With the sweltering heat upon us and the kids out of school, many people are heading for cooler climes this summer. Whether you are taking to the road or sky, travelling poses unique challenges to maintaining healthy eating habits. It may be the long time between meals or not having your usual meal items available, but a little vigilance goes a long way.
Anticipating challenges is your best line of defence against unhealthy food choices when you're on the move. Before you leave home, take time to plan what you will eat on route. Pack a few snack items in your luggage in case the options are limited. Having a healthy and filling snack in your bag can be useful for taking the edge off your hunger and preventing impulsive decisions when you finally sit down for a meal. If you're travelling by car, pack a cooler with fresh fruit, vegetables, hummus, yogurt or labneh, reduced-fat cheese and whole-grain crackers. If you're flying, take unsalted roasted nuts, a high-fibre energy bar or a piece of fruit. Opt for food that doesn't require any preparation, such as peeling or refrigeration, as that can get messy when you're in close quarters in transit. Measure your snacks into individual containers to keep portion sizes in check.
If you're travelling by plane, consider requesting a special meal when you book your ticket to cut extra calories and saturated fat. Most major airlines, including Emirates and Etihad Airways, have a variety of meals available to customers including low cholesterol, low sodium and high fibre.
It's important to stay well hydrated in the summer heat. This is especially true if you are flying, since the cabin environment can be extremely dry. The healthiest choice is plain old water. Avoid soda and energy drinks, which are loaded with added sugar. Caffeine may help ward off jet lag but enjoy it in moderation as it can cause you to lose extra fluids, leading to dehydration. At the airport, buy a large bottle of water once you're through security to take on the plane. Drinking adequate fluids can prevent you from feeling lethargic and drowsy - a must when travelling across time zones, or staying alert at the wheel.
Eating away from home means you have to make a lot more food choices than usual. Don't let the stress of travelling cause you to let your guard down. Whether you're at a magazine stand, fast food restaurant, deli or roadside restaurant, aim for the healthiest option possible. That may mean roasted nuts instead of potato chips, herbal tea instead of soda, or a wrap and side salad instead of a burger with fries.
Travelling can wreak havoc on your digestive system. If you're prone to motion sickness, stock up on foods that naturally calm your stomach, such as ginger and mint, and that aren't too spicy or hot. Bananas, rice, toast, apples and crackers are good choices. Avoid greasy and fried foods, which are loaded with calories and can leave you feeling gassy and bloated.
When you're not sitting, make an effort to move around. Go for a brisk walk around the terminal or stretch when you stop for fuel. * Michelle Gelok