Eating on the road can get complicated, especially if you’re on a long vacation with your family. You may want to make healthy eating choices, but nutrient-dense foods aren’t always available at airports or along highways.
Depending on where you’re traveling and the amount of time you spend on the road, you may find yourself making dietary choices that aren’t great for the performance of your body or mind.
Those unhealthy food choices can lead to some negative side effects that make your time away from home a lot less productive and enjoyable. If you want to stay in prime condition while spending time away from home, we have some simple tips for eating healthy that can help.
Why Does Nutrition Matter When You’re on the Road?
The food you choose to eat has a direct impact on every process happening inside your body. It also has an impact on your emotions, mood, and mental clarity. Research has shown that ultra-processed foods like donuts and soda are a potential cause of anxiety and depression.
Studies have also proven a close relationship between bacteria in the gut and the brain. When nutrient-dense foods are consumed, healthy bacterial colonization is encouraged, and you’re more likely to experience a clear mind with a greater ability to focus and process incoming information. When you consume unhealthy foods, you’re likely to experience less mental clarity due at least partially to changes in your gut.
The foods you eat can also impact your physical energy. If you consume something that doesn’t sit well in your stomach, then you could end up with an upset stomach or food-borne illness that makes travel difficult.
Tips for Fueling Your Body for Optimal Performance on the Road
Whether you’re driving, flying, or riding a bus or train, you need mental clarity and physical energy. You also need to feel your best without stomach upset and other gastrointestinal symptoms.
Perhaps you’ve already had the experience of suffering diarrhea, nausea, or extreme stomach cramps while traveling. It’s unpleasant, and that’s why the following tips on fueling your body for success on the road are so essential.
Pack Healthy Snacks
You should always have a stash of healthy snacks when away from home. That may involve slipping a few granola or protein bars in your briefcase or keeping a small bag of nutritional snacks in your luggage for the hotel room. You may even choose your hotel based on the availability of room service, a nearby restaurant or store, and other options for quick, healthy snacks.
If you’re on a road trip, keep snacks in the car. That includes a few easy-to-eat snacks that are kept within easy reach of the driver at all times. When your stomach starts to growl, or you feel your energy heading downhill, you can give yourself a nutritious pick-up without hitting a convenience store or truck stop.
Stake Out the Truck Stops
Many truck stops and large gas stations are starting to offer healthy choices alongside candy bars and potato chips. You may find fresh fruit, pre-made sandwiches, and small packs of peanuts and dried fruits. Some even offer salads and some healthier hot food selections.
If you’re in a pinch and need something to eat, choose a truck stop over smaller gas stations if possible. You may even find grocery stores a short distance off your route, and that is always preferable to a small gas station with the standard unhealthy snack options.
Balance Nutrients When Possible
Your body needs healthy carbohydrates for fast energy and plenty of protein to stabilize your blood sugar while traveling. Throw in some healthy fats, and you have a great diet that increases physical and mental energy while on the road.
You can keep this balance by choosing these foods while traveling:
- Whole grains
- Healthy fats
- Plant protein or lean animal protein
Try to avoid sugary treats because they’re likely to lead to a dramatic energy crash later. That may happen at the most inconvenient time.
Stick to Regular Mealtimes
When do you normally eat at home? Try as much as possible to stick to a similar meal schedule while on the road. It’s not always possible, but you’re less likely to experience extreme hunger and throw off your internal balance if you can keep somewhat the same schedule.
If that isn’t possible, opt for small, frequent meals and snacks spaced evenly throughout the day. That will help regulate your blood sugar and keep your body from thinking that you’re in a state of deprivation or starvation.
Team Up with an Expert
Our last nutrition tip for the road is to work with a nutritionist to optimize your nutrition at home and while away. You can now work with nutritionists and dietitians virtually, which allows you to attend meetings and update your personalized plan from anywhere. They have expertise in all aspects of nutrition and can help you create a plan to stay healthy wherever you may wander.
Nutrition experts can also serve as coaches. They may help you stay motivated and on-plan even when it’s so tempting to grab a burger before a last-minute meeting or splurge on something with zero nutritional value at the airport. While there is a place for the occasional treat, you don’t want to make those unhealthy choices the norm when you’re on the road.
Get Expert Nutrition Advice Based on Your Personal Needs
Working with a nutritionist or dietitian is the key to receiving personalized nutrition advice. The trick is to select a nutritionist or dietitian based on their expertise and personality because they aren’t all the same. You want to work with an expert who has specialized training in or experience with health conditions and fitness goals similar to your own.
For instance, there are dietitians with specialized knowledge in diabetes management, cancer nutrition, and autoimmune disease remission. There are many nutritionists who specialize in weight loss, muscle gain, long-distance running, and many other health and fitness goals.
When you select a qualified nutritionist or dietitian, you can ensure that the personalized plan you receive aligns with your fitness goals and any known medical conditions that may benefit from a healthy diet.