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How To Eat Healthy Foods When You Travel

Posted Feb 15 2011 6:35pm

Something I get asked quite often is how do I maintain my healthy diet, with the amount of travel I do, and let me tell you, it wasn’t always easy. As a flight attendant for both commercial and private airlines, living in hotels, on planes and out of suitcases for a majority of the year, you begin to learn tricks to keeping healthy and staying on track. So much so that it actually becomes quite fun and even becomes second nature after a while.

But it doesn’t have to be a chore either, there are some hints and/or tips you can employ, to stick to a high raw/vegan diet whilst on the road wherever in the world you are and here are just a few of them.

1. Invest in a travel blender

If you are going to be spending a great deal of time on the road, I would consider an investment in a travel/portable blender. Mine is a Tribest Personal Blender but there plenty others on the market (Magic Bullet/Bella Cucina etc).

You can use your travel blender to make ‘hotel room smoothies’ which is where you collect the fruit from your breakfast buffet and mix it with water and any other supplements you have packed with you when you head back to you hotel room. I usually have some form of green powder (spirulina/Vitamineral green) or a protein powder (hemp/Vega etc) to add. This served me really well on a holiday to Cuba where greens were just so hard to get, so for two weeks I had fruit smoothies with spirulina for breakfast and morning snacks. Also good for making nut milks and dips, or even grinding down seeds and nuts.

2. Ask your hotel for help

Don’t be afraid to ask hotel staff for plates/bowls/cutlery to make your own food in your hotel room. Avocados, lemons, tahini, bananas and lettuce are great quick snacks you can keep in your bar fridge to make up a wrap or salad dressing.

3. Pack in advance

Pack sandwich bags and a collapsable cooler bag in case you don’t have a fridge in your room. Sandwich bags can be filled with ice to keep food cold.

4. Travel on a raw friendly airline

If you are travelling by plane, some airlines now are offering a raw vegan option (I know Gulf and Singapore Airlines do for sure) however they are quite bland and do sometimes include non raw ingredients – but 10 points to them for trying! Try plan ahead and call them up to order your ‘special’ meal. ALL airlines offer vegan meals with some of them offering vegan asian meals – usually the tastier ones. But be warned, usually they serve white rice and white bread with these meals, and I don’t believe there is a place for this food in any diet. Which leads me to my next point.

5. Don’t rely on airline food!

Pack your own. Staples in my carry-on would be homemade energy bars like Banana & Spirulina Crackers , Macaroons & Raw Cookies . I also like to make my own trail mixes of soaked gojis, raw nuts, cacao nibs, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, raisins and other dried fruit. If you run out of time, prunes and packaged dried fruit are a great ‘grab on the run’ to take along with you (and they help keep you regular).

Apples, and capsicums (peppers), carrots and cucumbers travel really well, so why not pack a little travel pack of almond butter, hummus or guacamole to snack on through the flight. These can be easily picked up prepackaged. Herbal Teas, stevia and/or honey are my inflight drinks as well as using my Bobble to keep hydrated.

Just be sure you know the quarantine regulations of the country you are visiting. Ie Australia will make you hand in any fresh fruit & vegetable items you try to bring into the country.

6. Try not eating while flying

Contrary to belief, you really don’t need to eat much on your flights anyway, as your job is to remain seated for the period of the flight, well so the flight attendants think anyway ;) According to Harvard Medical School, they have claimed to have come up with a strategy to beat jet lag: don’t eat during the flight! I find this quite easy to do if I keep myself occupied with movies or sleeping, but let’s face it, we eat mainly on a plane out of pure boredom. So if you can fast, it might actually help you in the long run.

7. Do your research before you leave home

Google maps is a great way to find supermarkets or health food stores close to where you are staying. Happy Cow website and their iPhone app Veg Out are great resources for finding international restaurants and health food store locations before and during your travel. Check out blogs to connect with people who might be in your area of travel to get the lowdown on places to buy your own food or dine out. I have never been to New York but already know ALL the places I just have to dine out at because of the many blogs I frequent!!

8. Know what to expect in the country you’re visiting

In countries where English is their second language, understand that your diet may be extremely foreign to them. Ie China is a very difficult place to eat as a vegan (despite the book the China Study.) I think this is mainly down to communication. Try and learn a few of the local words for ‘allergic’, ‘intolerant’, ‘vegan’ or ‘vegetarian’ if those words exist in their language. Also expect you may need to pack plenty of your own snacks from home (larabars, trail mix etc), you may have to visit a supermarket on arrival, or you may have to just eat a load of wholefoods ie fruit! This is not a problem when I was travelling in Thailand. I could live off papaya, coconuts, watermelon and pineapple forever!!!

9. Be flexible

Remember that you are having an amazing travel experience and sometimes the food may not be what you want, or expect and you may not ever get back there again. In Paris I had to just have a croissant under the Eiffel tower, but for dinner I ensured that my fried garlic potato salad had NO bacon nor foie gras. Also take this an an opportunity to try new local fare. Thailand has amazing unusual fruit, china has some incredible herbs and tea, Italy has some delicious fresh salad ingredients etc.

10. Stock up on items if you’re staying for a long time

If staying for a period of time in a hotel, consider stocking up on items to make food in your room. Ie on month long trip in NZ last year, I had a chopping board, mixing bowls, knife, julienne peeler (makes noodles like a spiraliser) and nutmilk bag. I alternated between eating out (and checking out some fine vegan restaurants) and making my food in my room. I swear the room cleaners probably thought I was crazy but I ate really well that month!

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