As I write this, I’m en route from my most recent travel experience – a seriously magical (child-free!) trip to the Greek islands for nine days with my hubby.
On the long plane ride home I started reflecting on the trip and just what made it so great (I mean besides the obvious fact I was just vacationing in Greece).
Sure the weather was awesome, the scenery was gorgeous, the people were friendly, the food and drinks were amazing and we were completely free of any and all responsibilities (other than figuring out what beach to hit up or where we wanted to go for dinner that night), which all in all makes a recipe for one hell of an experience.
Even if we had the exact same setup for this trip, 10 years prior I know I would’ve been miserable. I’m certain I would’ve spent most of the time agonizing over every single food choice, worrying about missing a workout and skipping meals in order to “feel good” in my bathing suit.
It’s taken me a lot of work to get to this point, and I still have my weak moments (especially as it relates to my body image) but for the most part I can honestly say I feel really good, especially after this trip.
I ate everything I wanted to, but only as much as I really wanted to, and I listened to my body and how it felt instead of my head (aka food rules or guilt). I ate dessert, but I also ate a ton of veggies. I drank wine when I wanted, but I also drank plenty of water. I worked out when I felt like it and rested when I felt like it. I stayed up late some nights and went to bed early others.
Now, while becoming the expert of your own body and trusting your choices is key to feeling good (physically, mentally and emotionally), it’s a constant work in progress for everyone (because you’re continuously changing). That being said, it’s also crucial to have the right information, health hacks and expert tips handy, in order to experiment and figure out which ones work best for you.
Because life involves these experiences, and I don’t want you to miss out on (or suffer through) them. I hope you find this healthy travel/eating out guide helpful, and as a result when new travel opportunities or experience arise, you’re able to truly enjoy them, because you deserve to.
This is the first step to feeling really good in any situation, and it CANNOT be bypassed. In order to figure out what you really want out of any experience you need to get clarity on your intentions with it, and that includes food.
Before you go on your next trip or even order your next meal, think about what the ideal scenario is for you. Are you hoping to enjoy the local cuisine? Do you feel hungry and need something super nourishing, or are you still kind of full and looking to enjoy a small bite without feeling stuffed? Are you tired and in need of something energizing? Or do you feel wired and want something to help calm and ground you?
Take a ten-second pause before any meal (and a bit longer before a big trip) to get really clear on what it is you want to experience so that you can actually go out and experience it. As silly as it sounds, I also encourage my clients to write it down (and I personally love using my Five Minute Journal app).
For me, the local cuisine had always been a big part of Greece’s appeal. I knew I wanted to try a lot of the local, authentic dishes like Greek salads (WITH) salty feta, whole grilled fish, crisp white wines and fluffy Greek yogurt bowls drizzled in honey. I wasn’t sure how my stomach would do with all of that dairy, so I promised myself I’d take it meal by meal, see how I felt, and find other ways to balance it all out (see below).
This has been a very successful tactic for many of my clients, as it’s another way to be intentional about food choices and provides you with a backup plan in the case you over-indulge or regret a decision (we’re human, it happens).
The IF/THEN Plan works by inserting an IF/THEN statement into your experience. For example, I could be feeling inflamed due to all the wine I was drinking on the trip and tempted to make up a rule like “I’m not drinking alcohol today” only to crave a chilled glass of rose with dinner. So then I could say well IF I drink some wine tonight, THEN I will drink at least two glasses of water before bed.
Or IF I don’t get in a good workout today, THEN I’ll just try to squeeze in a longer one tomorrow. Or IF I didn’t really eat that many vegetables today, THEN I’ll start my day off with a green smoothie tomorrow.
You may not always follow the IF/THEN plan to a tee (and that’s totally okay) but many of my clients have found it helpful when things don’t go the way they had originally envisioned and they start to spiral or feel guilty as a result. At the end of the day there’s always something you can do to help yourself feel better (instead of worse), you just have to make the choice to actually do it.
A little research prior to your outing (or even during your trip) can really go a long way in making healthy options more readily available.
Before I go on any trip I’ll always seek out any friends that I know have recently traveled (or live) in the location to ask for their personal recommendations, as well as refer to good old google.
Some of my top google phrases include “healthy breakfast spots”, “healthy smoothies”, “best healthy restaurants” and “best restaurants” in whatever area I’m staying. Trip Advisor will usually always turn up hits, as well as relevant travel articles and reviews (and yelp or eater if you’re in the states/certain locations).
Then I’ll make a list of options to have on hand so that I know I can have some healthier options if and when I need, which brings me to…
Breakfast, aka my secret weapon. Starting your day out on a vibrant, nourished, healthy note is key to thriving the rest of the day. Even if you only eat a healthy breakfast and junk for lunch and dinner (which is less likely to do after starting out on a healthy note) you still chose to fuel yourself with 33% of your food intake (or 1/3 of your daily meals) in an optimal way, and that’s impactful.
I encourage you to choose and seek out something that you know makes you feel REALLY good for your first meal of the day, then notice the difference it makes throughout the rest of it. For me this changes depending on the seasons and needs, but for the most part I know I feel my best when I have a protein-rich meal with some quality fats and plenty of veggies, like an egg scramble with spinach, sweet potatoes and avocado or a green smoothie with collagen powder and seeds or nut butter.
