It is well established that eating a variety of fruits and vegetables each day is important to support our health. This is in part because they offer us a plethora of benefits, including (but certainly not limited to) fibre, antioxidants, vitamins, & minerals. But it remains an unfortunate reality that fruit and veggie options are typically lacking when we’re traveling. So how can you still get them in like you normally do when in transit? Here’s six ways to make it happen on the road, on the water, or in the air!
Start Building That Intake Early
Start the day off in colour with fresh (or frozen) fruits and vegetables. If dining at a restaurant for your morning meal, we recommend asking the server for a fruit cup in place of fried hash brown potatoes, choosing a veggie loaded omelet, or going for a yogurt and fruit parfait. These common offerings will help rack-up your fibre (and protein in some cases) early as well, which will have far reaching benefits. The more fibre you eat at breakfast, the better blood sugar control you’ll have throughout the day, so load up!
Pack Them as Snacks
Along with your suitcases, you’ll want to pack some snacks. Whether it’s to tame those inevitable hunger pangs between meals, or to brace for unexpected road delays like excess traffic, packing emergency snacks helps you be prepared. Start the trip off right and bring some dried fruit and nuts or veggie chips (such as kale or beet chips) in your bag so you have a nourishing snack handy.
When buying dried fruit, look for packages that don’t contain added sugar (ie. Only have the fruit listed as an ingredient). As dried fruit can be quite calorie dense, it is important to do a little preplanning and portioning with this tasty eat. Remember that a standard portion size of dried fruit is: 2 tablespoons of dried cranberries or raisins, 5 dried apricots, 3 dried figs, and 2 dried dates.
If you’re up for a little culinary challenge, we encourage you to experiment with baking kale chips at home in your oven. But if buying this eat is in the cards, we recommend looking for as simple of an ingredients list as possible, and keeping a close eye on salt and trans fat content.
Rest Stop to the Rescue
Many gas stations now sell fresh fruit and/or veggie sticks and dip. Pick up an apple, orange, or banana for an easy snack on the road – pair the fruit with a piece of string cheese or small bag of nuts for an ideally balanced snack. Ensuring you include a protein and/or fat source with your fruit snack will ensure the nutritious eat sticks with you much longer than consuming fruit alone. You can also find hummus and baby carrot packs in many stores.
Be Creative at the Convenience Store
Yes: convenience stores do sell healthy food, too! Look for carrot and celery sticks, fresh fruit, fruit cups, and dried fruit (with no added sugar), milk, and nuts & seed packs. Just be sure to shop for these items first, making sure you have them in your hands before you come across the luring processed snack section. While highly processed snacks are generally not the best option, many fruit and nut based bars available now offer significant nutrition. But beware: these snack bars are generally calorie (and carbohydrate & fat) heavy weights, so are best if left to an occasional treat. If you are looking to purchase a wholesome bar for convenience sake, we encourage you to look for as simple an ingredients list as possible, and pair it with a fresh veggie side – such as carrot and celery sticks.
Fast Food Finds
If you find yourself in a lightly populated area, it is not uncommon for fast food to be one of your only options – but don’t panic! Most fast food chains now offer fruit and salads to order with your burger or sandwich. Meal salads containing bean and/or beef chili or tuna salad are also on the rise due largely to consumer demand. Order a tea or coffee with milk, or cold water to drink and you’ll be sitting pretty with this type of eatery.
When you’re at a restaurant for lunch or dinner, start with a salad or other non-deep fried vegetable option (such as veggies and dips, if available) as an appetizer. This will provide nutritious volume right off the bat, so you are not ravenous when your meal arrives. And while a veggie based entrées can be a good option, the dressings on salads can be loaded with calories, so order the dressing on the side to accurately gage the amount used. We encourage you to opt for a balsamic vinegar based dressing, and request extra lemon on the side to add your own flavour pop (as well as a little extra vitamin C).
Remember, the goal at each meal is to have half of your plate full of colorful food from fruits and vegetables. Though this may seem overwhelming to achieve while travelling, we encourage you to try your best by adding as much nutritious produce as possible to meals and snacks. When in transit, strive to load up on the colours of the rainbow whenever the opportunity arises.
Have an amazingly fun, nutritious, and delicious adventure!