• Health and Wellness

    How To Eat Healthy On Vacation Without Fearing Your Food

    healthy eating while traveling

    Traveling is such an exciting opportunity to see the world. Whether you’re traveling in a car, RV, train, or plane, there’s something special about packing up and getting out of town. That same feeling of excitement can turn to panic when you’re striving for healthier lifestyle goals, yet others traveling with you aren’t quite on the same page. Don’t let the fear of food failure impose on the fun of your trip. In this blog post, we’ll start by planning our packing list, adjusting the types of Go-To foods we reach for, brainstorming a meal plan, and anticipating different contexts of eating that can get in the way of our health goals. If you stick with these tips, you’ll be able to preserve the enjoyment of your trip with others while  staying on track of your health goals. You may even inspire others around you to do the same!


    Start Thinking About Food Planning

    You dedicate plenty of time toward planning your trip: booking your transportation, lining up lodging, arranging a travel itinerary and organizing a budget. But how much time are you dedicating to food planning? Is your attitude; “I’ll just go with the flow and ‘cross that bridge when I get there’” If so, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Trust me. There’s nothing more dangerous than starved for breakfast and being surrounded by glazed coffee cake, bagels, and muffins as your only healthy options. Been there. Didn’t want to do that.


    When we travel or attend special occasions, it is VERY tempting to excuse ourselves from maintaining our healthy lifestyles. Have you ever heard yourself -or others around you- say:

    • “Just this once!”
    • “You’re never going to have this experience ever again in your life”
    • “Stop being such a buzzkill. Just have a BITE.”
    • “But you’re my guest. I insist.”


    Maybe you’ve even been guilty of taunting others with these same remarks… (gulp). Don’t panic. We’ll address eating healthy around heavy social pressure in an upcoming blog post. For now, let’s dive into approaching traveling with a controlled and prepared mindset.


    Build A Shopping List

    Take away the unpredictability of traveling by building a shopping list before you go. I love the travel pages from the Pull It Together Planner because it allows me to consolidate important check-lists so I start my journeys well organized!

    Pull It Together Planner


    When traveling, bring as many non-perishable food items as you can. If you enjoy cooking or baking, I enjoy making my own Paleo knock-offs of LaraBars or RxBars to save some cash. Other great ideas are pre-made egg muffins for those early morning flights. Check out some of my other favorite recipes at the Facebook Group.


    Here are some of my Go-To items that fall under the gluten/dairy/sugar-free umbrella. They’re clean, lean, and easily transportable.

    If you have access to coolers or refrigeration at your destination, here are some perishable items that are helpful to pick up at a local grocery store when you arrive (or bulk stores like Costco/ Sam’s club for the win!):

    • (Organic) guacamole cups
    • Fresh vegetables
    • Fresh fruit
    • A bag of lettuce
    • Eggs (to hard boil)
    • (Organic) sliced deli meat
    • Salsa / mustard / salad dressing (minimally processed)
    • Kombucha / seltzer


    Cut The Sugar

    When we eliminate added sugar and build in extra protein and healthy fats into our diets, we allow our body to better regulate our sugar levels throughout the day. What does this look like when you’re on vacation?

    When your energy levels are cruising at a steady state, you’re less likely to respond to highly processed/ sweetened drinks or snacks that have a huge potential to sabotage your best intentions at staying healthy on the road.

    healthy eating while traveling

    Prior to leading a Paleo lifestyle, this was the vicious cycle my vacations typically took:

    1. Double chocolate chip muffin for breakfast? Heck yes! I’m on vacation
    2. Two hours later… groggy, low energy, and need a boost
    3. Let’s caffeinate with a Starbucks grande mocha!
    4. Two hours later… lazy, low energy, and now guilty that I haven’t worked out to burn off my morning splurge
    5. Convince myself that I’m on vacation and can take a break from the gym. I’m already off the bandwagon. Why not indulge in afternoon nachos and margaritas by the pool?
    6. Hunger pangs have literally been non-existent all day
    7. Slightly dreading the thought of more food, alcohol, and dessert with the approaching night ahead
    8. Go to sleep and wake up feeling tired, full, and defeated
    9. So much for my health goals…attempt to convince myself that I’ll spring right back into my gym / healthy eating routine after my vacation is over


    These were the main things I didn’t like about this cycle:

    1. My diet revolved around sugar. I was refueling my sugar dips with even MORE sugar to boost
    2. My hormones (hunger signals, mood, energy, self-control, motivation, self-care and self-love) were all out of whack
    3. And more importantly…

    …my vacation carried an undertone of defeat, disappointment, and guilt all because of my lack of authority over my food choices!


    What fun is vacation when you’re beating yourself up over your food choices the whole time? By building a shopping list, preparing food ahead of time, and buying healthy options once you arrive, you will be right on track toward sustaining a healthy mindset, maintaining a balanced (low sugar) diet, and sustaining your health goals… all while ENJOYING your actual vacation!

