4 tips to help your family eat healthy while on vacation this summer

Traveling can be overwhelming if you feel shame around needing to eat "healthy" or have hangry children asking for food.

Traveling can be overwhelming if you feel shame around needing to eat "healthy" or have hangry children asking for food. (Shutterstock)

SALT LAKE CITY — School is finally out and with COVID-19 travel restrictions being eased across the country, many are looking to start traveling again.

It's always exciting to see new places and try the local cuisine while traveling, but it can be overwhelming if you feel shame around needing to eat "healthy" or have hangry children asking for food.

Here are four tips to help you leave the food shame at home and prevent your kids — or yourself — from dealing with hanger while traveling.

Bring healthy snacks

Whether you're taking a road trip or flying somewhere, snacks are important — especially if traveling with young children.

When preparing for your trip, try to bring a variety of snacks. Candy and chips are always a fun treat on a trip, but they aren't the most filling and can lead to meltdowns and added stress since people aren't being well nourished. Remember to try and include snacks from all of the five food groups.

Once you have arrived at your destination, it's a good idea to purchase more snacks at a local grocery store to have on hand during your vacation to prevent anyone from getting hangry. Here's a list of snack ideas that can be good for your next vacation:

  • Apples and peanut butter. You can pre-cut apples and soak them in lemon water to help prevent them from browning. You can also buy the on-the-go peanut butter cups to make things less messy.
  • Vegetables with ranch. Vegetables like cherry tomatoes, carrots and celery are great for traveling because they don't need to be kept cold like other vegetables. There's also on-the-go ranch, which is safe at room temperature until opened.
  • Fruit cups. There's a wide variety of fruit in ready-to-go fruit cups which are great for travel. Try to select fruit cups that are packaged in water or 100% fruit juice.
  • Applesauce pouches. These are great for traveling with little kids since no spoons are required. There's a wide variety to choose from, and some even have vegetables mixed in.
  • Dried fruit. Raisins, craisins, mangos and apricots are all great options for traveling.
  • Beef jerky. This is a great way to get protein while on the go. It is easy to carry and shelf-stable so you don't need to worry about it spoiling while out on adventures.
  • Nuts/trail mix. Nuts and trail mix provide protein as well as healthy fats and are an easy way to get energy while out and about.
  • Whole-grain bagel or rolls. Whole grains will help you feel full longer and are a great way to keep everyone happy on a long day or while out exploring new places.
  • String cheese. This one will need some form of cooler to prevent it from going bad but it's another way to get protein in during snack times.

Eat out and stay in

Eating out while on vacation is something I always look forward to. It's fun to try new restaurants and bakeries. However, it can become expensive and a little unhealthy if you eat out for every meal while on vacation. Remember, balance is key to a healthy diet.

Make a plan beforehand to determine which meals during your vacation you'll eat out for. My family usually eats out once or twice each day during our vacations. This allows us to save money but still experience the local cuisine.

Try to stay at a hotel that has a minifridge so you can stock up on sandwich ingredients, easy breakfast meals and snacks.

Remember balance

Although I've provided a list of healthy snacks to take while traveling, it's important to remember a healthy diet needs to be balanced. Bring a fun candy for the kids to eat in the car or provide some chips to snack on. The important thing is to provide a variety of healthy and fun snacks while traveling.

Remember not to shame yourself or feel guilty for enjoying an ice cream cone on the beach or for trying a yummy dessert at a local bakery. All foods can fit into a balanced, healthy diet.

Incorporate movement

Try to find fun ways to incorporate movement into your vacation. This can mean walks on the beach at sunset or walking down the streets of the town to window shop. You can also rent bikes or kayaks if you're by the water to incorporate movement while still exploring the area.

There are many ways to incorporate movement into a vacation that don't require you to get up early and hit the hotel gym if you don't want to.

These tips will hopefully help you enjoy your next vacation a little more since you won't have to be so stressed about being "healthy" all the time or having hangry children.

About the Author: Danielle Billat

Danielle Billat is a local registered dietitian, nutritionist and mother. To read more of her articles, visit Danielle's KSL.com author page.

Editor's Note: Anything in this article is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended, nor should it be interpreted, to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition; Any opinions, statements, services, offers, or other information or content expressed or made available are those of the respective author(s) or distributor(s) and not of KSL. KSL does not endorse nor is it responsible for the accuracy or reliability of any opinion, information, or statement made in this article. KSL expressly disclaims all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on the content of this article.

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