create a sustainable lifestyle change. Nagina earned her degree in Molecular and Cell Biology from UC Berkeley.

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