    Establish A Meal Plan

    I recently returned from a 7-day RV trip through the Northwestern part of the country while in the home stretch of my third Whole30 program (ie: no sugar, gluten, or dairy for 30 days). With only one portable cooler and gas stove, inconsistent access to local grocery stores, and co- travelers I knew would be indulging in doritos, kettle corn, and wine/beer, I knew I needed a strong approach toward meal planning before I boarded the RV. As a result, I dedicated the week before our trip toward food planning and healthy meal preparation.


    The planning paid off! During the trip, I stuck to my prepared foods and pre-built shopping list when we came across a local grocery store/ gas station. My sugar levels were rock stable, my cravings were tame, and my attention redirected from “food-fear” toward the surrounding wildlife and adventure the vacation surprised me with!


    Here’s an example meal plan that saved my life during this trip:


    • Black coffee with 2 scoops of collagen peptides (70 cal, 18g protein)
    • 2 eggs with veggies / guacamole / cut up deli meat
    • Side fresh fruit


    • Salad with hard boiled eggs
      • Topped with a guacamole cup
    • Minimally processed salad dressing
    • Nuts


    • 4-6oz meat with vegetables added to the rest of your plate
    • Half an avocado
    • Side of fresh fruit
    • Kombucha / seltzer (instead of alcohol) served in a wine glass or champagne flute

    Snack Ideas (choose 1 or 2 depending on activity level)

    • Meat sticks
    • Carrots with almond butter
    • Larabar/ RX bar (if homemade- add collagen peptides to batter)
    • Hard boiled eggs with salsa
    • Rolled deli slices in guacamole
    • Handful of nuts


    I found it extremely helpful to always have an emergency protein snack handy in my bag or purse in case of unexpected hunger pangs while hiking / sight-seeing. The easiest and most-portable options were snack-sized nuts and vacuum sealed meat sticks (don’t forget the mints!).

    No Fridge, No Problem!

    You may be thinking; “Well that’s great and all if I had a rental car, access to a cooler, or am local to a grocery store. But what if I don’t?”

    Great question! Consider these scenarios:



    Most hotels and are sometimes located walking distance to gas stations (see below) or at least have mini-fridges. You can usually get away with meals at the hotel restaurant or with room service as a back-up plan. If your hotel has a breakfast buffet option, I recommend sticking with the most natural / holistic foods you can find: eggs, potatoes, bacon/ meat and fresh fruit.

    Approach the hotel breakfast buffet with a detective eye. Look at each food item and ask yourself; “Is this a hidden sugar bomb? Could I re-create this entrée myself with less than 5 natural ingredients?”

    Consider these typical hotel buffet breakfast food items:

    1. Pancake / waffle bar, pastries, bread, muffins etc.

      1. Is this a hidden sugar bomb?
        1. Yes. Unfortunately, these types of foods do not provide healthy fats or protein. Their foundational content is sugar, and even more sugar when topped it with syrup, powdered sugar, whipped cream, or jelly.
      2. Could I re-create this entrée myself with less than 5 natural ingredients?
        1. No. Unless you have a way to process grains into beautifully concocted white fluffy flour and then bleach and enrich it with added vitamins and nutrients… I think it’s safe to say that these would be challenging to reproduce ourselves naturally with only a few simple ingredients (assuming you aren’t buying a box full of pre-made pancake and waffle mix…)
      3. Healthier alternative
        1. If you’re craving a sugar fix, grab some fresh fruit. Not only will you get natural sugar, but it will be buffered by fiber so you won’t have as dramatic of a sugar spike and plummet after consuming it.
    2. Cereal

      1. Is this a hidden sugar bomb?
        1. Yes. Cereal is essentially grains and sugar. Grains are carbohydrates which break down into simple sugar in our body. When we add milk, we are adding >12g of sugar (per serving – 8 oz). Sugar content adds up quickly in cereal.
      2. Could I re-create this entrée myself with less than 5 natural ingredients?
        1. No. See above.
      3. Healthier alternative
        1. See above. If you’re craving fat / protein (from the addition of milk), look for some meat / egg options. Try to find some meat that isn’t deep fried or heavily processed (I’m looking at you, sausage). Ham +/- bacon are great alternatives.
    3. Bacon

      1. Is this a hidden sugar bomb?
        1. No. Well, technically yes-most store bought bacon has added sugar, but for the most part, it is a small amount and is balanced with natural fat and protein. I say, go for it!
      2. Could I re-create this entrée myself with less than 5 natural ingredients?
        1. Yes. Bacon is typically minimally processed and is relatively close to being in its most natural / purest state.
      3. Healthier alternative
        1. Go for it!
    4. Orange juice

      1. Is this a hidden sugar bomb?
        1. Yes
      2. Could I re-create this entrée myself with less than 5 natural ingredients?
        1. Yes. You absolutely could make orange juice by juicing! But consider the context of the orange juice you’re getting at a hotel breakfast buffet. If it’s coming out of a machine, the likelihood that it’s “freshly squeezed” is probably unrealistic. Rather, this is likely processed with lots of added sugar.
      3. Healthier alternative
        1. Why not grab a fresh orange all by itself for the juice kick you’re craving? You’ll get the added bonus of fiber that naturally comes with the fruit.
    5. Ketchup

