Finding Healthy Dining Alternatives On The Road - My Family Travels

Plan ahead and you can carry tasty road food snacks, and find hotels and restaurants that serve balanced and healthy meals to both kids and adults.

In the midst of today's organic movement, families are becoming more health conscious. Parents are more aware of the food they are feeding their children, and want to know exactly where it's coming from. The purchase of organic foods has risen greatly each year since 1990, while the mentality of the general public concerning food has changed significantly as people have begun to center their diets around safe and healthy foods.

For parents who spend hours preparing food, seeking out and purchasing local and organic ingredients, and finding the perfect balance between protein, fats and carbohydrates in their kids' meals, the thought of eating three meals a day in restaurants can be daunting.

Fear no more — healthy alternatives for travelers are out there; finding the best travel snacks and healthful road food just takes a bit more research. 

Travel Businesses Echo Health Trends

Courtyard by Marriott is an example of a brand-wide initiative to make it easier for travelers to maintain a healthy diet while on the road. They have launched new menus that list total calories for each item, in keeping with the U.S. healthcare reform bill, which will require all chain restaurants in the U.S. to post calorie counts on their menus.

Other hotels have focused on individual meals, one plate at a time. The "most important meal of the day" — breakfast — is the one in which many chains have tried to offer healthy foods, additional fruits, and whole grains on their menu.

The classic InterContinental New York Barclay's Hotel located on Manhattan's Upper East Side is part of the trend, offering a "natural power breakfast" comprised of local, organic and sustainable food. As part of Barclay's "Sustainability in the City" initiative, chef Carmine Marletta has created a unique breakfast experience complete with organic fruit and vegetable juices, yogurt smoothies, organic oatmeal, hormone-free meats, NY state organic cheeses and a few savory treats such as apple bread pudding. The healthy buffet is open daily and can be enjoyed by non-guests as well as hotel residents.

With 17 hotels and resorts throughout the US and Canada, Loews boasts some of the most successful travel programs around, providing travelers with a comfortable and vibrant experience. Loews hotels are kid-friendly, allowing for an easy and fun family vacation, and "Breakfast at Loews" offers a new way for families to start their day offering custom juice blends, smoothies, local yogurt, eggs and granola, in addition to healthy options such as steel cut oatmeal and fresh fruit.

Other hotels, ranging from the 7th floor roof garden of the Park Hyatt Chicago, where the chef serves small healthy salads and drinks, to the dining room of the The Wauwinet, the classic, waterfront Nantucket inn whose Chef David Daniels raises his own parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme, families will find many serious restauranteurs focused on locally grown food.

All the major cruise lines offer "heart-healthy" and "slim" menus. The a la carte dining options are the most healthy if you choose selections from that side of the menu; even better, avoid the buffet lines altogether. All it takes is willpower, something that many kids leave behind on vacation.


Plan Dining Stops Ahead with Online Tools

If you can steer the family to right restaurants, willpower won't be such a big issue. The Eat Well Guide allows travelers to eat well everywhere, offering free downloads of guides and fun excursions within different states throughout the US, based on locally raised foods and the local agricultural produce.

The site's "Taste of Cape Cod" excursion, for example, provides detailed descriptions of the different farms your family can visit (a few where you can pick your own produce), small family-owned restaurants for meals, and local groceries and farm stands throughout the Cape Cod area for take-home treats.

Similarly, the Eat Well Guide's "Vermont Cheese Tour" lists all of the local bakeries, coffee houses, coops and cheese shops throughout the state. The website also features an eat well mapping tool, allowing travelers to locate all of the organic and sustainable food stops along their route.

Pack your own Snacks

The key to staying healthy while traveling is simple; plan ahead.

Pack simple healthful snacks such as apples, pears, bananas, lowfat granola or breakfast bars, dried fruits, cheese sticks and lowfat crackers for your trip. With a limited food selection at the airport opt, for the lowfat muffins, refrigerated yogurt and grilled chicken items from the food stands. Many terminals now have concessions that serve healthy foods, so if you forgot anything, just inquire at the terminal information desk.

Most airlines offer vegan and vegetarian menus and allow special food requests to be made at least 12 hours in advance of your flight, call your airline directly to receive information on alternative food options.

Most importantly, stay hydrated while traveling! Always have bottled water readily available, as it will keep you feeling fuller and you'll be less likely to be tempted by unhealthy snacks. 

No Regrets!

If you return home feeling as if you're family has over-indulged while on vacation, waste no time on regrets. Get right back into your normal healthy routine and take what you've learned about staying healthy while traveling on this trip in planning your next vacation!

Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.