Healthy Eating on Travel Days

I’m writing this from the dining room table in a friend’s house in Austin, Texas, and relishing being away from the last gasp of bitter Saskatchewan winter (but missing my family who stayed for work and school). Yesterday was a travel day, and I mean a DAY. The cab picked me up for the airport at 2:30 AM and I landed in Austin about 13 hours later. This is my third trip by plane since I started focusing on eating healthier. Eating healthy while on vacation can certainly be a challenge and I certainly don’t eat as healthy as I do when I’m at home, but I continue to use my MyFitnessPal app to keep me from going too far off my beaten path.

Travel days can be particularly challenging because of early morning flights, racing through or waiting for long stretches of time in airports, and the limited food choices that are available in those airports and on flights. So I plan ahead.

For my previous two trips I’ve stopped at the Starbucks in the Saskatoon airport, which is after security, and ordered the egg white and turkey bacon sandwich. It’s high in protein and only about 275 calories. I also get a steamed skim milk in my travel mug over my chai tea bag that I throw in before I leave the house (I don’t like the chai tea bags they use at Starbucks these days). This time, however, my wife made me an egg on an English muffin the night before my trip and stuck it in the refrigerator for me to grab in the morning. This is an even healthier option that I will gladly take again in the future.

Before I left the house I made myself a protein shake using the Vega powder I used, which not only starts me off with a healthy serving of protein that will keep me from being too snacky, but also gave me my first 500 ml (2 cups) of fluid for the day. I got my steamed milk at the airport (I wasn’t going to run our steamer at home at 2 o’clock in the morning) and filled my water bottle for the trip. I was there early enough that I finished that bottle of water before I even got on the plane. By the time I got on the plane I had consumed more than half my healthy fluid goal for the day.

Woman Drinking WaterStaying properly hydrated is key for me given my history with a kidney stone, but also because we often eat when we mistake thirst for hunger. Also, it’s important to drink enough water when flying because you are more prone to dehydration due to the low humidity in the air on a plane. While there are many choices of what to drink on a plane, I always choose water. Alcohol, tea, or coffee (which I can’t drink) may all make dehydration worse so you have to compensate for that by drinking more water. I used to get orange juice on flights thinking that the vitamin C would help protect me from all of the germs trapped in the cabin with me, but when I learned about just how much sugar is in juice, I switched to water. If you go for soda (or pop as it’s referred to in Canada) you get the sugar and the same dehydration factor that comes with coffee, etc.

While I normally don’t eat sandwiches for lunch because I try to avoid too many carbs during the day, Subway is a safe bet for a “healthier” lunch when in an airport. I may try getting my sandwich fixings as a salad on my way home this time and see how that goes. I know it would be healthier, but will it be filling enough to keep me from wanting to get something else later?

I also carry protein bars with me. I like the Simply Protein Bars because they have only 1 gram of sugar and 150 calories, but 15 grams of protein. I haven’t found a healthier alternative and they are handy to carry with me wherever I go. I brought about a dozen with me on this trip because I didn’t want to hall my protein powder with me. I doubt that I’ll have them all, but they are a good healthy snack. I had one on the last leg of my flight, which was a healthier alternative to any of the free snacks that airlines give out.

If you have any of your own healthy tricks and tips for travel days I would love to hear them, so please leave them in the comments section below.

Picture by Aqua Mechanical under a CC-BY License.

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