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I know how hard healthy eating on trips can be. It’s almost an oxymoron, isn’t it—the idea of eating healthfully while traveling. You’re on vacation after all. Relaxing on your diet should be part of the deal! But here’s the good news. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. You can eat better on your RV trips AND eat deliciously… and once you stop trying to separate those two things, eating well in the RV gets a whole lot easier.
Here are a few simple habits James and I have that help us keep it healthy on the road. These are all changes we made over time, and the best part is they each have actually enhanced our trips, not hindered them. Perhaps these ideas will give you a little inspiration as you build your own healthier—and still just as tasty—RVing nutrition habits.
We plan meals and follow a list.
Many people are put off by the idea of planning trip menus ahead. I get it. It feels like a chore. But it doesn’t need to be a daunting undertaking. You can plan literally anything, even NOT to cook, and go out to eat instead! What’s important is that you’ve created a helpful road map; one that will actually save you time during the trip and help you avoid the dreaded “what should we do for dinner” dilemma.
When you plan ahead, you’re ensuring you’ll have more food variety. Not only does that mean your meals will be more interesting, it also increases the likelihood of meeting your nutrient needs.
And when it’s time to hit the store to gather the things needed for your plan, your list will help you ensure you won’t do any impulse buying. As a bonus, sticking to a list and following a plan means you’ll save space in your fridge AND reduce what ends up thrown away at the end of the week.
We choose our restaurants wisely, and order smartly!
Even though James and I keep it healthy in the RV, we love hitting restaurants on our travels! Eating out allows you to experience the area you’re visiting—a vibrant and decadent part of any RV adventure. Luckily these days it’s easy to preview menus online. Between that and reading reviews, you can choose restaurants that offer both healthy—and tasty—choices. We give priority to farm to table restaurants or any that mention they use local foods.
But we don’t stop there, we choose meals wisely, too–seeking out menu items that have lots of plant-based foods included. We choose raw where appropriate, and select steamed, baked, or grilled where we can. And we’re not afraid of asking our servers for help healthing-up our meal—perhaps swapping one of the sides for a fresh salad, or asking for dressings and sauces on the side, things like that.
Here’s my favorite advice to share when you’re eating at a restaurant: Try to slow down. The pace at which you eat dictates how much you will eat. So, slowly savor your meal, and enjoy the experience of being somewhere unique and special, all brought to you courtesy of your current RV adventure.
We jazz up our water and travel with ice.
You can easily transform a humdrum glass of RV tap water to something refreshing and appealing—something you’d look forward to drinking. We travel with a small-ish (68 oz) glass pitcher (see pic) and I fill it up with water in the morning, and then add whatever I have on hand—usually lemons, but also cucumber slices, fruit, herbs—and I’ll stick that in the RV fridge and then continue to refill it throughout the day.
I’ve noticed a trend with our RV friends who have compact RVs and small refrigerators. They don’t bother bringing ice or making ice, and instead settle for drinking room temperature water on RV trips. Traveling with ice may sound like a small thing, but it has a way of making water much more desirable, especially on hot summer days. The more appealing you can make your water, whether that be with fresh add-ins or ice, the more you’ll drink. Make it tasty enough that you’ll go for that instead of any sugary or unhealthy diet drinks.
We ditched chips and make popcorn instead.
Enter any grocery store and it’s likely you’ll find one aisle completely dedicated to chips. It can be so easy to succumb– especially when they’re so cheap, convenient, and have a way of satisfying two cravings at once: salt and carbs. You can improve your nutrition immensely by breaking the habit of buying them. If you don’t have any chips in your RV, you can’t eat them.
James and I gave up buying chips years ago. Instead, we travel with popcorn kernels, a microwave popcorn bowl, and various seasonings for toppings (click here for recipes!). Now that we’ve parted ways with chips, I don’t miss them at all. Popcorn is not only healthier and tastier, it also allows us to get creative with making our own spice combinations, which is much more fun than opening a bag of chips.
There are hundreds of other healthy eating habits you can build, but hopefully these will act as some inspiration to get you on the right track. Good food helps you feel at your best. So while you might be tempted to indulge or eat for convenience when traveling, consider finding some balance. Because when healthy eating becomes a valued part of your travels, your body will reward you with sustained health and energy– making your trip all the more spectacular.
How do you get the spices to stick to the popcorn without using butter? It seems like every time I try that it mostly winds up in the bottom of the bowl.
We use a spritz of olive oil spray! It works just as well as butter for getting things to “stick”.