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  • Writer's pictureKathy Ozakovic

Travel Guide To Nutrition - How to Prioritise Your Diet When Traveling

Be it Perth to visit the family, Sydney for a music festival, up or down the East Coast for whatever excuse I can make, I love to travel! If you live overseas, best bet I’ll be visiting you. So, how do I maintain my health and wellness standards when traveling? In this blog I share my top tips. I am aware some of them will sound impractical to you. Take what is applicable, this is an opportunity for you to think outside the box and be prepared to the best of your ability for your next trip.

It can be easy to lift your hands up and say 'oh, its too hard to stay healthy when traveling' or we can take responsibility and do the best we can with what we have! Think ahead to give yourself the chance of the best possible outcome. In fact, nutrition and staying on track of health goals during travel is a topic I discuss with all my clients at some point! When your health is a priority, you will almost always find a way. An 'all or nothing' mentality isn’t helpful in anything we do, including when it comes to how we eat when travelling.⁠


something my mum has drilled into me. You never know if the car/bus will break down or the plane will be delayed!

Don't get me wrong, there is a time for everything! When in Rome... Do enjoy the culture and food is a big part of that. Eating out of character can help you get motivated when you get back! Think 80/20 approach. However, I encourage my clients to question their values and align themselves to this. Personally, I have strong nutrition values (no surprise) and prefer to stay healthy to feel my best! I will enjoy a meal out occasionally. ⁠When I travel, I look for the foods that make me feel my best, and more often than not I will cook at home. Keeping my food familiar is a way of enjoying the uncertainty of being in a new environment.


⁠Nutrition whilst traveling becomes particularly important during extended and frequent travels. Extended travels may be for leisure and frequent travels may be for work. ⁠Below are some suggestions to help you.


When it comes to packing, I am all left brain. Systematic, judgmental and logical. I don’t recall a time I have overpacked. In fact, I recall under packing at the age of 10 for a class excursion and needing to borrow socks and undies from a friend. Now the only thing I overpack is socks and undies.


I divide my packing into: suitcase with outfits (gym, casual, shoes – I actually decide upon and pack clothes in outfit clusters), backpack with electronics and books (including my journal and favorite pens), kitchen necessities (including food, supplements and my favorite spoon). The kitchen necessities will often be in woollies bags. What I bring will depend on whether I am traveling by car or plane.


Traveling by plane

Earlier this year, I was so impressed when traveling to Perth that the airport security guy acknowledged my rose quartz crystal (rather than asking why I had a rock in my bag).


When I travel by plane, I will still bring my favorite spoon. My favorite spoons have travelled Europe with me. However, I reduce my supplements to the absolute bare necessities that I want to stay consistent with and what will be most beneficial to me whilst I am away. Tupperware can come in handy to pack these. Otherwise, you can also pack some socks and undies in Tupperware to save space. I use tupperware for snacks and meal prep.


My travel supplement essentials are (yours will be unique to you!):

  • Vitamin D – mood enhancer, energy production (personally my VitD dips often, likely poor absorption)

  • Omega 3s – helps absorb vitamin D, blood thinner, anti-inflammatory

  • Berberine – maintain insulin sensitivity whilst changing time zones and interrupting sleep patterns

  • Probiotics – particularly for IBS and regularity as bowel habits may be disrupted

  • Digestive Enzymes – because usual eating pattern may be disrupted

  • Magnesium and NeuroCalm Sleep – natural sleep aids

  • If I am traveling for intensive study, I will bring Magnesium Theonate, Gotu Kola, L-Theanine, Alpha GPC – all for cognitive enhancement

You can read up about these and more supplements in my previous blog here.


Traveling by car

There is more flexibility when you are hitting the road. I usually bring my favorite spoon, breakfast bowl, chicken scissors I use for pretty much everything, a few Tupperware (depending on how many days I’m staying) and stick blender. I like to make my Airnbnb feel homely. You can also get a portable mini blender instead of a stick blender if that seems more convenient.


Traveling by car I will also bring more pantry foods so that I don’t have to go to the shops if I don’t want to on the first day that I arrive. So, I will bring a few La Zuppa soups, microwavable rice cups, cans of tuna, bananas, oats, peanut butter, protein powder, broth. Usually enough to get me through the afternoon and morning then I can go grocery shopping with a steady blood sugar level. Some of these supplies will last me the duration of my stay.


