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Navigating Nutrition While Traveling

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Navigating Nutrition While Traveling

Whether you travel 15 days a month for your career or 15 days a year for your vacation, maintaining healthy eating habits while you’re away is extremely important. One study found that during a one-to three-week vacation, adults gain an average of one pound during their travels and some gain as much as seven pounds!

While gaining one pound may not seem like a lot, the study also shows the weight gain persisted six weeks after the vacation. To help prevent unwanted weight gain during your travels, here are some easy tips to help you stay on track. 

Start with Breakfast

If you have an early flight or you’re staying in a hotel, eating breakfast is important. By starting your day with a healthy breakfast, you will fuel your body to carry you longer throughout the day and potentially stop you from filling up with junk food. Healthy breakfast options can include:

  • Whole-wheat bagels with nut butter
  • A cup of fresh fruit and eggs
  • Cereal snack mix and Greek yogurt 
  • Turkey slices wrapped in a whole-wheat tortilla 

Foods That Will Clear Airport Security

If you plan on bringing food onto the airplane, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) regulations. Remember, the final decision comes from TSA members at security. It’s helpful to pack your food items in clear baggies so TSA agents can easily see it. Great travel food options include:

  • Light string cheese
  • Whole-grain cereals and crackers
  • Creamy dips and spreads (including hummus and peanut butter) that are less than 3.4 oz.
  • Whole and dried fruits
  • Vegetables such as carrot sticks, celery, cucumbers and sliced peppers
  • Nuts
  • Nutrition bars 

Water and Hydration 

The best way to make sure you’re getting enough water is to buy a reusable water bottle and keep it filled at all times. Drinking liquids can help ensure you stay full, which can prevent overeating, reduce fatigue and keep your immune system strong. Empty the bottle before you go through security and, once you’re in the concourse, refill it. It’s recommended men drink 16 cups of fluid/day while women should consume 11 cups of fluid/day. 

Nutrition Tips For Business Travel 

  • Always pack healthy snacks! If you’re stuck in the airport during a layover or want a snack on the plane, keep items such as chopped fruits or vegetables, nutrition bars or trail mix as healthier (and less expensive) options.
  • Choose fresh fruit during meetings and conferences. You may consider bringing your own nutrition bar or trail mix. If all else fails, choose the whole-grain bagel with nut butter.
  • Drink coffee, unsweetened tea, water or sparkling water during meetings instead of high-calorie soft drinks. Limit alcoholic beverages. 
  • Ask for dressings, sauces and spreads on the side.
  • When dining out, select simply-prepared meals that include a lean protein and fresh vegetables. Request the protein and vegetables be prepared without any sauce or butter (i.e. “dry” grilled meat).  

Nutrition Tips for Vacation 

  • Walking is your secret weapon. Enjoy all the sightseeing you can while you’re in a new place. Take a walk after dinner with your family, play with your kids in the pool or go for a family hike. 
  • Limit your treats to once a day and opt for healthier choices the rest of the day. It’s understandable that you don’t want to miss out on ice cream with your family, so don’t!
  • When eating fast food, choose grilled over crispy items, get a fruit cup or salad instead of fries and skip the condiments or exchange it for less caloric options. 
  • Enjoy a variety of foods while you’re on vacation but remember, moderation is key. Sample the food instead of feasting on it! 


Article provided by Steffany Bixby, Oklahoma State University Dietetic Student, and Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services.