      1. Is this a hidden sugar bomb?
        1. Yes. This is a big one! One packet of ketchup has 5g of sugar! And let’s be honest here… How many packets/ pumps of ketchup are we dumping over our eggs / potatoes?
      2. Could I re-create this entrée myself with less than 5 natural ingredients?
        1. Yes. You absolutely could create ketchup yourself! Unfortunately, the ketchup packets we normally are given in hotels / restaurants are highly processed with high fructose corn syrup and other added ingredients.
      3. Healthier alternative
        1. Try replacing ketchup with salsa, salsa verde, or guacamole.

    healthy on vacation

    Gas Stations:

    You may be surprised what gas stations have to offer for produce! Pick up a few pieces of fresh fruit (usually they supply apples and bananas) and check out the snack aisle. This may be tricky because we’re in the danger zone of lots of tempting (ie: highly processed / sugar + salt loaded) snacks. You may find jerky, meat sticks, or protein bars in this aisle. Be very cautious of protein bars. Most protein bars have > 10 ingredients with a TON of sugar or artificial sweeteners (erythritol, sucralose, stevia, etc). If you’re able to find RXBars or Larabars, these are typically a safer bet because the ingredient list is simple, recognizable, and with natural sugar from usually figs or dates. If you don’t have any luck finding these, consider a bag of unsweetened nuts instead.


    When it comes to going out (or ordering in with room service), you have a lot more flexibility and control of your healthy food decisions. If you don’t see an entrée that jumps out at you as being clean and in alignment with your health goals (ie: filled with lean protein, lots of vegetables, and healthy fats), you have an opportunity to get creative!


    Here are some examples to trouble-shoot tough restaurant menus:

    • Ask to not be served the bread basket right off the bat
    • Opt for sparkling water with fresh lemon, lime, or orange slices instead of alcohol
    • Appetizers – look for fresh options such as ceviche, veggies with hummus (ask for double vegetables and hold the pita), shrimp cocktail, or spring rolls (not the fried kind!)
    • Burgers / sandwiches – hold the bun. Substitute French fries for a side salad / fresh fruit / roasted vegetables or potatoes
    • Salads – hold the croutons (+/- cheese). Try dressing your salad in oil and vinegar. If you’re not quite ready for that, keep the dressing on the side and dip your fork into the dressing with each bite. You’d be surprised at how satisfied you feel with your meal and how many excess calories you’ve saved by using the fork-dip method!
    • Soups – choose clearer broth soups to avoid a lot of added sugar / fat / salt from cream-based options. If it comes in a bread-bowl, either skip the entrée, or request it in a regular bowl instead.
    • Seafood – choose non-battered/ fried options. Rather than the fish and chips, consider ordering white fish, trout, or scallops (if you prefer lighter seafood) with a side of seasoned vegetables. Look for steam, broiled, or roasted vegetables rather than vegetables coated in melted cheese or butter
    • Desserts – fresh fruit. I challenge you to really evaluate your hunger levels at this stage. Are you really hungry? Or are you simply looking for more of an emotional outlet to nourish a need for comfort? If it is the latter, order a warm cup of coffee/ tea / espresso (decaf as needed) instead.


    Road Trips

    Long drives can be a potential hazard to your health goals. Boredom and emotional eating are common when you’re trying to kill long hours of pavement time. If you’re able to bring a cooler or two for the road, grab some ice and make a pit-stop at a nearby grocery store. Make your life easier by buying pre-cut fresh vegetables and fruit. If you can, search for single-servings of produce paired with healthy fats (ie: apple slices with almond or peanut butter, or vegetables with hummus). You’ll not only take away the preparation headache, but you’ll ensure you’re maintaining portion control when you’re bored and looking for a snack.


    Another great option is to pick up some sliced deli meat. Try to find options that don’t contain sulfites, nitrites, or added sugar (although the latter is most challenging to find). For drinks, water and seltzer are typically healthier options over soda and juice. My favorite seltzer brand is Spindrift because the ingredients are recognizable and the taste is great! No mysterious “natural flavors” on the ingredient list. I also really enjoy Kombucha if you are open to fermented beverages. My favorite brand is Triology:


    If you’re still bored and hunting for a snack- even though you’re not hungry- try journaling or opening a book. Investigate which emotional need you need to fulfill, and search for a non-food substitute to stay satisfied.

    When it comes to traveling, take the fear out of food and eating by being prepared! Build a shopping list, prepare and bring as many food items as you can, and be on the hunt for ways to meal prep and refrigerate your food once you arrive. When you’re out to eat, don’t be shy! Get creative with the menu to stay on track with your health goals. By doing as much mental and physical prep work ahead of your travel departure, you’ll alleviate potential “food-fear” on vacation so you can spend less time stressing over your food options, and more time actually enjoying your time and company on vacation!

    Grab some healthy recipes from the Facebook group!

    Download the Pull It Together Planner to stay organized before your trip

    Subscribe to THH email list and get my FREE guide to end over eating: here



    Health & Wellness

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