Eating healthy on the road is a challenge and making a wise choice instead of an unhealthy one isn’t always easy. Although an occasional business trip doesn’t necessarily have a huge impact, traveling regularly can do some major damage. The best thing you can do to maintain a reasonable travel diet is to be prepared. Here are some tips:
- Stay Hydrated: Hydration is essential to a travel diet. Caffeinated beverages, soft drinks and those beverages that are artificially sweetened can cause dehydration. A wise choice is bottled water or even better, bring your own refillable BPA-Free Better Bottle so that you can stay hydrated all day.
- Eat Breakfast: A travel diet should include an energizing breakfast every morning. It helps you stay productive throughout the day. A wise choice for breakfast includes something with lean protein (egg whites), complex carbohydrates (multi-grain toast), and fruit. The protein will keep you feeling full, while the complex carbs and fruit provide fiber. Fruit also provides tons of vitamins and minerals which help your body function properly.
- Pack Snacks: Eating healthy on the road means being prepared for those times when you have minimal options or are short on time. A wise choice for a snack is a nutrition bar. They are easy to pack and are often nutritionally balanced. Personally, I often pack one or two nutrition bars per trip day.
- Drink Moderately: There is nothing wrong with a glass of wine at dinner, especially after a long day. However, limit yourself to one or two drinks per day. More than that can add unwanted calories, disrupt sleep patterns and add to dehydration.
- Pass on the Bread: Most restaurants don’t use whole grain flour for their bread, but rather more refined and processed flours, which causes the bread to have virtually no nutritional value. This adds tons of empty calories to an already indulgent travel diet. Either resist the urge to have the bread when it comes, or if you are dining alone, tell the waiter/waitress that you don’t want any brought to the table.
- Keep Meals Balanced: A travel diet should be balanced with whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats (monounsaturated and Omega-3s) at every meal.
- Monitor Portions: Eating healthy on the road is difficult when we are constantly dining at restaurants. An optimal travel diet should always take portion sizes into consideration. Here are a couple of ways to keep them in check:
- Ordering: Order two items from the appetizer menu instead of an entrée. Or, another wise choice would be to order a salad as an entrée. Salads can be healthier options, but avoid those that contain a lot of cheese or nuts…and always ask for the dressing on the side. Also, the salad should come with lean protein and if it doesn’t, ask for grilled chicken or fish to balance out the meal.
- Share: If you feel comfortable in doing so, suggest sharing an entrée with a travel companion/business colleague. Explain that you are maintaining a healthier travel diet and don’t want to overdo it, or use the excuse that you aren’t too hungry.
- Visualize, Cut and Save: If sharing isn’t an option, visualize an appropriate serving of your meal (E.g., a deck of cards for your protein, one cup of pasta or one small potato, and a cup of vegetables) and physically pre-cut the portion . Most hotel rooms come with mini-fridge. If you are at a suites hotel or extended stay hotel, you may have a full kitchen, which will allow you to reheat your food the next day or night.
- Visualize, Cut and Salt: As much as I hate wasting food, if you order an entrée that is too big and don’t have a mini-fridge to store leftovers, use salt. As above, visualize and cut off reasonable portions of your meal and then pour an unpalatable amount of salt on top of what is leftover. This will make the food inedible.
What do you do to make eating healthy on the road easier and your travel diet healthier?