Inevitably, from time to time, you are traveling. Maybe it’s for work and maybe not, but either way, you have goals and you’re wondering how to keep your eye on the prize, on the road.
First, you do not have to stick with the portion fix plan when you are traveling, if you don’t want to. Second, even if you do choose to stick with it, you probably won’t be able to do so perfectly and you may even decide to install some extra cheats into your plan. That’s all fine. So before you go trying to stick with the plan, have a little chat with yourself about two key points:
- When you cheat, don’t go so overboard that you make yourself sick. Stop yourself mid-gorge and check in on whether your sides are bursting or you’ve just had so much that you’re going to wake up dehydrated and bloated tomorrow morning.
- After you cheated, don’t mess around with any of that ‘guilt’ nonsense. Let it go immediately and move on. Taking care of your health has nothing to do with being a good person, so if your conscience is stepping in here, your conscience is out of line. Go home, conscience. Go back to making sure we don’t stab people who cut us off in traffic.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, moving on.
Do your research
Step one: if you are not straying too far off the beaten path, you can probably find your destination on Google maps. Do that. Hit “search nearby” and click “restaurants.” Start clicking on links and looking at menus. If that’s too overwhelming, skip this step and move onto:
Step two: go to Yelp. Look up any combination of the words “vegan,” “vegetarian,” and “healthy” in your destination city. Start clicking on links and looking at menus.
Step three: just google “best [vegan/vegetarian] restaurants in [destination].” There will be lists. Start clicking.
If you’re lucky, you may find the kind of lunch place that has affordable, customizable food: choose our own protein, pick the base, pick the sauce and toppings, etc. The kind of place that has bowls/wraps/salads. That kind of place is perfect to keep in mind as a fall-back as you explore other restaurants.
Make a list of restaurants and keep it on your phone.
Make your packing list
I have a list of foods for traveling, by container, for when I have to go to conferences for work. I bring my work lunch bag as a carry on and pack food for the trip. You can bring food as long as it’s not liquid or gels! Then I just find a grocery store and buy this stuff, all stuff that doesn’t require a kitchen or preparation of any kind. Just to have in case I can’t find what I need at restaurants.
- Celery/carrot/bell pepper sticks (a lot of stores have them prepared)
- Grape tomatoes
- Baby cucumbers
- Baby bell peppers
- Raw broccoli florets (some places sell bags of them)
- Baby carrots
(Note: stay away from berries, they tend to disintegrate into mush quickly when they’re not refrigerated.)
- Tofurky baked chik’n
- Tofurky deli slices
- Baked tofu (trader joe’s has a good one, or bake your own at home–baked tempeh works great, too.)
(I like to pack extra Tofurky for the plane because some stores don’t have any of this stuff.)
- Rolled oats (literally just need to add water)
- Pine nuts
- Cocoa nibs (teaspoons aren’t usually an issue because I can assume there’s oil in anything I get at a restaurant, but if I know I’ll end up just eating my own food, I pack a ziplock baggy with some cocoa nibs and a teaspoon measure.)
- I like to pack myself a couple of herbal tea bags or a little baggy of instant decaf coffee crystals, so I’ll be able to have a nice hot drink after dinner. This can also help to settle the tummy and quiet the appetite after a carb-and-fat spree.
- If you’re being very strict, you can pack cup measures or your color-coded containers. If not, you can always just eyeball your portions.
- An empty water bottle. Water! Water’s great!
- Workout clothes and shoes. Because you’re going to work out, right? If you’re not staying at a hotel that has a gym or if you just hate gyms, Shaun T has you covered with a gazillion no-equipment workouts, and there’s always Core de Force.
Find out what insane nonsense the TSA is up to these days
You can take that entire packing list up top, and put it all in an insulated lunch bag as a carry-on for your flight. None of it is liquids, so it’s all allowed, as of when I’m writing this. But the TSA has all kinds of ever-changing crazy rules, so do yourself a favor and check their website to see what nonsense security theater they are up to these days to try and justify their own existence. Worst case scenario? Check your bag, and you’ll see your snacks again as soon as you get there.
One more bit of research
How serious are you about staying on plan? Because even if your trip is only for a few days, those snacks you packed are probably mostly gone by the time you head home, and there are few things as conducive to making bad food choices as air travel. Everything tastes bland on an airplane, and that just makes you want to eat more. Combine that with the fact that you’re bored out of your mind, and the options available to you are not exactly the healthiest… well, it’s a good idea to bring your own snacks.
So when you’re done researching restaurants in your destination, you have one more thing to find: a grocery store. A lot of tourist destinations and business convention areas are grocery deserts, but you don’t need a fully stocked supermarket; any little bodega or mini mart will do, as long as they have some of the stuff on the packing list above.
Okay, that’s it: you decided what your goals are for the trip, you gave yourself a little pep talk about not going overboard and about moving on when you cheat (and you will, and that’s perfectly fine), you did your research and planning, and you’ve packed your snacks. Now go have fun. Safe travels.
pictured: travel snack packs, celery sticks with homemade baba ganoush.