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Healthy Eating On the Go: Do the Best You Can

We get a lot of questions about what to eat when you’re traveling, or when you’re at an event and don’t have a lot of healthy options. During the pandemic, there has been less travel and fewer parties, but as we emerge from each new wave, we may encounter more of those situations.

The good news is that it’s pretty rare to have zero healthy choices. (On a road trip, even McDonald’s has salad!) Just as important as having the right choices is making the right choices.

Here are some tips for navigating those on-the-go situations:

In a restaurant or for take-outOrder a salad with the dressing on the side (many salad dressings are high in fat and sugar). Ask if you can add plain grilled fish, get a side of vegetables or soup, and skip the fruity cocktails and dessert; or, split one dessert with everyone in your group. If you simply must have something sweet after your meal, see if you can grab a piece of fresh fruit at a local grocery or restaurant.
Bring food from homeObviously you can’t do this at a wedding or a work event, but if it’s travel that has you worried, the options are limitless: pack leftovers from home, sliced fruit and veggies, and nuts and seeds to snack on. If you run out of food from home while on your travels—tempting as it is to pull over to that rest stop and grab a sugary drink and a bag of chips—think about choosing water, unsweetened tea or coffee, a bag of nuts, dried fruit, or even whole-grain crackers to keep you going.
Relax, and eat what you wantFor real—if it’s just one meal, or a day, or even a week of meals (vacation!)—you could be doing yourself more harm by worrying than by just letting it go and enjoying yourself. Feel like having that ice cream sundae for dessert? Do it. Good nutrition is a marathon, not a sprint, and a few unhealthy meals are unlikely to harm you, as long as it’s a blip in an otherwise healthy lifestyle. For those days when you reach for the cake, ice cream, and French fries, try to add lots of healthy vegetables to other parts of your day. Or if you enjoy a Reuben sandwich at your favorite deli with an old friend, skip the side of pasta salad.

Then when you’re back to your usual routine, plan some healthy and delicious meals. Get more tips on nutrition, exercise, and rest in The Science of Living Well, Beyond Cancer and see recipes here.