Expert Advice: How to eat healthy while traveling
About the interviewee: Tracy Morris
Tracy is Fitbit’s Nutritionist. With a master’s degree in nutrition and dietetics from South Africa, she’s also an Australian Accredited Practising Dietitian, and an international member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in the US. Over the past 15 years, Tracy's lived in five different countries, inspiring people around the globe to be healthy. Currently, she happily lives in Northern California where she writes, practices Pilates, and enjoys going on fun travel adventures with her three kids (Chloe 7 years, Matt 5 years, and Finley 2 years) and husband.
How did you come to the field of nutrition?
I was always interested in how food affected my body. From a young age, I understood that eating healthy food made me feel better than eating less healthy food did. It didn’t hurt that the only place to get a Masters in Nutrition in South Africa was in beautiful Cape Town, so I didn’t hesitate to pack up my bags and leave inland Johannesburg for beach living.
What are your recommendations for snacks when traveling? (what should one pack ..)
Travel snacks should nutritious and ideally not too messy! My favorite choices are: non-squishy fruits like apples and pears (I cut them into slices and coat in a tiny squeeze of lemon juice to prevent them from going brown), baby carrot sticks, sugar snap peas, nuts (for older kids), low-sugar granola bars, cheese sticks, small bags of pretzels, whole grain crackers, or a mix of cheerios and raisins.
When we travel on long car trips, I pack each of my kids a snack bag which will include something from each food group for example: boiled eggs, sliced apple, baby carrots/ cucumber/red pepper strips, cheese stick, PB&J sandwich, water, and a paper napkin. That way they have a selection of healthy food they can snack on throughout the journey, without needing me to pass something to them every few minutes.
For plane rides, I like to pack snacks that take time to eat, and can keep them occupied for a little while. My favorite is to make my own version of a trail mix which can include things like cheerios, pretzels, cashews, pepitas, raisins and a few M&Ms thrown in to add color and to get their attention.
Is it important to take supplements while traveling?
Most mornings, even when traveling, I give my kids an omega 3 supplement (they aren’t huge fans of fatty fish) and a probiotic supplement. I think the probiotic is particularly important when traveling as it can strengthen your immune system, so you and your kids can avoid catching a nasty travel bug.
Are there specific foods you recommend to stay away from?
I tend to avoid messy foods like yogurts, yogurt sticks, juice or milk drinks (which get half drunken, and then you’re stuck holding them), and tons of candy when traveling. I also don’t like the mindset that when you’re on holiday you can eat whatever you want. Sure, there’s room for a few more treats—but you’ll regret eating junk food for an entire holiday, and it’s confusing to kids when they return from a vacation that was filled with daily servings of ice-cream, candy and chips, to be told they can’t have it everyday anymore. You’ll just make things harder on yourself because they will continue to ask for it. Stick to the same general eating rules you have at home, even when away on vacation. This will stand your kids in good stead for when they are adults too, as they wouldn’t have been trained to have a binge-when-on-vacation approach to eating.
What are your top tips for eating healthy while traveling?
Stick to eating fresh, real food, prepared by you, as much as possible.
What are your top tips to stay healthy in general?
Feed yourself and your family real food, as close to how it appears in nature. Grow your own food with your kids—even a simple herb garden is fun for kids. Avoid ultra-processed foods like sugary drinks, fatty fast food and sugary snacks, which are calorie-rich and nutrient-poor. Drink water, not juice. And teach your kids to eat mindfully —noticing, appreciating and savoring their food slowly.
When at home, and cooking for the family - what is your most popular recipe?
Bolognese sauce without a doubt! It’s so easy to make a big batch and freeze for extra meals. I include tons of veggies in the sauce like zucchini, mushrooms, red peppers, carrots, even broccoli. It’s super versatile too—I serve it with whole wheat pasta, quinoa, on baked potatoes, stuffed into red peppers and baked, or as a Sunday night treat in pizza rolls topped with cheese.
Your top favorite travel destination with kids and why?
Any destination that has a beach and warm weather! Laguna, Cape Town, and Sydney. Even lake beaches like Tahoe will do. The kids happily play all day long in the sand and water. It’s such an affordable way to travel!