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Foods Fit For Family Holidays

Schools out! Summer holidays here we come! Are you planning a family holiday over the summer? If so, eating healthy when travelling can be challenging.

Here are a few tips that may help:

On the road

  • Road trips can be quite the adventure. When starting out, keep oral rehydration drinks and jelly beans handy for those with motion sickness.
  • Fresh and dried fruit, nuts, popcorn, muesli bars and occasional sweets and water ice blocks are perfect snacks for travelling.
  • An esky packed with a frozen cooler brick is an option if you shop at supermarkets to buy yoghurts, drinks, salad veg and fruits like avocado, bread and sandwich fillings for a picnic.
  • Always have plenty of water for both you and the car, especially in hot weather.
  • Eat where the locals eat for the best food. Healthy takeaways include: Asian meat and vegie stir fries with steamed rice, tomato based pastas, meat/chicken/tuna/salmon salads and sandwiches, vegetarian pizzas on thin bases, sushi rolls, grilled fish or plainhamburgers.
  • Families travelling with caravans have greater options with cooking or microwaving in cabin or on site.

Flying and travelling overseas

  • Speak to your airline in advance if you have special dietary needs but on the off chance that no suitable meal  is served make sure you have suitable snacks (low GI, gluten free, low fat etc) packed in your hand luggage.
  • To help overcome jetlag, start eating meals in the timeframe of your destination and avoid drinking alcohol on the flight.
  • Drink still or mineral water to prevent dehydration and potential thrombosis. Keep moving lower leg muscles to maintain good circulation.(302)
  • Walnuts containing melatonin may help reset the body clock. Melatonin is involved in the body’s circadian rhythm, particularly programming the body to sleep and so may help overcome jetlag.(303,304) Be sure to get some sun as soon as you can when you land.(305)
  • Food safety overseas requires diligence. Check all drink bottle lids are securely fastened and were not re-used and re-filled. Avoid unpasteurised dairy, soups, fruit and veg salads, sticking with well cooked meats and vegetables and fruit you can peel. Pack the medical kit with powdered oral rehydration solutions just in case.
  • Travelling with fussy eaters? Take familiar packaged snacks from home for comfort. Where possible stick to their normal foods and meals from home while still encouraging them to try something new. Eating local cuisine is all part of the adventure of travelling.

Cruising the seas

  • Cruising is for some the most relaxing way to travel as everything is done for you and the journey is as important as the destination.
  • Good quality food will be readily available, so be mindful that it’s easy to overeat and gain weight.
  • Learn to say no politely as wait staff like to encourage consumption.
  • Check the size of the plates at buffet tables. Some cruise lines use platters designed to hold a small bowl for soup or salads with room beside it for a main meal. Avoid overloading these platters if skipping the soup and salad. Buffets also have too much choice so avoid going back for seconds and  remember in a week of evening meals you should have around 3-4 red meat meals if you choice is to eat meat, 2-3 fish meals and the rest chicken or vegetarian options. Alternatively, eat a-la-carte in restaurants where you can eat two courses comfortably.
  • A lack of exercise while cruising can also lead to weight gain. Be active onboard by using the pool, gym or walking tracks on promenade decks, playing tennis, basketball, shuffle board, or take dancing classes, sunrise yoga classes, active tours and excursions. Here’s a tip for getting your sea legs that I got from a merchant captain: walk the decks for 10 minutes when you first arrive onboard. Others swear by taking ginger. (306)

Travelling is a joy, but being as healthy when you arrive home as you were when you left is the greatest joy. Happy travels and all the best for a wonderful festive season!

Do you have any tips for travel or stories to share? Share them below!


Author: Lisa Yates, Consultant Dietitian Adv APD

Lisa Yates is an Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian with 16 years experience in nutrition, communications, clinical practice, as well as strategy development and implementation.

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