Tips for Mediterranean Diet Meal Planning for Travelers

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Whether you’re jetting off on a dream vacation or a quick work trip, sticking to your healthy Mediterranean diet when on the go can seem daunting. The temptation of delectable local cuisine, limited healthy options, and disrupted routines can derail even your best intentions. 

With some preparation and planning, you can maintain your Mediterranean diet anywhere in the world. Read on for practical strategies, technology tools, and FAQs to simplify Mediterranean meal planning while traveling.

The Challenge of Sticking to the Mediterranean Diet While Traveling

One of the biggest hurdles to overcome when traveling is the abundance of irresistible local cuisine that may not align with Mediterranean diet principles. When you’re on vacation and surrounded by delicious fried foods, heavy cream sauces, and sugary desserts, it can be incredibly hard to resist temptation. 

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes produce, seafood, whole grains, nuts, and healthy fats – which are not always easy to find when you’re exploring new destinations.

Disrupted routines also play a major role in deterring travelers from sticking to the diet. Without access to your usual grocery stores and prepped meals from home, it’s very convenient to rely on packaged snacks from the hotel lobby, fast food, and restaurant fare that is often high in calories, salt, and preservatives.

Skipping your typical breakfast ritual or getting meals at odd hours can also throw off your metabolism and healthy habits.

The excitement and schedule changes of travel make it all too easy to indulge while letting your discipline slide. But with proper planning, you can continue succeeding on the Mediterranean diet even while on the go.

Packing nutritious snacks, researching restaurant options ahead of time, and using hotel kitchens to prepare simple meals will go a long way. Staying hydrated, getting activity each day, and limiting alcohol can also offset some of travel’s nutritional pitfalls. 

If you’re staying in a home rental or extended-stay hotel, consider having Mediterranean food delivery a few nights a week. Many restaurants offer healthier Mediterranean options for delivery or takeout. 

Planning ahead and taking advantage of these services can make it easier to enjoy traditional dishes from home while on the road. With commitment and smart strategies, you can enjoy all the delicious flavors of your destination without derailing your dietary goals.

Strategies for Successful Mediterranean Diet Meal Planning on the Go

With some preparation, you can enjoy both delicious local cuisine and your healthy Mediterranean diet. Here are some strategies:

Pack Your Own Mediterranean-Friendly Snacks

Stock your carry-on with portable nuts, seeds, whole fruit, roasted chickpeas, hummus cups, and trail mix. Having your own healthy snacks on hand prevents impulsive, less nutritious purchases on the road.

Research Mediterranean-Friendly Dining Options in Advance

Scope out restaurants near your hotel or along your travel route. Look for those offering grilled fish, lean meats, hearty salads with olive oil dressing, and whole grain sides. This allows you to identify healthy choices no matter where you’re eating.

Make the Most of Hotel Breakfast Offerings

Start your day right with a balanced hotel breakfast. Opt for fresh fruits, Greek yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, oatmeal with nuts and berries, or whole-grain toast. Avoid sugary pastries and stick with water, coffee, or tea over juice.

Cook Simple Meals in Lodging With Kitchen Access

If your hotel or rental has kitchen access, take advantage by cooking quick Mediterranean meals. Whip up omelets, Greek yogurt bowls, or tuna salad using on-hand produce, canned tuna, olive oil, and pantry staples.

Utilizing Technology to Stay on Track 

Today’s apps and websites make it easier than ever to locate Mediterranean diet-approved dining options:

  • There are various apps that will help you find restaurants with vegetarian, vegan, and healthy offerings in any city worldwide.
  • Restaurant review sites let you search menus and reviews that mention Mediterranean dishes and ingredients.
  • Healthy travel blogs and forums like Nomadic Matt and Veggie Vagabonds provide first-hand tips on sticking to plant-based diets abroad.
  • Google Maps allows you to search for restaurant keywords like “Mediterranean cuisine” and “farm-to-table” nearby.