I can also bring extra supplements if I want to. Generally speaking, I will aim to minimise and bring only absolute necessities as listed above. I will usually time my detox when I am home rather than carrying extras with me. However, there may be exceptions to the rule. Depending on seasonal changes, timing of travel, where I am going and my personal motivation levels. It may very well happen that I want a change of scenery to do a 3 – 7 day detox.


TOP TIPS FOR PRIORITISING HEALTHY NUTRITION WHEN TRAVELING:

  • Research local eating spots: Most restaurants will have their menu available online and a quick search of the area will reveal the healthier options. Have a look at the photos and reviews.

  • Book accommodation with a kitchen or kitchenette: a lot can be done with a kettle and microwave. Soups, rice cups, broth, nourishing frozen options, boil potatoes in the microwave. Breakfast can also be simply prepared when you have a fridge and toaster. Think oats, overnight oats, even eggs in the microwave if not on the stove!

  • Healthy Plate Model: I always come back to this one. Make sure 1/2 your plate is filled with non-starchy vegetables, 1/4 protein and 1/4 wholegrains. Seek meals such as "nourish bowls" and balance your day with a little consciousness. If you've had less vegetables at lunch, aim for more at dinner. If you know you're going out for dinner, have a lighter lunch.

  • Pack your snacks and some supplies: something my mum has drilled into me. You never know if the car/bus will break down or the plane will be delayed! Bring nuts, seeds, trial mix, some good quality protein bars, beef jerky, water, can of tuna, fruit, fruit, fruit, snackable veggies, yoghurt, boiled eggs, hummus (depending on circumstances choose most appropriate snacks, did I mention fruit?).

  • Take a greens drink/powder: its really easy to bring and a great way to increase your vegetable and antioxidant intake.

  • Keep It Simple Sweetheart: Pick the easiest, simplest, most appropriate options that work for you and stick to them each time you travel. This might take some trial and error and correction but once you have a nutritional travel plan that works - use it.



A NOTE ON CHANGING TIME ZONES

The body is smart. It knows when you are about to eat even before you eat (Chrono-nutrition: an emerging field building on the relationship between temporal eating patterns, circadian rhythms, and metabolic health). The challenge with this is, many people don’t eat at the same time as work/errands take priority.


Not eating at a consistent time every once in a while, is fine. However, as with anything – consistency is key. The body secretes digestive juices in preparation for food digestion 30min – 1hours prior to eating. You teach your body when it is time to eat by getting into the habit of eating at roughly the same times. When you don’t feed your body at that time, the body gets confused. It has just done all this work for you and you haven’t rewarded it with the expected meal. This may contribute to symptoms of IBS as there might be a lack of digestive juices when you do go to eat.


If you are traveling somewhere for 5 days or less and the time difference is not drastic (say 3 – 4 hours), maintaining your ‘eating window’ can be beneficial. What this means is that you actually eat at the same times you usually would in your home city. So, keep your watch going by your home city time if you must. This will lessen the impact when you get back as you are keeping your body clock running on it’s well known, usual time.

If you are traveling where the time difference is over 10 hours you’ll want to adjust as quickly as possible. If it is time to eat and you are not hungry, having something small will start to change your bodies eating window signals.


Fasting on short domestic flights is best. Traveling long distances by plane focus on consuming protein and fats to keep your body insulin sensitive. Bring with you some beef jerky, nuts and seeds, quality protein bars and drink lots of water. Pick at the airplane meal to consume the vegetables and protein and leave the bread roll. Have a look at the airline dietary requirements options. To my knowledge there is not yet a keto/ low carb option. Consider a diabetic meal option which will be sugar reduced.


If you want to help the body adjust time zones even quicker, you’ll also want to get up, walk to the back of the airplane, do 25-50 air squats every 1-2 hours and 15 – 25 deep breaths. Blood flow is crucial.

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Did you find this blog helpful and informative? Tag & Share with your friends who would love it too! Sign up for my Free NuFit Wellness Newsletter to stay in the loop. Attend my Wellness Workshops. Promoting consciousness in food choices helping people heal. Dietitian & Wellness Coach, Health Presenter, Gut Health Specialist - Kathy Ozakovic.

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KEYWORDS: Travel, Nutrition, Snacks, Protein, Fats, Timezones, Fasting, Supplements, Traveling, Packing, Food, Health, Wellness, Trips

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