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Eat Healthy While You're Traveling

By HERWriter Guide
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Eat Healthy While Traveling Roberto La Forgia/Flickr

Many people veer away from their normal diets when they're traveling. They might eat out a lot and, especially when in unfamiliar places or countries, they may not eat what they normally do.

Food offerings on planes and trains are highly processed. Travelers with digestive disorders, and even those with hardy stomachs, often find themselves bloated, dealing with diarrhea or constipation, and just generally feeling unwell.

I am a hardy traveler myself, but I have a digestive disorder. There are a few ways to combat this to make traveling as comfortable and relaxing as possible.

Car Travel

Instead of stopping at convenience-food stores or fast-food joints, consider taking along a cooler. Fill it with healthy options like Greek yogurt, unprocessed cheese, washed raw vegetables/fruit and lots of water.

Dry snacks can include a homemade muesli mix (something I always bring) consisting of almonds, walnuts, raisins and dried cranberries. Low-sugar fiber bars are both delicious and filling. It’s nice to go out to eat, but keeping snacks as healthy as possible will keep the digestive system regular.

The Independent Traveler is a website that offers some high-tech options to stay healthy. The website suggests that “for help finding healthy local eateries, try the VegOut app, which offers listings of nearby vegan, vegetarian and vegetarian-friendly restaurants. GoodFoodNearYou is another useful app that pinpoints the healthiest menu options at restaurants in your area, including fast food chains.”

These apps are a really great idea for people of every age.

Plane Travel

I’ve stopped eating meals on planes when my flight is going to be eight hours or less. The highly processed foods that are mass-produced and stuffed into aluminum cartons are almost never healthy. Instead, I bring my muesli mix that is very filling and some fresh fruit, some fiber-rich bars and crackers.

Just eat a good-sized healthy meal before your flight. There should be no need to eat a meal on the flight unless you have a health condition that requires it. Alternatively, choose the vegan option and always eat the salads offered — and hope they’ve been well washed!

The Huffington Post has also discussed the food on planes in an article on the topic of airplane food. They found that “when travelling high in the sky, the cabin humidity drops by approximately 15 percent. With less humidity in your throat, the transport of smell and taste to the brain slows. It has been estimated that your sense of smell and taste decrease between 20-50 percent; the equivalent of having a bad cold.”

They cited a 2010 study funded by Lufthansa Air which showed that food served up in the air needed about 20 percent more salt to taste good, and that the smell of food is also less strong. This is not conducive to whetting the appetite. Therefore, more salt and flavoring needs to be added.

Hotel Travel

Staying at a hotel is a luxury for pleasure travelers. Most hotel rooms have a fridge, and many offer a free breakfast with an overnight stay. Consider stocking that fridge with freshly made salads and lots of bottled water.

When making use of the free buffet breakfast, it’s tempting to go for the fried-to-order options of bacon, sausage, fried eggs and the like. Have a shot at it one day but for other days, stick to high-fiber cereals and fresh fruit. You really will feel better all day if you do.

International Travel

If going to countries where even the locals don’t drink the water, never ever try it. Stick to a recognised brand name of bottled water, and brush your teeth with it too. Enjoy street food, but ask at the hotel about where the best street carts with a reputation for good hygiene can be found.

Ask about the ingredients in all your food, and bring along your own medication in case of digestive discomfort. And if in doubt — don’t eat it.

Do your research before traveling! You’re on vacation. Treat yourself to stores specializing in whole foods and fresh, wholesome ingredients when grocery shopping.

Don’t eat out every night. Create some great meals in your rental. Do a search on where you can eat well, both in restaurants and grocery stores. This way you can have a blast while away, and not end up sick, or with extra weight gain, when you get home.

Happy (and healthy!) trails this summer!


The Independent Traveler. “Eating Well and Staying Active While Travelling”. Web. Retrieved July 12st 2015.

The Huffington Post. The Blog. “Everything You've Wanted to Know About Airplane Food.” Web. Retrieved July 12st 2015.

Reviewed July 29, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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