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The holiday season is a time of joy, being together, and indulgence. It’s a time to reconnect with family and friends, exchange gifts, and, of course, enjoy delicious food. However, for many, traveling home for the holidays can also mean navigating a minefield of unhealthy eating options. Fast food restaurants, sugary snacks, and overindulgence can quickly derail your health and fitness goals. But don’t worry! After setting some healthy habits in place, and with a bit of planning and mindful choices, it is possible to eat healthy while traveling home for the holidays and still enjoy the festive spirit.

Plan Ahead

Planning ahead is key in maintaining your healthy diet while traveling. Before taking that trip or planning that outing, take a moment to consider your options and make a plan that aligns with your dietary goals.

  • Pack Healthy Snacks: Bring along a selection of healthy snacks like nuts, trail mixes and protein bars. These easy-to-grab snacks can keep you satisfied and curb your temptation for unhealthy fast food during a long car ride or flight.
  • Stay Hydrated: It is very easy to mistake dehydration for hunger. Bring a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated throughout your journey. Water will also help you feel full and prevent careless snacking.
  • Research Dining Options: If you’re traveling by car or train, research your route and find restaurants or cafes that offer healthier menu options. Many places nowadays have nutritious choices for health-conscious travelers.
  • Prepare Meals: If your travel plans allow, think about preparing some meals in advance. Homemade sandwiches, salads, or wraps are excellent choices. This way, you have full control over the ingredients and portion sizes.

Mindful Eating

Staying mindful of what you eat is an important part of maintaining a healthy diet while traveling. It’s easy to give in to cravings or mindlessly munch on unhealthy snacks when you’re on the road, but these habits can lead to regrets and discomfort later.

  • Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to your body’s hunger cues. Eat when your body is feeling hungry, and stop when it is satisfied. Avoid eating just out of boredom or stress.
  • Savor Your Food: Take your time to enjoy your meals. Eating slowly allows your body to cue when it’s full, reducing the risk of overeating.
  • Choose Wisely: When dining out, make thoughtful menu selections. Opt for grilled or steamed dishes instead of fried or heavily sauced options. Choose lean proteins, whole grains, and plenty of vegetables.
  • Portion Control: Many restaurants serve larger than needed portions. Consider sharing dishes with a travel companion or ask for a takeout container to save half of your meal for later.

Healthy Eating on the Road

Eating healthy while traveling can be particularly challenging, especially if you’re limited to fast-food options at rest stops or in airports. However, with some changes, you can still make nutritious choices.

  • Salads and Wraps: Most fast-food chains offer salads and wraps with grilled chicken or other lean proteins. Opt for vinaigrette dressings and avoid toppings like bacon and croutons.
  • Customize Your Orders: Don’t be afraid to customize your orders to make them healthier. Ask for no mayo, an alternative protein, extra veggies, or whole-grain buns.
  • Avoid Sugary Drinks: Soft drinks and sugary beverages can quickly add empty calories to your meal. Choose water, unsweetened tea, or other low-calorie options.
  • Snack Smart: If you’re looking for snacks, choose options like fruit cups, yogurt, or unsalted nuts over chips, pastries and candy.

Staying Active

While traveling home for the holidays usually involves long hours of sitting, there are ways to stay active, stretch out and burn off some of those extra calories.

  • Stretch and Move: Take short breaks during your drive or ride to stretch your legs and walk around. If you’re flying, try doing in-seat exercises to keep your blood flowing.
  • Travel-Friendly Workouts: If you have the space in your suitcase or carry on, consider bringing resistance bands or a jump rope for a quick workout in your hotel room.
  • Explore on Foot: If you have free time during your trip, explore the area on foot. Walking is a great way to burn calories and discover new places.

Overcoming Temptations

Let’s remember that holiday gatherings and family dinners can be challenging when it comes to maintaining a healthy diet. Here are some tips to help you to make it through these situations successfully:

  • Communicate Your Goals: Tell your family and friends about your dietary preferences and goals. They will likely be supportive and may even make accommodations or different options for you.
  • Practice Moderation: While it’s okay to indulge in your favorite holiday treats, keep portion sizes in mind. A small piece of pie or a single serving of your favorite dish can satisfy your cravings without going overboard.
  • Fill Up on Veggies: At gatherings, load up your plate with vegetables and lean proteins before indulging in higher-calorie items. This will fill you up quickly and can help control your overall calorie intake.
  • Stay Active Together: Suggest activities that involve physical movement, such as going for a walk with the whole family or playing outdoor games. This can be a fun way to bond while staying active.

Eating healthy while traveling home for the holidays is very possible with some planning and mindful choices. Remember to pack healthy snacks, stay hydrated, research dining options, and prepare meals when possible. Practice mindful eating, make good menu selections, and remember to watch portion sizes.

Customizing  your order and avoiding sugar-filled drinks are healthier when fast-food options are your only choice for food stops. Staying active, even during long journeys, and communicating your dietary goals with your loved ones can help you successfully navigate the temptations of holiday gatherings.

With our 6 week challenge here at Embody Fitness  in full swing leading up to the new year, you will have the opportunity to form and test your new healthy habits! Ask yourself “Who do I want to be?” and “How do I want to feel going into the holiday season?”, and start to think about what new and practical habits can help you achieve this new you. Click the link below to join our email list and we’ll provide you with the tools to start identifying and implementing some new habits and optimizing your healthy lifestyle starting this Monday November 20th!

Ultimately, the holidays should be a time of joy and celebration, so don’t forget to savor the moments and focus on the meaningful connections with your loved ones, while still maintaining your commitment to a healthy lifestyle.

CLICK HERE to join our healthy habit challenge starting November 20th 2023!

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