When I go out to eat, which is at least twice a week, I don't often think about how healthy I'm eating, but when I cook at home, my meals are almost always balanced and nutritious. Unfortunately, when I travel, I have to put a little thought into my choices, otherwise I won't be able to fit into my pants by mid-trip. So, I tend to make my own breakfasts and snacks and then make sure that I have fruits and/or veggies represented in most of my meals. Amazingly, it’s not hard to work fruits and vegetables into your travel diet. Think of it as your mission each day. Make it fun. Try new foods in order to get them incorporated into your meals. So, how to do it on a budget? Believe it or not, it’s pretty easy.
Farmers’ Markets are where it’s at! I love an open-air market, whether it showcases antiques, handmade goods, vintage clothing, food or all of the above. Markets that sell food are fantastic, because they have super fresh, local produce. Usually you can try new foods at fantastic prices and not even realize how much goodness you’ve eaten. When in Hawaii, we stopped at a roadside fruit stand and picked up a big bag of fabulous new fruits, like dragon fruit, apple bananas, papaya and coconut. Not like I’ve never had papaya or coconut, but I never buy it at the store and just cut it up and eat it. But seriously, dragon fruit? How can you pass up trying that? And yes, I said apple banana. It’s a banana that kinda tastes like an apple. Intriguing!
Now, I look for farmers markets to visit on my trips before I leave home and it's on the list right after going to the grocery store. In Virginia Beach, we picked up some homemade bread, apple pears (pears that look like apples) as well as some pantry items that we mailed home.
Eat local. Local is almost always cheaper. If traveling in a foreign country, look for restaurant signs written in the local language (assuming you aren’t in an English-speaking country). If you can’t find something like that, just go a bit off the main path and look for the busy dining establishments. If it’s packed, you know it’s delicious!
Go shopping. Always have a stash of fresh items on hand. The first thing I do when I arrive at my destination is scope out the nearest grocery store. I also bring my own reusable shopping bags(s), because they are so useful for things besides food. We stock up on diet soda, bottled water and fast and easy foods that can be eaten in the room or on the go, like granola bars, bananas, apples and whatever local snack I’ve never seen before and must try, or treats I’ve had before, but usually can’t find at home. Jaffa Cakes anyone?
Order an appetizer. Want something not so great for you? Order it as an appetizer or two and then split a healthier entrée with a travel companion. You can do it the opposite, too. If you find something totally divine on the menu, then order a salad to start or something chock-full of veggies, like a crudité plate, stuffed mushrooms or similar. Now, I know stuffed mushrooms aren’t the best for you, but they are mushrooms! Get creative, but don’t try to justify how potato skins are actually a vegetable. As wonderful as they are, you might as well just eat a deep fried stick of butter.
Look for vegetarian restaurants. Even if you aren’t a vegetarian, it doesn’t mean you won’t find anything to your liking, plus all veggies! I am a fan of many a vegetarian dish. In fact, I sometimes buy vegetarian meats at home, like the awesome products from Quorn. I love, love, love their cranberry and goat cheese chik’n cutlet. So yum! Also, have you ever tried a soy ham and cheese sandwich? You can’t even tell it’s not ham. If they can make h’am taste like ham, then I think they make almost any vegetable taste awesome.
Hopefully, these tips will help you eat better and feel better when you make it back home. Eating healthfully on vacation can give you the motivation to continue to do so once you get home. In fact, by the time I get home, I'm usually ready to eat some real food that I made myself.