5 Ways to Avoid Excess Sugar While Traveling



Last week, I wrote an article about kicking the sugar habit in our household. Since that time I have gotten a few inquiries about how to continue to habit while traveling and on the road. It is definitely more challenging to stay on track while traveling, in and out of hotel rooms, and living out of your car while working, but not impossible.

I compiled some of my best practices from the road and useful tips that I use while traveling to help me stay *as much* on track as possible when in another city, state, or country.



Do Your Prep Work

The very first thing to do when traveling and trying to avoid all the sugary temptations on the road is to do some prep work before your trip even starts. For me, that is a trip to the grocery store to stock up on items I know will fill me up in a pinch and also are packable for road trips, flights, and other travel. For me, these are snacks like:

Vermont Meat Sticks (check the varieties since some contain sugar) – they come in a variety of flavors.

EPIC Bars – Epic Bars have a whole line of products that are Whole 30 compliant making them sugar-free.

screen-shot-2016-09-21-at-12-06-40-pmOrganic String Cheese – although not the best option in the world when it comes to cheese it is a safe bet when traveling. It can be stored in a cooler in your car or make it through a flight.

Seaweed Snacks – seaweed snacks are portable and easy for an on the go snack. Check the labels to make sure they aren’t using canola or sunflower oil and opt for ones make with Olive Oil. SeaSnax are a safe bet.

In terms of coffee, I pack that as well before I head out of town:

Four Sigmatic Foods – I really enjoy their mushroom coffee (don’t worry it’s real coffee). It is quick and easy to pack the individual servings in my travel bag for an easy coffee on the road. Also, saves you money if you bring your own cup. Most places will only charge you 5 or 10 cents for the hot water you need.

Coffee Blocks – For those who like their coffee with butter, coconut oil, and more this is a lifesaver on flights. Literally just squeeze the pouch into hot water, stir, and you have a fat filled tasty coffee.



Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

When traveling, chances are most of your meals will be at restaurants or on the run. For many, it can be challenging to keep on track while eating out. But eating out can be fine as long as you are willing to look at the menu and ask a few questions of your server.

Safe bets when ordering out:

steak-1218751_960_720Order Your Protein Naked – ask your server to hold the sauce, and just bring your the protein grilled, if ordering a steak I always ask them to put butter on it, chances are it’s not my grass fed butter from home, but on the road, you have to make concessions sometimes.

Skip the Side – instead of the starchy, sugar laden, side order – trust me there is probably sugar in it, ask instead for steamed veggies or a side salad with dressing on the side. On dressing, ask them to just bring you some olive oil and crack some pepper on top of that, instant dressing. It sounds boring but will help you stay on track.

Hold the Bread – Before bread comes to the table, ask your server to not bring any or ask them to take it away. Better the temptations left out of sight.

screen-shot-2016-09-21-at-12-07-30-pmHide the Dessert Menu – If you happen to find yourself at a big chain restaurant with all the glossy photos on the menus, including that huge dessert menu, remove it and remove the temptation. Put all that stuff on the floor next to your table or in an empty seat. Again out of sight, out of mind.

Seek Out the Best Options – If you are in a big city or urban area check out and see if they have any salad restaurants. These are not only popping up in urban areas but are also becoming more popular in airports and are a healthier alternative to that fast food option. Again check the dressings as they are a source of hidden sugars.



Good Food in Weird Places

Traveling, at least for obstacle course racing has brought me to some pretty strange places. Often the choices of food are limited to a couple fast food places, and if you are lucky a bar to grab a burger. However, most of these towns also have one thing in common, Walmart.

photo-1While I deplore shopping at Walmart on so many levels, the superstores have one thing in common that is worth noting, their produce section. In a pinch, Walmart has their rotisserie chicken which has no sugar added to it. The chicken is high in sodium but in a pinch, it’s an okay option when you are limited. Also, you can pick up one of their pre-made salads and forgo the dressing and other crap and just eat the greens.

Additionally, Walmart has upped their game recently in the organic department so chances are if you have a refrigerator in your hotel you can find a few items to turn into meals in a pinch while on the road.



Local Farmer’s Markets


Jackson Heights, NYC Farmer’s Market

If it is summertime and a weekend, many small towns and large cities now have farmer’s markets with the explosion of the local food movement.

If you are staying in a hotel ask the front desk if the town has a farmer’s market or staying with friends or family have them take you to their local farmer’s market. A bonus is you might be opening a new world up to your friends and family in the process.

Time doesn’t always permit this sort of side adventure while on trips it can open your world up to the local community you find yourself traveling through. Often vendors are passionate about their products and are willing to talk to you about what might be or isn’t in processed foods. Snap peas, celery, carrots, and other veggies make great snacks on the road and don’t require any cooking.



Don’t Stress

My last bit of advice is not to stress about the details. Sometimes when you are on a trip, staying with friends, or on vacation, the food choices you normally eat just might not be available.

Instead of listing your demands to your host, go with the flow. When you get to decide what you are eating, opt for the best choice possible. If staying with a family and they made you dinner, don’t blow them off. One meal will not be the downfall of your life and the time you spend with friends and loved ones will outweigh the extra bit of sugar you got in that one meal. Just opt out of dessert if offered and instead suggest a cup of tea or something, sans sugar.

Also, I must add. If you are traveling somewhere in the world that is known for a certain food dish, try it! At least a bite, you only live once and one of the fun parts of traveling is getting to try the local food. As seen in this photo from a recent work trip to Quebec, not pictured is all the poutine I ate and enjoyed without guilt.



Margaret Schlachter

About Margaret Schlachter

Margaret Schlachter is Founder of She has been part of the OCR Community since 2010. When not working on the next article she can be found running from race-to-race. She is Editor-in-Chief of She authored the book Obstacle Race Training.
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