How To Eat Healthy While Traveling

by lydia on December 15, 2015

How is it possible to stay on track when you’re traveling (e.g. for work)?  As always, staying as far away as possible from refined, processed foods, and as close to whole, nutrient dense foods is key.  A good rule to follow is to eat foods in their natural states (e.g. strawberries, not strawberry flavored Pop-Tarts; beef, not beef flavored chips – yes, they do exist).  And remember: if you are committed, staying on track under any circumstance is doable!  Planning accordingly is essential.

Tips For Healthy Eating at the Airport

Don’t count on there being any good options at the airport.  Your best bet as far as airport restaurant food would be a salad (with olive oil & vinegar – no dressing packs, as they often contain vegetable oils, gluten, processed milk, artificial flavorings and colors, chemicals, and other nasty stuff) with a piece of grilled or broiled protein (chicken, shrimp, fish, etc.) and quality fat (e.g. avocado, hard-boiled eggs, extra virgin olive oil, real butter – not a butter substitute like margarine). Best bet: Bring your own food (Refer to snacks/small meals on the go).

Potential Airport Kiosk Snacks That are ‘Okay’: How To Eat Healthy While Traveling //

  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Lara bars (paired with extra nut butter, eggs, avocado, or other fat or protein)
  • Raw nuts (try to stay away from nuts roasted in vegetable oil)
  • Fruit (paired with your own nut butter)

Bring Your Own Healthy Snacks or Small Meals on the Go

  • Hard-boiled eggs or deviled eggs (not as easily portable, but doable)
  • Lara bars, fruit and raw nuts (that have first been soaked, and then dehydrated), organic dry roasted nuts are okay too, just make sure that no oils or sugars are added!
  • Jerky , Salmon Jerky, Pemmican or jerky sticks, like Nick’s Sticks.
  • Single serving packets of nut butters (sold at grocery stores, like Wegman’s or Whole Foods) to dip raw veggies into or spread on fruit
  • Whole avocados
  • Coconut oil for quick energy (can also add to things like fruit or a Lara bar to slow the absorption of their sugar) – *Note: This would not be good for airplane travel unless it is solid.
  • Coconut flakes/shreds
  • Kale Chips (store-bought or homemade)
  • Grass-fed liverwurst or braunschweiger, or even bologna from US Wellness Meats. Or pick up some pate’ from your local farmer’s market to have on hand for when you are on the go (homemade is great too – Here’s an excellent recipe!). Use rice crackers, parmesan wedges or endive as a way to eat the pate or eat it plain with a fork.
  • Canned wild caught fish (e.g. sardines, oysters, baby clams) or tuna packed in olive oil.
  • Jarred olives or herbed cream cheese balls with an olive in the center.
  • A smoothie or shake in a travel mug or thermos. Make up a smoothie at home and chill in the fridge in a thermos until you are ready to go. Green smoothies with Nano Greens or NuMedica brand greens. *Note: Not appropriate for airplane travel
  • Thinly sliced meats or packaged lunch meats so long as they are high quality. Applegate Farms has grass-fed roast beef slices. Either have them rolled up plain, or with some pickles, raw cheese, guacamole or along with some raw cultured veggies.
  • Lox or smoked salmon, plain or in a lettuce wrap or with cream cheese or with some raw cultured veggies.
  • Pack a big meal containing meat and roasted veggies and put it into a lightweight Tupperware or Gladware container.  If you’re flying in the morning, eat ½ of that meal for breakfast, and ½ of it for lunch when you land (or dinner).
  • One last thing: STAY HYDRATED!

Tips For Healthy Eating While Staying in a Hotel

If possible, and if it works with your budget, try to stay at a Residence Inn Marriott.  They offer fully equipped kitchens and generally cost the same as normal hotel rooms.  If a Residence Inn is not possible, try to get a room with as much kitchen equipment as you can (e.g. mini refrigerator, stove) – anything that will help you have more control over what you’re cooking and eating.  Make a trip to a local grocery store on your first day and stock up on essentials.

Exercising Caution at the Hotel “Continental Breakfast” Buffet: How To Eat Healthy While Traveling //

  • Stick with proteins and fats, like whole eggs, avocados and whatever veggies they may have.   These are much better options than the muffins, French toast, and cereals.
  • Stay away from the OJ and other high sugar fruit juices.
  • Opt for drinking your coffee or tea black – do not consume coffee creamers!  Just LOOK at the ingredients of this popular brand (Coffee Mate).  It contains partially hydrogenated soybean oil, for goodness sake!:

Screen Shot 2013-04-27 at 11.57.28 AM

  • Avoid peanut butter packs, and use your own nut butter.  Here is a list of ingredients from Jif, a popular peanut butter brand, that also uses hydrogenated oils.  Such a shame!

Screen Shot 2013-04-27 at 12.02.38 PM

  • We advise against the oatmeal at the hotel breakfast bar, especially if you are avoiding gluten, as it is more than likely cross-contaminated with it.

