When traveling for business, it can be easy to reach for less healthy snacks when you’re pressed for time or needing to catch a flight. If you’re on the road a lot, those choices can do a number on your health and drag down your healthy eating goals even after the trip is over.
With heart disease holding steady as the leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for about one in every four deaths, making smarter snack choices for your heart is critically important. That doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice flavor or convenience though. Keep your motivation strong and hunger pangs away with these preparation-, planning- and flavor-focused tips to avoid that bag of chips or candy bar from the airport canteen and stay on track.
Since February is Heart Health Month, check out these easy, heart-healthy snack solutions for traveling smarter:
Prepare Before You Leave
Spending a little time on snack preparation before you head off to the airport or get in the car can pay big dividends. Try some of these ideas to stay on track:
1. Apple slices
It only takes a few minutes to slice up some fresh apples, which can bring some crunchiness and sweetness to snack time. If you’re worried about the fruit browning before you eat it, try brushing a little lemon juice on your apple slices before storage—the citric acid in the juice keeps cut apples fresh. You can also bring along a small container of nut butter to take the apples’ taste up a notch!
If you usually look for something salty, edamame (green soybeans) can be a great substitute. These small beans are packed with protein and low in calories, plus preparation is easy. Boil frozen edamame, drain and add a small amount of salt or other seasoning for a packable snack in minutes.
Grab and Go
Sometimes even minimal preparation is too much to handle, but that doesn’t mean your goals have to go out the window. Making better choices when you’re pressed for time isn’t easy, but these grab-and-go options can help you avoid that post-snack bloat:
Offering plenty of fiber, protein and heart healthy fats, nuts can be a great preparation-free snack. Nuts can be especially helpful when space is at a premium in your luggage since just a handful can be filling. Almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pecans and macadamia nuts are all great options, but look for the packages that are labeled “without added salt” to avoid counteracting the heart benefits.
[Related: Relieving Stress Headaches on the Road]
2. Dark chocolate
Try grabbing a few squares of dark chocolate for an indulgent treat. The antioxidants found in dark chocolate can support heart health. Keep a handle on the added sugar by looking for dark chocolate made from at least 60-70% cacao.
Go for some finger fruits! Mandarin oranges, grapes, and even freeze-dried or dehydrated fruit can be fast and easy to eat on-the-go. To avoid damage when storing fragile fruits like oranges in your luggage or bag, consider storing fruits in reusable plastic containers.
4. Protein bars
Protein bars are a popular choice for snacking in a hurry, but many of the most recognizable brands are packed full of sugar and salt. To find better choices, look for bars like RX Bars or KIND Bars made with natural ingredients like fruits, nuts and seeds—and keep the candy coating to a minimum!
[Related: Flu Season and Facilities Managers]
While the ideas above can be a great start, the most important factor is to plan and pack snacks that you’ll want to eat! Whether you usually look for something salty, sweet, crunchy or savory, a little planning and preparation can help deliver options that maintain heart health without compromising taste. Small changes can really add up and snacks are a great opportunity to make healthier choices. Your heart will thank you!
Two handpicked articles to read next: