Can you eat well while travelling?

Travelling is a time for people to have fun, relax, let their hair down and catch up with friends or family. However, for many people, holidays and travel can also cause food and health anxiety as we step outside our normal routine. Many people ask the question – how to eat well while travelling? Is it possible to be healthy and still have fun?

Having just come back from Spain (I went there for Easter and surprised my mum and others in my family who were holidaying there) it got me thinking about my travel and eating habits. I am someone who loves to travel, especially overseas, and trying new foods and eating patterns of the country I go to (this meant having dinner at 11pm in Spain – yikes). And a question I get asked a lot is do I put on weight while travelling? I may sometimes put on a very small amount as I step out of my routine, however not to the extreme where my clothes are too tight or cant be worn.  And if I do put on a small amount, it usually goes once I get back to my regular eating habits back home.

While on holidays, many people follow the ‘all or nothing’ way of thinking, “well I’m on holidays I will eat what I like and think about the consequences when I get back”. Now yes, when exploring new (or familiar) places on holidays, trying new and loved food comes as part of the package; however many people go so overboard they can come back a couple of kilograms (or even more) heavier. Now you may be thinking what’s a few kilograms… but a few kilograms can make a big difference to your health, especially as many people don’t actually lose those kilograms when coming back from holidays. After a couple of years those couple of kilograms can be an extra 10-20 kilograms of weight.

So how do you find that balance? Between enjoying yourself, trying delicious foods, while not packing on the kilograms? Here are some of the strategies that I use while travelling:

  • Stay active! Just because I am overseas, doesn’t mean I top exercising or being active. I still go for a small run or to the hotel gym each morning (not as long as I normally would but I still go most mornings). I also walk most places e.g. instead of a taxi, can I walk where I want to go; instead of the hop on hop off bus can I do a walking tour etc?

    Mel's favourite 'homemade hotel dinner' while travelling!
    Last week in London, UK, Mel raided the local Waitrose to come up with dinner in her hotel (plate and knife from room service) !
  • Utilise the local supermarket or food markets: you don’t always have to eat at cafés and restaurants. For a lighter breakfast buy some fruit and yogurt and keep in your hotel room for a lighter breakfast or lunch! There are many other healthier and tasty options you can find in the supermarket- you may be surprised at what you find!
  • Reduce the ‘extras’ you have by minimizing any ‘impulse’ purchases e.g. if I have already had an ice cream that day then I don’t also buy a chocolate bar at the checkout of the local supermarket as well.
  • Choose one ‘unhealthy’ food/ meal per day; my husband and I really enjoy a nice dinner and so usually choose this meal to be our ‘anything meal’. We then keep breakfast and lunch fairly healthy and similar to what we would have at home.
  • Keep wanting to take care of your body and nourish it: remember that just because you are on holidays doesn’t mean you have to have unhealthy foods to enjoy yourself. There are many delicious foods that are good for you and you can enjoy yourself trying a whole range of foods.
  • Watch portion sizes! When on holidays it can be common to eat out at nearly every meal, ad with eating out usually comes larger portions sizes. Just like at home, portion sizes in many countries are growing! I usually keep a few things in mind if I am eating out often to help keep portion sizes in check:
    • I don’t feel I have to finish everything on my plate
    • I don’t choose to ‘upsize’ any dishes
    • I try and avoid multiple course meals. If a starter/entrée or dessert looks good, then sometimes my husband and I will share one and then have Choose 2 courses instead of 3 if having more than one course
  • Watch out for the breakfast buffet! Buffets just tempt people to eat more and in many cases people can go back for seconds (and even thirds) which can mean breakfast can be 2-3 times bigger than what it is at home. If my husband and I have breakfast from the hotel buffet we will usually have a slightly bigger breakfast (full or fibre and protein – not just white bread and pastries), but then have a very light lunch (we might share a sandwich or something), and then have our dinner. That way we are not taking in more energy than we normally have over the course of the day.

If you are interested in some of Nutted Out Nutrition’s dietitians’ adventures while travelling you can follow us on Instagram.

Or if you have a trip coming up and you would like some personalised advice on travelling and eating well then book in an appointment with one of our dietitians. Remember we have three convenient locations; Melbourne CBD, Clayton and Caulfield (right next to the train station)!

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