You can eat healthy over the holidays, even on the road

By Ana Altares 

It’s that time of year! Holidays are here, filling our calendars with feasts and festivities with our family and friends. Can you see the spread now? Perfectly Vegetable Kabobcooked turkey, mom’s famous cornbread stuffing, and of course the freshly baked apple pie. But before we can enjoy the party, we have to get to the party. Holiday travel can be stressful. Food is not usually on the travel packing list so the option is to rely on what is convenient on-the-go, which can drain our energy and wallets. 

We’ve all been victims of the overpriced meal at airports and hotels that leave our wallets thin and our taste buds unsatisfied. And drive-through meals and gas station pitstops leave us feeling fatigued. It’s time to take matters into our own hands this holiday season! By spending a little extra time before travel, you can prepare nutritious snacks and meals that will give you healthy energy for your journey. Not only will you feel better, but you can spend less time stressfully searching for food and waiting in long lines.  Added bonus: any opportunity to save money this time of the year is helpful!  

Run Run Rudolph!

Just because we’re off our normal routine doesn’t mean we can’t squeeze in time to move! Physical activity can boost energy, relieve stress and serve as quality time with friends and family. Too busy? Even 10 minutes of movement can be beneficial. 

• Get your morning stretch on to increase blood flow and start your day off right.

• Fill a morning or afternoon with a walk to explore a new area.

• Plan a family hiking get together.

• Hit the hotel gym for a sweat session or swim laps.

• No gym? Try some body weight exercises such as plank holds or air squats in your room.

Holiday Health Hacks

For the Flight:

1. Grab-and-go: Apples, bananas, oranges, crackers, pretzels, butter-free popcorn, granola bars, fruit leather or dried fruit, dry cereal, single-serving peanut butter packets, rice cakes.

*Tip: Use a hard container to prevent smashed snacks

2.   Trail mix: DIY with nuts, seeds, dried fruits, banana chips, whole grain cereal, dark chocolate or whatever else you have on hand.

3.   For longer travel, pack a sandwich, wrap or salad.

*Tip: Small lunchboxes will keep things cool. Just be mindful of liquids. Bring an empty ziplock bag to fill up with ice at a café past security. 

4.   Bring an empty water bottle to fill up past security. 

For the Road:

1. Pack a cooler! This allows you to bring more prepared food: Yogurt, cheese sticks, tuna packs with crackers, fruit salad, hummus and veggie sticks, veggie burritos, hard-boiled eggs, baby carrots, pre-made smoothies

2. Like it hot? Fill a thermos with hearty soup to warm you up.

*Tip: Use caution sipping while car is in motion!

3. Need a pick-me-up? Choose fruit, tea or plain coffee instead of an energy drink or sugary latte.

*Tip: Chai tea or coffee brewed with cinnamon can help satisfy that sweet craving

For the Hotel:

1.  Head to the nearby grocery store to pick up some healthy snacks. Skip the drive-thru with these options: unsweetened instant oatmeal, unsweetened applesauce, trail mix, tuna or salmon packs, clementines, whole grain crackers

2.   Stock up the fridge with easy items to keep you on track: fruit tray, vegetable tray, plain yogurt, hummus, guacamole cups, cheese sticks, baby carrots

3. Offer to bring a healthful dish to dinner: warm winter salad with root vegetables, leafy greens & grains, vegetable-based soup, homemade unsweetened apple sauce, baked pears

Ana Alteres is completing her master’s in food science and nutrition in the College of Health and Human Sciences.