Trying the local cuisine can be one of the most exciting parts about traveling to a foreign country. However, it is important to be careful of what you eat. The way food is prepared or what ingredients it contains may be different in USA than in other countries, putting unknowing travelers – especially senior travelers – at risk of falling ill or feeling a lack of energy. Opt for healthy food and know your food options before you order while traveling in America, so that an attempt to experience the culture doesn’t leave you sick. These healthy eating travel tips will help you make the best food choices during your trip.
Avoid relying on unhealthy foods to satisfy your hunger by bringing your own snacks. Pack healthy snacks for traveling like fruits, vegetables, granola, nuts, and yogurt to stay full and energized on long plane or car rides.
People with heart conditions, diabetes, and other medical conditions should avoid soft drinks, caffeine, and alcoholic beverages, and others should limit their intake of these drinks. Sugary beverages can cause fatigue and headaches, so instead, drink plenty of water, and choose real fruit juices, sports drinks, and electrolyte water over soda and other caffeinated beverages.
Vegetarian food options are often packed with nutritious vegetables, soy products, beans, or nuts, all of which are good-for-you energy sources. When flying, opt for vegetarian meals offered by many major airlines. At the airport, look for vegetarian options that contain fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts to keep you focused during your travels. If you’re traveling long distances by car in the US, look for these vegetarian fast food options:
- Burger King has a veggie burger on its menu.
- Chipotle has a variety of vegetarian choices like burritos and burrito bowls.
- Taco Bell can make most of its menu options vegetarian. Just ask to substitute potatoes or beans for the meat.
- Starbucks has many vegetarian breakfast and lunch options like parfaits, bagels, muffins, and sandwiches.
- Subway and Quizno’s have plenty of vegetarian sandwiches. Create your own meat-free sandwich packed with vegetables and hummus.
Many fast food joints and restaurants have both grilled or sautéed and fried selections. Avoid consuming too many fried foods like French fries and fried foods. Not only are they bad for your heart and cholesterol, but they will also make you feel tired, heavy, and bloated. On long plane and car rides when you need plenty of energy, grilled options are much better.
If you have any allergies or dietary restrictions, ask restaurants about the cooking oils and ingredients used. Never assume that a familiar menu option is prepared the same way as it is in your home country. To be safe, it is best to ask about any dietary concerns such as these:
- Does the meal contain eggs, milk, nut, or gluten ingredients?
- Which types of oils are used to cook the meal?
- Are both vegetarian foods and non-veg foods prepared in or served on the same fryers, grills, and dishes?
Foods to Avoid with Certain Health Concerns
If you have a specific health concern, pay particular attention to these foods to avoid while traveling.
- Foods to avoid with diabetes – Foods with high amounts of sugar, sodium, fat, and refined starches such as candy, fruit juices, syrup, French fries, and white bread.
- Foods to avoid with heart disease – Foods with saturated fats, trans fats, salt, sugar, and cholesterol such as high-fat dairy products, soft drinks, chips, and fried foods.
- Foods to avoid with high blood pressure – Foods with high amounts of sodium, salt, and sugar such as canned soup, French fries, coffee, and alcohol.
- Foods to avoid with high cholesterol – Foods with high amounts of saturated fats and trans fats such as oils, egg yolks, and milk products.
Despite taking extra precautions to eat healthy while traveling, allergies or illnesses can arise at any time. For this reason in conjunction with the high cost of healthcare in America, it is highly recommended that you protect yourself with a travel medical insurance plan.