There’s no question that it’s not always easy to eat healthy when you travel.
Some people give up on healthy eating altogether, just reverting to old habits of junk food and forgetting that vegetables even exist. But there is a better way—a way that will both allow you to actually enjoy your travels while not straying too far from your health and fitness goals.
Recently, I left on a month long trip to Hong Kong and all over Thailand. I knew I wouldn’t eat perfectly the whole trip, because without consistent access to a fridge, health food stores, and healthy restaurants, the truth is is that it’s just not always possible.
Plus, part of the fun of traveling is trying all the new and local foods—some of which may not be considered perfect health foods, but are worth trying nonetheless.
I’ve written about what I eat in a day before, but thought it would be fun to share with you guys a typical day of eating from my most recent trip. I didn’t eat perfectly the whole time—but I enjoyed myself and overall felt pretty good about my food choices. And that’s what the 80/20 rule is for, right?
Here’s a snapshot of what I ate on a recent day while traveling:
Meal #1: Pre-Workout
Chocolate Cacao RxBar
I like to work out early in the day when I’m traveling since it’s the easiest way to make sure I don’t skip my workouts (the later in the day it gets, the lazier I seem to get). So that means I need to eat a little something right when I get up so I have enough energy to get through my workout.
Some people can work out on an empty stomach—I’m not one of them. Plus, there are loads of studies that show your performance will suffer when working out fasted (things like slow cardio and yoga are probably fine for most people though).
I like RxBars because they have very few ingredients but enough carbs and protein to get me through a tough workout (as long as I don’t wait to long to work out after eating one).
Meal #2: Post-Workout
1 scoop whey protein powder (I’ve been really liking Naked whey protein lately)
1 serving Athletic Greens
1 small banana
It’s important to eat something immediately after a tough workout, ideally a mixture of carbs and protein for optimum recovery. I always bring protein powder with me when I’m traveling (or buy some once I get there) as well as Athletic Greens to make sure I get in enough nutrients during the day. I also make sure to buy some fruit to have around, so this quick meal tends to be my go-to post workout meal whenever I’m traveling.
It isn’t fancy, but it does the trick!
Fiber: 2.5 g
Meal #3: Breakfast
3 egg omelette
Sourdough rye toast
I burn through that banana and protein powder pretty quickly so I’m pretty happy to get my first “real” meal of the day. This simple omelette, side of steamed spinach, and surprisingly delicious sourdough rye toast really hit the spot and actually kept me full until lunch (shocking, I know).
Meal #4: Lunch
1 cup red rice
Even though it can sometimes be a bit high in sugar, I love anything Teriyaki so I couldn’t pass up this red rice and veggie dish at lunch. Red rice is very common in Thailand and is similar to brown rice in terms of health benefits. I’ve become obsessed and am set on finding some when I get back home.
Meal #5: Snack
One fresh mango
Handful of nuts
Mangos are pretty much my favorite fruit ever so when I saw street venders selling pre-cut mangos everywhere I couldn’t pass them up. I devoured the mango and followed it u with a handful of nuts I’d bought earlier at a convenience store to round out the snack.
Meal #6: Dinner
1 cup red rice
Red curry with vegetables and fresh tofu
I’m a sucker for curry and have been eating it as much as possible. It can be high in fat because of the coconut milk, but it helps to fill me up and coconut has so many awesome health benefits I don’t mind. Plus, I love that the curries tend to have a lot of fresh veggies as opposed to many of the noodle dishes.
Not pictured: A Chang Thai beer, because hey, I’m in Thailand.
Meal #7: Post-Dinner Snack
Coconut ice cream
You guys know I have a huge sweet tooth and rarely skip dessert, so when I saw stands all over for coconut ice cream I had to give it a try.
I’ve had the store bought stuff in the U.S. before and it’s pretty good, but this was freshly made from a coconut with no added sugar and it was pretty much out of this world. Of course I had to top it with a little chocolate sauce and peanuts for that extra sundae effect!
As I mentioned before, my eating when traveling is not always quite as disciplined as when I’m at home and can control everything. As a vegetarian, I tend to eat lower protein and higher amounts of carbohydrates than I would normally eat since access to vegetarian sources of protein can be more difficult to find.
However, I was actually surprised when adding up the macros (all approximate counts of course—who wants to obsess about counting calories while traveling?) that they were as close to my usual breakdown of about 45/35/25 carbohydrates/fat/protein as they ended up being.
Overall I’m fairly happy with the amount of vegetables and fairly healthy options I’ve been able to get. And I’ve definitely enjoyed every bite 🙂
Total macros for the day (not including the beer):
10 thoughts on “A Snapshot of What I Eat When Traveling”
How do your macros listed above compare to what you would eat in a day when not travelling? I read your post from a couple of years ago, but I’m curious as to how that may or may not have altered. Have you always eaten 2000+ Calories daily, or was that something that you worked up to (with or without meaning to)?
I tend to eat around 2,300-2,600 calories daily, but I’m pretty active. I probably eat slightly more now than I did a few years ago 🙂
may have to double up on beer,would be exhausted with total prep but great variety,you would be great survivor for all the good reasons!!
Great list but how are you able to gril cauliflower and tofu and make curry or even store ice cream when you are traveling? I suppose this means traveling and staying in a house with a friend or something rather than usual travel in hotels and such where you don’t even have a fridge, much less a grill.That’s where I struggle the most with discipline.
Jason, I definitely didn’t grill any cauliflower or make any homemade ice cream – I ate almost every meal out (except for breakfast, where I’d get just a few small things at the store to have around). I just found good restaurants that had relatively healthy options.
Great insightful read. I would love to know your suggestions for travelling in the food desserts of the United States. I spend 300+ days a year in hotels in culturally and economically removed communities all over the U.S. that have extremely limited dietary selection from which to choose. (Think: back woods of Appalachia or isolated towns in the Bad Land of North Dakota.) I struggle to find an orange much less healthy, appealing meals. I would love to know if it is possible out here!
Oh man, I have to say that would definitely be tough. Probably your best bet would be to find a nearby grocery store and stock up on a few healthy items (like an orange). I did this in Vegas once – I walked 3 miles to the nearest Trader Joe’s and got some pre-made salads, fruit, veggies, and a few healthy snacks. It absolutely saved me when the only salad at the hotel I was staying at was iceberg lettuce drenched in ranch.
This was a fun read after travelling to Kansas City-one of the great beer and barbecue capitals of the US. My meals looked a lot different than these! As an attempt to balance the BBQ that I ate every lunch and dinner (and one really tasty breakfast), I ate carrots and fruit purchased at a local market and stored in a makeshift cooler at my hotel with the hotel ice to keep things cool. Sometimes I bring my soft sided cooler for longer trips or places where I won’t have access to healthy options.
Fruit and veggies are definitely a nice addition to all the BBQ! A small cooler is a good idea for road trips. String cheese, boiled eggs etc are really easy to bring when you have one of these!