A food expert and frequent flyer shares how she eats healthily while traveling —and how you can too.
Balancing healthy eating habits while on the road can be tricky. From a scarcity of fresh fruit and vegetables to eating at unaccustomed hours, the food you consume while traveling can sometimes make you feel worse than before you set off. Enter Yasmin Khan, a cook, traveler, yogi, award-winning writer, and author of the best-selling cookbook The Saffron Tales: Recipes from the Persian Kitchen. Here, Khan shares her top tips for hungry travelers.
1. Eat light before your flight
Air travel can wreak havoc on your digestive system. If you eat lightly before flying, your body won’t be overloaded before take-off. If you can, avoid eating meat and dairy the day before travel and instead opt for vegetable soups or lightly spiced dahls with rice.
2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
Flying can be very dehydrating, which in turn can make you feel tired and sluggish. To stay hydrated, bring a large water bottle with you—you can empty it when going through security. Take advantage of water stations in the airports and ask flight attendants to refill it for you on board.
3. Avoid plane food
Plane food tends to be heavily processed, salty, and sugary, so eat at the airport if there are healthier food choices, or whip up a healthy (and delicious) D.I.Y airplane snack at home.
4. Eat when you land
Having a grounding meal when you arrive is one the best ways to beat jet lag. Eat some root vegetables—such as potatoes, carrots, and beets—and complex carbohydrates, such as rice or pasta, which will have a calming effect on your nervous system and help you sleep better after a long day of air travel.
5. Pack healthy snacks
Travel with a selection of protein and nutrient-dense foods such as nuts and energy bars, and stop at a grocery store when you arrive at your destination to stock up on firm fresh fruits that won’t get crushed in your bag such as apples or small, easy-to-peel citrus. Carry these with you on the road so you aren’t tempted to reach for junk food when you are hungry.
6. Take care of your tummy
Your digestive system can go haywire when traveling, so pack probiotic supplements and some peppermint and ginger teas to keep your gut happy.
7. Stay somewhere you can cook
Cooking for yourself makes such a difference when trying to eat heathily while traveling, so when possible, book a place to stay with a small kitchen and commit to eating at least one meal a day that you have prepared. Alternatively, pick a hotel room with a fridge to store your own snacks.
8. Go green
Getting your daily quota of veggies can be challenging when the places you visit don’t have a variety of vegetables on the menu. So bring along a powdered green supplement, such as Macro Greens, that you can buy in small packets and mix into water, smoothies, or oatmeal.
9. Treat yourself
If you’re going to have a calorie-indulgent meal or sweet treat, have it at lunchtime so you can walk it off after. Heavy meals consumed late at night can be hard to digest and also interfere with your sleep. In many European countries, such as Spain, Portugal, France, and Italy, lunch is often the main meal of the day—and it is also when you’ll get the best deals, as restaurants often serve prix fixe lunchtime specials.
10. Only eat when you’re hungry
It may sound simple, but this is a game changer. Many of us can’t distinguish hunger from restlessness or just feeling like it’s the time for eating, so we should. Only eat when you have genuine hunger pangs and your body will thank you. Additionally, don’t feel the need to finish everything you order. You don’t need to finish every plate— once you’re full, and take leftovers with you. Either eat it later or give it to the homeless, so it doesn’t go to waste.