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Cooking Teacher

Healthy Travel

It’s that time of year. We hop in the car or head to the airport to enjoy some well-earned downtime to chill with friends and loved ones…a time to refresh our bodies, minds and souls so we can take on the adventures of life with serenity and grace.

We talked last about healthy road trips and the best ways I know to ensure your health and vitality when you’re driving around this great country of ours…or any other country.

But what about the trips where you’re jetting off to another locale with limited ability to prepare and travel with food? Are we doomed to airport fare? Plant-based or not, airport food can be a landmine of calories, sugar and fat that will get your trip off to a lousy start, in my opinion.

With ‘hurry up and wait’ as the airport mantra these days, you will often find yourself in some terminal in some city between travel. You’re bored, stuck and bored…so you eat.

And with so many airlines no longer offering food (if you can call it that…), you will find yourself hungry more often than ever, especially now with so many restrictions on what you can have with you as you travel.

So how does a health-conscious traveler negotiate the food offerings at airports across America?

Some airports are offering franchises with fresher and healthier food. You can find everything from salad and sushi bars to smoothie stands and full-on fresh food type restaurants. You just have to know what to choose.

I can tell you how we travel. For the day of a long journey, I don’t take any chances. I spend a couple of hours the day before our departure prepping our travel food which I pack in small, easy-to transport take-away containers which will fit in my carry-on. Some cooked whole grains, one or two proteins like a tofu stew and a bean salad, lots of veggies, cooked and raw and we have meals for long layovers.

I pack home-baked cookies for when my sweet tooth strikes and some nutrient-dense snacks like homemade energy bars to keep us going.

All we need when we stop in an airport restaurant is an espresso or a glass of wine or beer and we are good to go.

Packing food for long travel days makes the difference between a grueling day and a pleasant adventure. Sure, airlines have stolen all the joy from that adventure, but I am happy for it because it gives me yet more opportunities to stay proactive in my family’s wellness.

People love to snack when they travel. It’s as though it’s wired into our DNA. The only way to know for sure that you'll have snacks that suit your body and appetite is to bring your own. You know what you like and need. Just remember that if you like nuts, choose unsalted for your travel day as flight is dehydrating enough without the added burden of salted nuts.

If you can’t pack food for your travel (or do not care to do it…), then here are some tips for making the best choices given the landscape of an airport.

With consumers demanding better quality, there seems to be more healthy options…from the newstand to the burger joint.

If pizza is your thing, grab a slice with veggie toppings and forego the cheese. Pair it with a salad (dressing on the side) and a piece of fresh fruit and you will be satisfied and not bloated.

If you want a sandwich, always go for whole wheat or whole grain bread and skip the special sauces. Go for a grilled veggie sandwich instead of meat and skip the cheese. Or choose a veggie burger whether you’re a vegan or not. Again, pair it with a salad and some fruit and you have created a pretty healthy meal that is delicious.

Skip fried foods; sugary snacks and pastries, cookies and candy. Swap soda for water or coconut water to stay hydrated.

And go easy on the partying in the airport bar. Those calories and the bloating will not make for the most comfortable travel…not to mention, booze can contribute to air sickness and dehydration, resulting in a headache and exhaustion.

Finally, when you’re on a long layover, walk. Airports are huge and always interesting, so grab your rolling carry-on and use the layover time to get some exercise. You won’t feel as tired and cramped as you squeeze your body into the every smaller seats on airlines.

Going on holiday doesn’t mean leaving your commitment to healthy living at home. While it’s all free choice and everyone may do as they please without judgment, I can’t imagine choosing to feel bloated, tired and compromised simply because I am on holiday. I consider vacation a time to recharge and refresh, not a license to eat.

This is how we live our lives. We want to feel well and strong. For us that means traveling with meals and renting villas and homes with kitchens so that we can cook wherever we travel. I am happiest in the kitchen, whether that kitchen is mine…or one in Croatia, Spain, Italy, Israel or any other corner of the world where I may land. We surround ourselves with friends and family and all cook together making for the most joyful of holidays.

And if this all seems too much to consider, then travel with me! Head on over to christinacooks.com and click on travel for information on our healthy holidays. You enjoy your time away in glowing good health…and leave the cooking to us!

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