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Easy ways to prepare healthy meals while traveling

Illustration showing how to eat healthy as a locum tenens physician

Plant-based chef and family physician Colin Zhu, DO, DipABLM, shares his tips on how to eat healthy while traveling for a locum tenens assignment.

If you travel often — like many locum tenens physicians do — it can be hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle. But being away from home doesn’t mean you have to disregard your greens. It’s easier than you might think to enjoy life on the road and take care of yourself. Here’s how you can prepare healthy meals while traveling.

1. Plan your priorities

What kind of diet do you have? Are you on a plant-based diet or a keto one? If you are on a whole-foods, plant-based diet, fruits and vegetables should be on top of your priority list to shop for. Whichever diet it is, preparation takes the guesswork out.

2. Do some research

Check out the hotels, rooms, or stores in the place you’re going. Do they have a mini-fridge where you can store your greens? Do they offer healthy meals in nearby restaurants or convenient delivery service? Double check these options so that you’ll know how to plan for your meals.

3. Create a menu

Set out a menu for your meals. However, you don’t have to be really strict about this. You can plan your snacks, but you can also opt for healthy options in a local restaurant. Check out the restaurant’s menu ahead of time and leverage reviews/ratings from websites like Yelp.

4. Keep them bite-sized

It’s best to travel light. That said, keep your snacks and meals bite-sized. Cut the fruits in chunks. Store your healthy meals in either bowls or pouches. This is also the perfect time to get creative with your food. Bring dry food whenever you can. Nuts, seeds, and homemade fruit and nut bars are my favorite go-to snacks! 

5. Get the right containers 

If you’re bringing along perishables, make sure you have the right containers to keep them fresh. There are portable coolers that can keep your veggies crisp and fresh for a couple of hours.

6. Remember the accessories

Does your portable blender need batteries? Do you have reusable utensils with you? There is nothing more frustrating than opening a yogurt only to realize that you’ve forgotten the spoon. Before heading out, don’t forget to check if you have brought along all your utensils and other tools if you decide to prepare your own food along the way. It’s a great time to utilize reusable and eco-friendly options!

7. Stay hydrated

Don’t forget to keep hydrated while traveling to your destination. You can also prepare a power smoothie in a temperature-regulating water bottle to get you active and ready for the travel ahead.

8. Don’t stress out

If you happen to eat out a lot on your trip or miss those healthy meals, that’s okay. There could be food limitations where you’re going. Maybe there are local delicacies you can’t resist. Don’t stress out about it. You can always get back to your routine as soon as you’re able to. The most important thing to remember is to enjoy yourself in the moment.

While many people think traveling is just for leisure, it actually improves our health and overall well-being. So, the next time you travel, follow these tips to keep yourself healthy! You can always get creative and pack healthy meals in a way that best suits you. And remember: travel safe and stay healthy, physically and mentally!

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