Adapting the Mediterranean Diet to Different Cuisines

When traveling, you can apply Mediterranean diet principles to local cuisines for a delicious and healthy experience:

  • In Asia, load up on vegetables, seafood, noodles, rice, herbs, spices, green tea, and use oils like sesame for cooking.
  • In Mexico, fill your plate with grilled fish, shrimp, peppers, onions, avocado, beans, corn tortillas, and fresh salsa over creamy sauces.
  • In India, feast on vegetable curries, lentil dals, fresh chutneys, raita, brown rice, grilled meats, and mint tea.
  • In the U.S., choose grilled proteins, bright salads, roasted veggies, whole grains, healthy fats, fresh fruit, and water over sugary beverages.

Practical Tips for Road Trips and Long Journeys

Road trips, trains, and long flights all pose challenges. Here are some tips:

  • Grill chicken, salmon, or veggies ahead and pack in insulated bags with nuts, fruits, and salads.
  • Stock the cooler with yogurt, hummus, olives, whole grain bread, and wraps for easy snacking.
  • Hit up grocery stores along your route and pick up fresh produce.
  • Bring a refillable water bottle and reusable utensils to reduce waste.
  • Stop for meals at restaurants advertising locally sourced ingredients for Mediterranean dishes.
  • Avoid vending machine snacks and resist overdoing vacation indulgences. A little dark chocolate or wine is ok!

The Benefits of Sticking to the Mediterranean Diet While Traveling

Beyond just maintaining your healthy regimen, adhering to the Mediterranean diet while traveling has advantages including these:

  • Consistent energy and avoided fatigue from heavy, greasy foods.
  • Feeling fresh and well-rested from nutritious meals.
  • Hydration from ample water intake.
  • Improved mood from balanced meals high in nutrients.
  • Deeper immersion into local culinary culture by seeking traditional cuisine.
  • Opportunity to discover new-to-you Mediterranean diet-approved foods and recipes.

The typical ratios of the Mediterranean diet have been found to be 50-60% carbohydrates, 15-20% protein, and 30% fats, which is considered a fairly balanced split. Make sure that each meal contains a source of complex carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats to create a nutritious balanced plate to support your health. 

Bring the vibrant, fresh flavors of the Mediterranean along on your journeys to stay nourished and energized, wherever you roam. Your body and taste buds will thank you.

Key Takeaway

With some planning and creativity, you can enjoy all kinds of yummy foods on your trips without falling off the Mediterranean diet. Have fun trying new exotic dishes, but throw in some veggies, whole grains, or grilled fish to keep it balanced. 

Don’t be afraid to ask how a dish is prepared and request modifications too. And be sure to pack healthy snacks from home so you’re never starving. 

Bottom line – you absolutely can keep up your healthy habits and still dive into the local flavors! Take in all the experiences, but fuel your body right to really get the most out of your fabulous adventures abroad!

FAQs on Mediterranean Diet Meal Planning for Travelers

  1. How do you eat a Mediterranean diet on the road?

Focus on whole, fresh foods like produce, canned fish, nuts, seeds, and heart-healthy oils. Grill lean protein when possible, choose veggie-based restaurant meals, and pack your own healthy snacks. Stay hydrated with water and limit sugary drinks, packaged goods, and fried foods.

  1. What are the dos and don’ts of the Mediterranean diet?

Dos: Eat more veggies, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and herbs. Cook with olive oil. Eat fish and poultry 2x a week. Have yogurt, eggs, and cheese in moderation. Drink water as your beverage of choice.

Don’ts: Avoid processed foods, sugary drinks, refined carbs, trans fats, and excessive red meat. Don’t overdo sweet desserts or salt.

  1. What is the best thing to eat on a Mediterranean diet?

Fresh, seasonal produce like leafy greens, colorful veggies, and fresh fruit. Herb-seasoned fish and shellfish. Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and oats. Don’t forget healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, seeds, and avocados.

About the Author

Jared Levenson is a former binge eating wrestler turned Zen Buddhist Monk, Internal Family Systems counselor and nutrition wellness coach. He's helped hundreds of people through universal meal principles and internal family systems to make peace with food, stop binge eating, and find true health and wholeness.

@jared_levenson

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