Eating a balanced diet while traveling: 2022 edition

Updated: Jan 25

Are you struggling to find balance in your diet while traveling? You are not alone! Traveling can be a barrier to your nutrition goals that might seem challenging to overcome. However, it is manageable.

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While traveling, a few concepts to remember is to be conscientious about your food choices and portion sizes. Also, it is essential to remind yourself that you cannot eat the way you do at home while you are traveling... this may help with reducing guilt or stress around eating, in turn helping you enjoy the foods you like!

A few tips to remember is to consider that foods that contain more fat will be naturally higher in calories which may contribute to weight gain or inhibit weight loss. Foods that are higher in calories contain more significant amounts of fat and/or are cooked in fat, such as oil, butter, lard.

Additionally, animal-based proteins will contain more significant amounts of calories from fat than (some) plant-based proteins. Below is a VERY basic comparison table of animal-based proteins to plant-based proteins.

Note: the foods listed below represent foods prepared without fats. Different cuts of meat have varying amounts of fat and calories, and various cheeses have different amounts of calories and fat.


Calories from fat



3 oz plain chicken breast

145 calories

27 calories

24 grams

3 grams

3 oz plain steak

230 calories

144 calories

21 grams

16 grams

3 oz plain scrambled eggs

145 calories

90 calories

12 grams

3 grams

3 oz shrimp

85 calories

3 calories

20 grams

.3 grams

3 oz American cheese

315 calories

135 calories

15 grams

15 grams

3 oz black beans

120 calories

0 calories

6 grams

0 grams

3 oz tofu

95 calories

45 calories

10 grams

5 grams

3 oz edamame

120 calories

45 calories

12 grams

5 grams

3 oz of tempeh

165 calories

45 calories

19 grams

5 grams

Source: USDA Database

As you can see, the table above represents similar serving sizes of popular choices of animal-based proteins and plant-based proteins, detailing the amounts of calories, fat (grams), protein (grams), and calories from fat. This table may help you make conscious decisions about your protein choices for each meal.

Another concept to consider is adopting a similar way of eating while you are at home to travel. This will help keep continuity in your diet resulting in less yo-yo dieting, bouncing back and forth between a strict diet at home to a relaxed diet while on vacation.

Essential tips to follow while you are traveling:

  1. Stay hydrated, continue to drink the recommended amounts of water needed for your body

  2. Keep your meals nutritionally balanced by choosing adequate amounts of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins for each meal

  3. Choose nutrient-dense snacks for in between meals to help with reducing eating large portion sizes during meals


Audrey Butler, RDN, LDN is a Dietitian in Chicago who helps individuals implement a nutritionally-balanced diet using a plant-forward approach to feel healthy and energized. As a vegetarian nutritionist, she knows first-hand what the journey is like to implement a nutritionally-balanced diet, vegan diet, vegetarian diet, and plant-based diet located in Chicago.

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