The word travel is synonymous with food in my mind. You can’t travel to a new place without indulging in the local cuisine, trying new flavours and experiencing the culture through food.
But when travelling long term, eating out and consistent indulging can become both financially and energetically draining. This can impact your nutrition and your overall travel experience!
As a certified nutrition coach and nomadic ex-pat currently living in the food haven that is Mexico, here are some of my best tips for finding balance in your diet while travelling.
It’s All About Balance
The number one principle when it comes to health in any form is undoubtedly balance. There is no need to do anything perfectly! Being healthy looks feels and tastes different to each person, so experiment with your own diet to see what works best for you. Restricting yourself while travelling is never going to be fun and may result in regret and missed opportunities. Cut yourself some slack, be kind to your mind and your body and enjoy yourself!
That being said I have some generic nutrition principles I find when applied roughly, work for most people.
Have a Nutrition Checklist In the Back of Your Mind
With each meal, whether you are eating in a restaurant or preparing food for yourself, have a nutrition checklist in the back of your mind. I prefer to use a daily or even weekly scale to allow flexibility in my meals but generally, each meal will serve you best if it has:
Protein: meat, chicken, fish, eggs, yoghurt, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds
Fibre: fruit, vegetables, grains, bread, rice, corn, potatoes
Fat: oil (some oils are better than others), avocado, nuts, seeds, fatty fish
Without this balance of protein + fibre + fat, chances are you will be feeling hungry and/or uncomfortable within a short period of time, often leading to food cravings like sweet treats and processed convenience foods.
If you’re a person who loves to snack in your regular routine, chances are you’re going to want to snack while travelling. From my experience, there are also certain times when snacks are essential, a.k.a airports, aeroplanes and any other mode of transport. Knowing how to choose the best snacks for you can be revolutionary.
Be prepared before you travel, make something homemade or buy some of your favourite snacks you are familiar with to take with you. Buying food at an airport can be stressful and expensive so be prepared.
If you do need to buy something in transit, think about the nutrition checklist above. Chances are you won't find a completely balanced meal but most airports have places to buy things like nuts, fruit, smoothies and sandwiches, which can help tide you over until you reach your destination.
Snacking in a new country is also fun! Try the local foods, ask for recommendations and be open-minded, this is part of the experience!
Know Your Triggers
How well do you know your body? Do you know that eating cheese makes you feel like crap? Or too much caffeine gives you coffee-anxiety? Learn to listen to your body when you don’t feel great and start to identify your triggers, travelling or not.
Different from allergies, our bodies can build up intolerances after being exposed to a certain food consistently, resulting in allergy-like symptoms. So if you’ve been eating all the bread recently, try and pair it back to smaller amounts less frequently.
Common intolerances are dairy, gluten and refined sugar, and while I do NOT recommend completely eliminating any of these foods from your diet, I would encourage you to be mindful of your consumption and how you feel after eating foods high in dairy/gluten/sugar, then adjusting your diet accordingly.
Include Daily Movement
Even if you ate the world’s cleanest, greenest, healthiest diet, your body still needs movement for optimal function. Often when travelling, exercise routines such as going to the gym and attending group sessions goes out the window. And that's completely fine! Exercise does not only occur in the gym.
There are millions of ways to move your body to support your health. Depending on where you are in the world, try a drop-in yoga class, or follow along with an online course, go for a local hike, explore nature, find a secret beach, join a salsa class, swim some laps in the hotel pool, do some gentle stretches, the list is endless, just move your body in a way that feels good!
When you fuel your body with nutritious foods, it thrives, giving you more energy to explore, adventure and enjoy, while also enabling you to feel most like yourself. That’s going to help you feel more comfortable in your bikini, more photogenic for your snaps and leave you with incredible memories to cherish forever! Try applying some of these principles to your next trip or long-term travels and happy adventuring!