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  • Livia Ly, MS, RD, LDN

    Livia Ly is a cross-trained dietitian and founder of Nutrily, focusing on holistic nutrition for families. Promoting the six pillars of holistic health, Livia empowers clients to achieve health goals for a better life. She lives in Lincoln Park with her husband Kenny, son Lincoln (6), and daughter Liz (3).

    Fueling Healthy Adventures: Tips for Nurturing Picky Eaters on the Go


    Juggling picky eating during family travels requires creativity, preparation, and a dash of flexibility. By understanding the reasons behind picky eating while on the road, at the airport, or overseas, and implementing practical tips, you can transform mealtime into an opportunity for nutritional exploration. As a dietitian, my emphasis is on creating lasting memories of nourishing adventures for your child, ensuring they receive the nutrients their growing bodies need.

    Embarking on family adventures, such as road trips, airport travels, or exploring foreign lands, often poses the challenge of picky eating. A change in routine, exposure to new environments, and the availability of unfamiliar cuisines can all contribute to a child's resistance to trying new foods. As a registered dietitian, I emphasize the importance of healthy eating, consistent meal frequency, adequate protein and energy intake, and hydration while minimizing highly processed foods. In this article, we'll explore the reasons behind children's picky eating during travel and offer practical tips to ensure proper nutrition whether on a road trip, at the airport, or overseas. 

    Tips to Improve Eating Habits and Promote Nutrition on the Road, at the Airport, and Overseas

    • Create a Portable Pantry for Road Trips

    I advocate for planning by packing a cooler with ice packs and a variety of healthy snacks. Options like cut-up/whole fruits or vegetable sticks paired with a healthy dip like dark chocolate/regular hummus, plain Greek yogurt, or nut butter packs, along with single-serving packet choices such as yogurt-covered/plain raisins, applesauce, low sodium jerky, seaweed snacks, popcorn, dried mango, dates, mini energy bars, cheese sticks/balls, drinkable kefir, cheese/nut crackers, plain/dark chocolate pretzels, pistachios or dark chocolate almonds, and sunflower seeds can provide essential nutrients during long drives.  As a dietitian, I recommend avoiding excessive reliance on sugary treats, which can lead to energy spikes followed by crashes.

    • Airport Adventures

    Navigating airport dining can be challenging, but with thoughtful planning, it becomes manageable. Carry a mix of healthy snacks such as the ones mentioned above. Look for airport restaurants offering balanced options like salads, wraps, or grilled chicken. Whether you're on a road trip, at the airport, or overseas, having a stash of familiar, healthy snacks can be a game-changer. 

    • Hydration is Key

    I stress the importance of staying hydrated during travel. Carry reusable water bottles and encourage regular sips. Limit sugary drinks and opt for water or diluted 100% fruit juices.  Coconut water is also a great choice! Proper hydration is crucial for maintaining energy levels and overall well-being.

    • Balanced Fast Food Choices

    While on the road, fast food may be the most convenient option. However, as a dietitian, I recommend making mindful choices by selecting items with a balance of protein, fiber, and vitamins and minerals. Many fast-food establishments now offer healthier alternatives, such as grilled chicken options or salads.

    • Opt for Buffets or Family-Style Dining

    Choose restaurants that offer buffet or family-style dining options. This allows children to explore various dishes in smaller portions without feeling overwhelmed. It also gives them a sense of control over their meal choices.

    • Embrace International Flavors

    Traveling abroad provides a unique opportunity to expose your child to diverse cuisines. Encourage kids to try small portions of local dishes.  For food safety, focus on foods that are cooked thoroughly and filtered bottled water. Engaging in the cultural aspect of food can make the experience more enjoyable.

    • Explore Local Markets

    While overseas, immerse your family in the local food culture by exploring markets. Allow your child to pick out fresh fruits, vegetables, or local snacks. This not only promotes healthy eating but also provides an exciting cultural experience.

    • Maintain Routine with Time Zone Changes

    If traveling across time zones, try to maintain a consistent mealtime routine as much as possible. This helps regulate your child's hunger and ensures they receive the nutrients their growing bodies need.

    • Set a Healthy Example

    Children often model their behavior after their parents. Demonstrate the importance of nutrition by making mindful food choices yourself. If they see you enjoying a variety of nutritious foods, they may be more inclined to do the same.

    Juggling picky eating during family travels requires creativity, preparation, and a dash of flexibility. By understanding the reasons behind picky eating while on the road, at the airport, or overseas, and implementing practical tips, you can transform mealtime into an opportunity for nutritional exploration. As a dietitian, my emphasis is on creating lasting memories of nourishing adventures for your child, ensuring they receive the nutrients their growing bodies need.



    Livia Ly, MS, RD, LDN

    Livia Ly is a cross-trained dietitian and founder of Nutrily, focusing on holistic nutrition for families. Promoting the six pillars of holistic health, Livia empowers clients to achieve health goals for a better life. She lives in Lincoln Park with her husband Kenny, son Lincoln (6), and daughter Liz (3).





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