The Traveller's Plate: Balancing Indulgence and Nutrition While Travelling

Australia 19 October 2023

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The Traveller's Plate: Balancing Indulgence and Nutrition While Travelling

Travelling is an exciting adventure that allows you to explore new cultures, cuisines, and experiences. However, for many travellers, it can also be a time when your diet is thrown out the window in lieu of dietary indulgence and overindulgence. 

While it's perfectly natural to want to savour local delicacies and treat yourself while on vacation, finding the right balance between indulgence and nutrition is essential for maintaining your overall well-being. In this guide, we'll explore strategies to help you strike that balance and savour your travels without sacrificing your health.

The Temptations of Travelling

For many, one of the key joys about travelling is getting the chance to try all sorts of local culinary dishes and excite their taste buds. Whether that comes in the form of hitting up a different patisserie every morning in Melbourne, getting adventurous with street foods in Brisbane, or sweating over a bowl of noodles in Sydney. Regardless of your location, food will always be an integral part of the travelling experience.

However, while trying new foods can be a great journey for your tastebuds, it can have a significant impact on your diet over time. Sometimes the joy of eating foreign can lead to overindulgence and dietary choices that may not align with your usual eating habits.

Some of the more common temptations travellers face include:

  1. Overeating: The combination of being outside of your usual schedule and the excitement of interesting new foods can lead to overeating
  2. Frequent Dining Out: Travelling often means not having regular access to cooking facilities. This means many travellers rely on eating out at restaurants, which can mean larger portion sizes and hidden calorie traps.
  3. Indulgent Treats: Travelling often coincides with vacation time, so indulging in treats becomes a common theme for many. Whether that comes in the form of desserts, snacks, or alcoholic beverages.
  4. Limited Healthy Options: Sometimes, a destination of your choice can make it difficult to find nutritious meal options, affecting the balance of your diet.

Balancing Indulgence with Nutrition

An important key to note is that it is perfectly fine to indulge yourself with new foods and your favourite foods when travelling. No one should ever feel guilty for enjoying themselves, especially when it comes to trying exciting new experiences and rewarding yourself for a year of hard work. However, it is just as important to find a balance between indulgence and nutrition. By finding the balance between the two eating styles, you can ensure that you remain healthy and energised throughout your journey, rather than sluggish and guilty. 

To make it easier to maintain that balance between indulgence and nutrition, we have created a list of simple and easy-to-follow strategies:

1. Start Your Day Right

It may sound simple, but starting your day right with a balanced breakfast can do a lot for your entire day’s performance. Eating a meal rich in protein, whole grains, fresh fruits or vegetables provides you with a bounty of energy to take on the day. It also helps curb mid-morning hunger, reducing the temptation to snack on less nutritious options between meals.

2. Practice Portion Control

While it may seem difficult to achieve this strategy if you are eating out a lot, practising portion control can be an easy way to balance indulgence and nutrition. You can achieve this when dining out by sharing dishes with others, ordering solely appetisers or half portions, and even by taking leftovers back to your accommodation for another meal.

3. Prioritise Fresh Ingredients

When dining out, it is best for your diet to find restaurants and food vendors that prioritise fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients. That is because such establishments are more likely to offer healthier options for the flavours of the region.

4. Stay Hydrated

Food is not the only aspect you should consider when it comes to regulating your indulgent habits. Travelling often means a lot of time spent walking in the sun, especially in regions where the weather tends towards higher degrees.

Dehydration is known to lead to greater levels of hunger quite frequently. That is why it is so important to carry around a reusable water bottle to make a conscious effort to drink water throughout the day. You should also limit sugary beverages and alcohol, as they can dehydrate you further.

5. Enjoy Local Produce

Getting a taste of a country is possible without solely eating out in restaurants or from pre-packaged meals. Trying out local fresh produce is a great way to enjoy new flavours without overindulging.

Be sure to check out local markets for their offerings of fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season. These can make for delicious and nutritious snacks or sides for your meals, especially when you are on the go.

You can also balance indulgence with fresh nutritious ingredients by seeking out food-based tours. Most destinations will provide a chance to enjoy a luxurious day of roaming vineyards and indulging in fresh local produce. For example, the Swan Valley Food and Wine Drive Trail in Western Australia allows plenty of chances to explore the local vineyards and distilleries, while still offering delicious local beverages and foods; the perfect balance of physical exercise and indulgence.

6. Be Mindful of Snacking

While we would never say no to tasting what a local cuisine has to offer in terms of snacks and treats, it is important to remain mindful of your eating habits. Consider sharing your treats with friends or enjoying smaller portions to satisfy your cravings without overindulging.

7. Balance Alcohol Consumption

For those who like a cold alcoholic beverage to wind down while travelling, it is important to practise moderation throughout your trip. Be sure to keep up with your hydration efforts and balance your drinking with non-alcoholic choices such as herbal tea or juices. Overindulgence in alcohol can lead to poor food choices and disrupt your sleep, affecting how you feel while in the midst of travelling.

8. Incorporate Physical Activity

Do not forget to also include some physical activity in your travel itinerary alongside your desired stops at restaurants or food vendors. Walking tours, hikes, and exploring on foot are all great ways to burn extra calories and stay active while travelling.

9. Plan Your Splurges

Planning out your must-try dishes or treats at your destination can allow you to consciously decide how much you are going to indulge. By scheduling such splurges, you can maintain a balanced diet while still enjoying delicacies absolutely guilt-free.

10. Listen to Your Body

Be sure to regularly check in with your body while travelling, especially with respect to its hunger and fullness cues. It is best to eat when you're hungry and stop when you're satisfied. Avoid eating out of boredom or as a response to external cues like the availability of food to ensure you are not overeating.

11. Pack Healthy Snacks

Every day before you head off on a new adventure, try packing your own choices of healthy snacks like nuts, trail mix, or dried fruits. Having nutritious options readily available can help you resist less healthy temptations or regularly eating out.

12. Seek Out Nutrient-Rich Options

Even if you are enjoying the best options from the local cuisine, look for dishes that incorporate nutrient-rich ingredients like lean proteins, whole grains, and plenty of vegetables. These ingredients will ensure your body remains fully fuelled to take on the day and will prevent you from feeling unhealthy or sluggish. You can also try asking for modifications when you think it is necessary, such as reducing oil or sauce.

13. Maintain a Balanced Diet Overall

Always try balancing your meal choices throughout the day. If you have chosen to eat a particularly indulgent meal at some point, try balancing it out with more nutritious options throughout the day. For instance, if you have a rich dinner, opt for a lighter lunch.

This strategy is particularly important for those who have dietary restrictions. It is important to have your own dairy-free or low protein solutions prepared when travelling, as there may be instances where dining out does not offer safe options.

14. Practise Mindful Eating

While it may be tempting to go all in when you try a particularly delicious meal, it is integral for your health to take the time to savour every dish. Eating mindfully can help you recognise when you're satisfied and prevent overeating, while also allowing you to fully enjoy the flavours and textures of the dishes you're trying.

15. Listen to Local Recommendations

Ask locals for their favourite places to eat, and you'll often discover hidden gems that offer both delicious and nutritious meals.

Written by Lucy Mitchell @


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