Local Dining/Restaurant Tips

How To Eat Healthy While Traveling // Your best best when dining out is to find restaurants that focus on a menu that is suitable for your personal needs. For example, look for Farm-To-Table restaurants or upscale higher end restaurants that will likely source the best quality of foods. High quality ethnic restaurants are usually a good bet to eat at. Stick to meat dishes,  either pan seared or grilled with all veggie sides. Salads and chicken are often corn-contaminated, believe it or not,  so if you are intolerant to corn, then you’ll want to steer clear of salads and chicken. A local Farm-To-Table, however, may have fresh local greens that are okay. If you are concerned, just ask the staff.

Look for restaurants that are very well-versed on gluten issues and work hard to offer a gluten-free menu; however, if they serve gluten in the same kitchen and you have celiac disease, you should avoid the restaurant.  Try to find the menu item with the most fat or ask for some clarified butter, and always ask for a little dish of sea salt (or bring your own). Having a small amount of organic red wine when you go out to eat could be helpful for your digestion and help you to relax, so long as you tolerate wine.  If you don’t plan on having wine, try to find a herbal tea with digestive-friendly things in it, such as mint, ginger, herbs etc….or bring your own tea bag. Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions or call before you go out, and even say you have a lot of food intolerances that can make you sick. Then your waiter/waitress will take you much more seriously and so will the chef (after all they don’t want to get sued). Good high-end restaurants will be more careful.

Consider creating a little zipper pouch that you can take some of your own condiments in any time you go out to eat. Things like, your own little container of sea salt, small container of salad dressing or olive oil, pouches of gluten-free soy sauce, tea bags, as well as some digestive enzymes in a little pill pouch, or a small tupperware with raw apple cider vinegar, and even some hydrochloric acid. If you are concerned about possible cross-contamination issues take a little container of baking soda – 1 tsp. in several ounces of water after your meal could help to prevent upset from contaminated foods. You can also include in your zipper pouch some small snacks like beef jerky sticks, a little container of coconut oil with a touch of raw honey and Justins or Artisanas nut butter packs, which is helpful in those cases where you are out too long and need to prevent getting low blood sugar, or you are somewhere and there just isn’t anything you can eat. Being prepared certainly does not hurt, and it could simply become a matter of routine and a way of life.

General Tips For Eating Out:

  • At most establishments, you can order simple meats, fish and veggies.  Just make sure that they are not breaded or deep-fried. Cooked veggies are better than salads if you are corn intolerant.
  • Skip the sauces, as they often have hidden gluten, soy, dairy and other questionable ingredients. Or, ask your server to ask the chef how the sauce is made exactly since many upscale gourmet restaurants will make high quality items that you may be able to enjoy.
  • The biggest challenge to eating out or eating away from home is the kind of fats that are in the food. The thing to watch out for in restaurants is what they are cooking, frying and sautéing with. It undoubtedly will be processed vegetable oil unless you ask them to cook in butter. If you feel comfortable, you can always bring your own jar of coconut oil to add to steamed veggies, or ask if they use real butter (NOT a butter substitute like margarine – yuck!). Or bring your own raw cream for your coffee, or even your own butter. If you are planning in advance and going somewhere local, this can be quite doable.
  • Check out the restaurant’s menu online ahead of time to make sure that there is something you can have.  Remember, planning ahead is the way to go. Also, don’t hesitate to call and ask to speak with the chef. Call in the mid-late afternoon during the least busy time to ensure you are able to get the chef on the phone and not in a rush.

Better Bets When Eating Out:

  • Mexican cuisine - Mexican has great spices that really enhance the flavor of the dishes.  Skip the burritos and other gluten containing entrees, and try avoiding the beans as well.  Add satiating fats like guacamole to your meal to make it extra satisfying and delicious.
  • Thai cuisine - Thai is another great option.  The food is super yummy and very flavorful.  You can get curries and other coconut milk-based soups.
  • Steakhouse / Seafood - Since meat is the main event at these restaurants, it’s easy to just add a salad or whatever veggie on the side. Ask for butter or plop your own coconut oil on top, or if ordering a salad, go for olive oil & vinegar as the dressing.
  • Sushi - Sushi is a great option, especially if you tolerate rice.  You can always opt for sashimi if you don’t.  Just avoid the soy sauce, as it contains gluten.  (Or bring your own gluten free soy sauce packets, like I do!)
  • Diners - Diners are pretty easy because you can order just about anything.  Poached eggs with salsa, avocados and bacon on the side works well.  Again, the oils won’t be ideal, but do what you can.
  • Chipotles - They are not perfect (e.g. almost everything, except their carnitas, are cooked in refined soybean oil), but they are better than a lot of other options (McDonald’s, Wendy’s, etc.).  Definitely add guacamole if it works with your budget.

