As a major foodie, one of the main things I look forward to when traveling is indulging in a diversity of unique and often decadently unhealthy food. Though that’s still my MO at times, after several trips being ruined by sickness, I’ve realized the importance of fueling my body with optimal nutrition to stay healthy and energized while traveling. If you want to include some healthy options when you travel, it is completely doable but requires a little planning, so I’m here to help you map out a good plan!
These are my top 6 picks for restaurants that are transparent about their ingredients and have placed an emphasis on a nutritious menu. They all may have a few menu items that would not be considered healthy, but as compared to other chains, their ratio is more like 80/20 healthy/unhealthy rather than 20/80.
- Clean Eatz – They started in Wilmington, NC and now have 40+ locations throughout the US. Their menu includes pre-packaged meals with labeled macros that you can take to go, paleo fudge, sandwiches, protein smoothies, and several delicious salads. If you like to keep it simple, you can build your own bowl with just fresh veggies and a protein of your choice. My favorite menu item is the Good For You Nachos made with sweet potatoes (pictured above)! I visit often whenever I’m in South Carolina, and cannot wait until they open their location in my city (Greensboro, NC).
- Vitality Bowls Superfood Cafe – They operate in over 18 states after getting their start in California. They specialize in superfood Acai bowls, and other menu items include smoothies, fresh juices, soups, salads, and panini. All items on the menu are made fresh to order in a kitchen designed to avoid cross-contamination of common food allergens. No fillers such as ice, frozen yogurt, added sugar or artificial preservatives are used. I love their juices and paninis.
- CoreLife Eatery – They have over 50 locations across the US. Build your own bowl type of concept with good salads and bone broth bowls. They are free of GMOs, trans fats, artificial colors, sweeteners, and other artificial additives. I like the diversity of both raw and cooked ingredients they offer as building blocks for your meal and the fact that they encourage an active lifestyle.
- Zoe’s Kitchen – Mediterranean based chain that is ubiquitous all over the US at this point. I like that they list all the nutrition and allergen information for their menu items on their website. I love their chicken kabobs! They also have delicious grilled vegetables, salads, pita bread, and hummus.
- Chipotle – Easy to find in most states, this restaurant specializes in simple, fresh ingredients and allows you to build your own burrito, taco, salad or burrito bowl. My favorite thing to order is a chicken bowl with cilantro lime rice that is to die for. It’s nice to be able to see them cooking the ingredients and chopping the vegetables right in front of you. They also now offer bowls that cater to the keto, paleo and Whole30 diets. Just remember, guac is extra (but worth it).
- Viva Chicken – Currently has 13 locations in Utah, NC, and Delaware, with plans to expand. They specialize in Peruvian rotisserie chicken which is incredibly tender and packed with flavor. They have a wide variety of sides including plantains, yucca, fresh fruit and quinoa, but my favorites are the Peruvian rice and the corn salad. I also love their drink chicha morada, which is made out of purple corn and has savory spices like cinnamon in it! Definitely try their sauces!
Whether or not you’ll be able to visit one of these restaurants on your trip, it’s a good idea to pack healthy fuel ahead of time.
- I try to bring one snack for each day I will be gone. This tides me over if I’m in an area where I can’t find anything nutritious. Some of my favorites are Biltong, Epic Bars, trail mix, fruit, raw veggies, Hu dark chocolate, and hard-boiled eggs.
If you’re the type who takes spontaneous trips and doesn’t have time to do much healthy planning, you might need to navigate something good for you at a convenience store or gas station.
- Opt for the foods with the fewest ingredients and/or highest protein content. I usually look for fresh fruit or veggies/salads if they have them, but your next best bet would be things like jerky, nuts, plain Greek yogurt, and hummus.
I hope this list helps you as you plan for your next trip! If you’d like even more healthy suggestions for at home and on the go, be sure to check out my Amazon Storefront.
Please share your favorite healthy restaurant chains in the comments. I’m always looking to add more resources to my list!
Thanks for reading!
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