This one is key, especially if you’re not sure what options might be the most optimal as far as ingredients and nutrient-density (or if you’re looking to avoid certain contaminates like processed oils or gluten that make you feel crappy).
+ Cooking techniques like grilled, steamed, boiled, broiled, baked, pan-seared, poached, raw
+ Meat/animal products referred to as grass-fed AND grass-finished, pasture-raised, organic, hormone-free, antibiotic-free
+ Fish referred to as wild-caught (Alaskan or Norwegian waters are typically cleanest)
+ Produce referred to as local, organic, pesticide free
+ Terms like gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, whole30 or paleo (if you’re looking to avoid certain foods)
+ Cooking fats and oils like grass-fed butter or ghee, extra virgin organic olive, avocado or coconut oil
+ Sauces that are herb, vegetable or tomato-based like pesto, marinara, puttanesca, pistou, etc.
+ Cooking techniques like creamed, fried, breaded, stuffed, loaded, sweetened
+ Meat/animal products that are “all natural” or “free range” which is really just clever marketing, as well as any cured meats with nitrates such as bacon, salami, etc.
+ Fish that’s been farmed
+ Anything that sounds super processed or contains more than 10 ingredients (or ingredients you can’t pronounce)
+ Cooking fats and oils such as canola or vegetable oil, grapeseed or rapeseed oil, palm, sunflower, etc.
+ Sauces that are cream, butter or bread based like gravy (typically contains flour), béarnaise, alfredo, etc.
+ Soy sauce (if gluten intolerant)
+ Added sugars or artificial sweeteners (dextrose, maltose, sucralose, stevia, corn syrup, etc.)
This is always one of my top tips for basically anything as it relates to health as water is key to every single system and function within your brain and body.
Many times my clients tell me they feel consistently hungry, bloated or backed up, and have headaches, fatigue or low-energy, only to find out these issues go away once they start being more mindful about how much water they consume.
If you’re traveling make sure to pack a sustainable water bottle with you and fill it up frequently, ESPECIALLY if you’re flying (which is extremely dehydrating).
This is super key for me while traveling/eating out, as I know even if I do make optimal choices I still don’t truly know what goes into the cooking processes and ingredients like I do when I make a meal at home.
Adding in certain supplements helps protect my sensitive tummy from inflammatory substances and keep my digestion functioning optimally.
+ Activated Charcoal Pills – These bind to toxins and help you safely excrete them. A must for me after too much alcohol or any gluten exposure. They also really help with bloat.
+ Bitters/Digestive Enzymes – I take these 10 minutes before meals as the bitters help my stomach produce more acid to efficiently break down the food and absorb the nutrients. This keeps my digestion running smoothly, even if I’m eating things that tend to disrupt it.
+ Magnesium – magnesium has many forms and regulates more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. I like magnesium citrate or glycinate when traveling as they help with muscle cramping, sleep and peristalsis (aka going to the bathroom).
+ Chlorophyll Drops – an awesome option to have on hand if you’re not sure you’ll have veggie and leafy green options. Chlorophyll is a phytonutrient that gives leafy greens their deep green pigment, and consuming them helps to alkalize your blood and fight off inflammation-causing free radicals in your body.
+ Prebiotics + Probiotics — These guys help to balance the bacteria in your intestinal tract, which can get seriously out of whack when you travel due to exposure to contaminated water, parasites, pesticides, and other inflammatory foods.
Sleep is another huge but often overlooked factor when it comes to food choices, but it’s absolutely crucial in a variety of ways.
When you sleep less, your hormones get out of whack, causing you to produce more of your appetite-increasing hormone ghrelin and less of your appetite-suppressing hormone, leptin.
So not only are you physically more hungry than you would’ve been after a good night’s sleep, but you’re also inclined to have worse judgement and make less optimal decisions as it relates to food.
Obviously your sleep can take a hit when you travel, which is why I always…
Having a little emergency travel/on-the-go kit has saved myself (as well as my clients) on more than one occasion.
I encourage you to pack or carry with you items that help you feel YOUR personal best based on your unique needs, but here’s a few of my tried and true favorites to get you started:
+ Supplements (see list above)
+ Healthy emergency snacks (check this list out for ALL of my faves)
+ Portable water bottle
+ Eye mask, ear plugs, kava tea packets and lavender essential oil for optimal sleep
+ My kindle (to help me relax into sleep and prevent eating out of boredom :))
+ Cozy socks or compression (key for long flights)
+ Sneakers + workout gear for walking/running/hiking & exploring when an option
So there you have it, your complete guide to truly enjoying all of your travel and on the go experiences, while still feeling your best.
I hope you found this list helpful, and if you did I’d be so grateful if you share it with anyone you know who’s also constantly busy or on-the-go and could use the inspiration and support. Don’t hesitate to leave any other of your fave healthy tips below too!
Happy travels my love,
I’m honored to support you on your journey to optimal hormone health + happiness. Thanks for being here babe.