 Drinking While Traveling

How To Eat Healthy While Traveling // Water – Keep in mind that you will need to ensure that you are drinking quality filtered water as you travel.  Your best bet is to carry your own water filter with you if you can. The Berkey Sport Water Bottle is a good option as it has it’s own filter right inside the bottle and is connected to the straw you drink out of. This way, you can fill your water bottle up from any source and it will be filtered as you drink.

Other Beverages  – If you know where you will be traveling and what stores will be available to you ahead of time, it will help determine your plan of action when it comes to choosing beverages. For the most part, stick to water, herbal teas without sugar, kombucha, sparkling mineral water and red wine in moderation. Beer and mixed drinks can be okay -1 glass per meal. Many restaurants now serve gluten-free beers. Coffee can be okay; however, don’t expect to get quality cream or milk to put in it. Try bringing your own coconut cream or going without the dairy.


While traveling away from home you may find it helpful to take certain supplements to essentially ‘protect’ your gut. Here are my top recommendations:

  1. Hydrochloric Acid – Either Hydrozyme (low dose) or Betaine (the big guns) are great to have whenever you eat out or travel. I keep a little baggie in my purse at all times and I have both types. The higher dose is good for heavy protein meals, like a steak, and the low dose is good for smaller, lighter meals or snacks. Remember, stomach acid is your first line of defense against pathogens. Also, often times we are in ‘sympathetic’ mode while we travel and may not be producing adequate HCl to begin with. This preventative measure can save you a lot of potential problems. Remember to take half way through a meal or at the end, not at the beginning.
  2. ProbioticsPrescript Assist is shelf stable and travels well (do not start on probiotics for the first time though while traveling). Also, Custom Probiotics assures that their probiotics maintain viability outside of refrigeration for a short time, such as 2 weeks. Probiotics will help protect your gut from things that come up when you travel and help your digestion continue to work optimally as well as elimination. Take with you when you are away from home for several days or more. Another low dose option that is a bit more affordable and contains more pepsin in it,  is KAL Betaine HCl.
  3. Enzymes – another helpful item to keep your digestion running smoothly and in case of cross contamination issues. I like to take enzymes AND also make sure the food I order has enzymes in it too, if possible, if I trust the fresh vegetable source. Red wine is also helpful for me I find – it’s fermented and can aid digestion. A small glass can be very helpful. In my little baggie, I also keep enzymes. I try to check my supply before I go out to eat each time so I don’t run out. You can buy travel pill containers at any drug store, as well as pill baggies for just a few bucks.
  4. Gluten-Flam – If you are gluten-sensitive or have celiacs this product is a must-have for your purse or to keep in your car. It is a digestive aid designed not only to provide powerful gluten digestive enzymes, but also to support intestinal health during gluten exposure, using specially targeted bioflavonoids. If you are eating out and not sure about gluten cross-contamination or at someone’s house and they may have cooked something you are eating in gluten contaminated pans etc….this will help protect your gut from that exposure.
  5. Magnesium– To keep your bowels moving and avoid constipation. For more information on this, read my post: How To Relive Constipation With This Laxative Mineral.
  6. Beets in some form for liver/gallbladder support – To help avoid constipation, read more about the benefit of beets HERE as well. Optimally for traveling, you’d want something like Beta-TCP or Beta Food, or even some Beet Kvass (homemade or try Zukay brand as a store-bought option). Or just eat some fresh grated beets with a drizzle of olive oil, lemon and sea salt.
  7. Vibrant Blue OilsParasympathetic Blend and Digest Blend. You will find a handy little PDF for both of those on how to use them. The parasympathetic oil is great for travel because we almost always are in sympathetic mode, and in order to digest, we need to be in parasympathetic mode.
  8. Flower Essences or Stress Tinctures – Remember stress affects our ability to properly digest and often travel is quite stressful. I personally will not go anywhere without these two items: Feel5ive, one of Dr. Bach’s original flower essence formulas (find it here) and a stress tincture my herbalist makes me. You can find an herbalist near you have them create a stress formulation unique to you, or you can find plenty of options at the health food store for stress/adrenal formulas. I take my stress tincture to help me sleep and the flower essence throughout the day to help keep me balanced/grounded, and it really works!

Additional Resources

Eat Wild – This site has a directory of over 1300 pastured based farms across the US and Canada. This site could help you source local meats while you are staying in other areas.

Local Harvest – Use this website to find farmer’s markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area, where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies.

American Farm To Table – A compilation of the USA’s best restaurants that are committed to local farms and farmer’s markets.

*Disclaimer: This blog post may contain Amazon and other affiliate links and should you purchase through them will not affect your price and all proceeds go towards the cost of maintaining this website. Thank you!


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{ 1 comment }

Charles Kemp May 2, 2016 at 6:15 pm

It can be really hard to eat healthy when you are traveling. Often times vacations and trips are riddled with unhealthy food. I think it would be smart to have a plan to avoid having problems while you are traveling. It may help you learn more self-control as well so that you don’t have to worry about caving again.

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