In August, I was quoted in SELF magazine about how I stay fit while traveling so much. Well, I have always been fit – but I have to admit, that when I gave my advise to the editor, I was a few pounds overweight and scarfing down meat at every meal.

After my week at Optimum Health Institute (you can read my Detox Diva blog) I learned that you really “Are what you eat.” And I lost 9.5 pounds eating only raw vegan food for a week!

Since my visit in July, I have cut out fried food, avoid dairy products, reduced my intake of meat (I still eat some, but not like I used to), and I don’t drink as much as I used to (unless it’s really good champagne!). But now, when I look back on what I told SELF magazine (eat a big burrito with egg and cheese) I feel a bit bad because I would not eat that now!

So, when I met Mel, I was intrigued with her philosophy about food and travel. Here is what she had to say about eating healthy while traveling:

1. Always pack extra snacks, for example granola bars, little bags of cereal, dried fruit, nuts, protein/breakfast bars, etc. I always do this so that if I am ever in a meeting or am too busy to go out to lunch, I know I won’t go hungry. Also, when traveling to a new place, sometimes it takes a little time to find a great place to eat (when I was last in Rome on a Sunday a lot of the local places were closed–determined not to eat at a touristy restaurant, I spent A LOT of time roaming around and asking people for suggestions, thus a snack was definitely necessary!). If you have a couple of snacks in your purse to munch on, you will have more time to find what you really want without letting your blood sugar drop too much and without becoming moody or lethargic. Breakfast bars are a good thing to drink because, especially with the economy, money can be tight. Rather than paying for a gourmet breakfast, it is sometimes better to eat a bar and spend money later on dinner or drinks with friends.

2. Make sure to have something to eat on the plane. Plane food has gone down a lot in quality over the years either leaving the consumer with something mushy and unidentifiable or with some chips and a turkey sandwich. When you fly, it is great to have the above snacks packed, but also to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or grab a sandwich or salad from a local restaurant before getting to the airport. Once you land, you will be so happy to have a taste from home and you will have enough energy to at least get you to the hotel!

3. If you are a vegetarian, a great website is This site will give you a list of almost all vegetarian restaurants and healthy food stores anywhere in the world. When I studied abroad I was a vegan and this website guided me through Italy, France, The Netherlands, Scottland, London, etc.

4. When you go to business dinners or dinners with friends where you can’t eat much, always choose to eat side dishes like vegetables and maybe beans for protein or some salmon (if you eat fish). After dinner you can always eat one of your bars or eat some of the trail mix you brought. Not the best option, but at least you won’t starve!

5. A great way to explore a city is to ask people for restaurant recommendations–by the time you have walked to the restaurant (assuming you are in a walking city and it is safe, of course), you will have seen so much. Also, exploring local restaurants and/or markets will give you a more local experience.

A little about Mel:

She graduated college in 2006 and having always been interested in healthy living, and a vegetarian since she was 6 years old (with 2 1/2 years as a strict vegan), Mel knew she wanted to do something with food. Mel has always worked in the food industry, including managing a macrobiotic restaurant. Since food is her passion, along with travel, healthy living, exercise, etc., She wanted to create an outlet where people like her could find information that made nutrition fun, while simultaneously connecting with others who shared their same views and passions. Thus, melslife was born. All in all, she lives to eat, not eats to live!