Healthy Travel with Kids: 8 Tips for Eating Well on the Road
|July 27, 2015||Posted by Stacy under Healthy travel|
Our big summer trip is finally here. My kids and I are off to spend three weeks with family on the Jersey shore. Airports, restaurant meals, unhealthy kids menus and an abundance of sweet temptations are certain to pose their challenges, but I’m ready. Here’s how I’ve learned to deal with them–and you can, too.
Make a plan.
To avoid constant requests for sweets and other junk, we have a one-treat-a-day rule. Even though it’s the same general rule that we follow at home, I remind my kids about it before departing. I also remind them that chocolate milk and Frosted Flakes are sugary treats, so if they choose one for breakfast, it will be their dessert for the day. It works well because it puts the decision in their court (versus me telling them what they can and cannot have).
Focus on new foods.
We never eat as well on our trips as we do at home. But rather than stress about it, I look at our travels as an opportunity to expose my family to new foods. If you’re eating out, order an appetizer for the table, or offer your kiddos bites of your meal. Last year, while visiting family in New Jersey, my kids were introduced to calamari, which all three now love. And my oldest son, who isn’t the most open minded when it comes to food, ate salmon cakes and an entire plate of spaghetti squash with sausage and baby kale (two delicious dishes that my sister cooked up). I’ve found that my kids are more receptive to branching out when we’re on the road.
Pack healthy snacks.
I’ve already explained to my kids that we’ll be eating some meals at restaurants, which is expensive and not always the healthiest. So if they’re hungry between meals, we’ll be sticking to snacks that we bring from home, including apples, peanut butter and popcorn.
Avoid the kids’ menu.
As we all know, kids’ menus tend to be loaded with not-so-healthy stuff like pizza and chicken tenders, and most are seriously lacking in fruits and veggies. Since my kids enjoy those foods, I let them order them occasionally (with a side of fresh fruit or veggies). At other times, I have them split an adult-sized entree, share one with me, or order an appetizer and a side.
Order a healthy starter.
When eating out, I generally tried to shoo away the bread basket and instead order a healthy appetizer to nibble on. To keep the cost down, try ordering a side of vegetables (such as steamed broccoli with lemon) or ask if a small salad comes with your child’s meal.
Recruit an ally.
If you’re going to be spending time with family, try to find someone to help you on the food front. Last year, I asked my sister if she could assist—and wow, did she ever deliver. She cooked up several healthy meals and served wholesome desserts like dark chocolate fondue with fresh berries. Talking to her about how to handle requests for sugary stuff really paid off. We were on the same page and it helped a ton.
Eat in, if possible.
On this trip, we’ll be in a hotel the entire time. But normally, we stay with family. And when we do, we utilize their kitchens for most meals, which not only helps us eat better, but saves a ton a money.
Remember: You’re on vacation, so it’s OK to splurge a little. Enjoying your time together is most important. When my kids are eating foods that aren’t the healthiest, I try my best not to worry knowing that we’ll back to wholesome home-cooked meals soon enough.
How does your family manage to eat healthy when you’re traveling? Please share your tips in the comments section below!