As a regional sales manager, I travel every week and away from home about 3 days out of the week. I had to really learn and be disciplined to eat healthier while traveling because anyone traveling can easily fall into the trap of taking the easy route and make poor decisions when eating. I also enjoy traveling and take vacations internationally as well as domestically and the same challenges of having healthy eating options are harder to find and make then the un-healthy choices that are easily accessible everywhere. In this post, I will share how I eat healthier while traveling and share my best practices as I have learned through many trial and error.
TRAVEL DEPARTURE HEALTHY EATING
So lets begin on the morning of the travel day. I like to travel early in the morning, so that I don’t have to deal with the morning traffic jams and usually book early flights. Since the flights are usually at 6AM or 7AM, I have to wake up around 4AM to get to the airport on time. Luckily I live near an airport or I wouldn’t get any sleep. Now I have many different options when I leave and one of the option is to not eat because it is too early for me. I made it a habit to drink a glass of water and have one prepared on my nightstand the night before. I love coffee, so I either make a cup at home or pick up a cup at the airport if I have time. The last resort is to get a cup of coffee on the plane, which usually tastes horrible. Now this is the first challenge to eating healthy because we are in a rush to get to the airport and our choices for fast healthy eating is limited. This is where preparation comes in and is very important. You can either prepare a healthy to go breakfast to eat on the way to the airport or pick up something healthy when picking up your coffee. I usually try to eat some oatmeal or cereal prior to leaving my house, but if it is too early, I then grab an oatmeal bowl with fruit at the airport. If I miss both, then I wait until I arrive to get some breakfast in which is very important for healthy eating. So upon departure it comes down to preparation, healthy choices and having options. It is easy to grab an unhealthy amount of carbs or even grab a full sized breakfast at the airport, but everything is about portion control to have a balanced healthy diet.
MEALS ON THE ROAD
I am busy and have business to do everyday when I am on the road. I have learned that it is extremely easy to eat unhealthy and rather difficult to find healthy options while on the road. Mainly because I don’t have my home refrigerator handy and I am in unfamiliar areas where I do not know where the healthy choices are. When you add having a full schedule and business to attend to, our choices are limited and time is usually not a luxury provided for us. But to have the proper nutrition to fuel our bodies to do the work and to fuel our brains to think, we need to eat. The easy route is to pop into the drive through of the many fast food chains on every corner, or you can make the choice to eat healthy. I have found that supermarkets have great selection of salads and sandwiches and usually look for those as they are almost as abundant as the fast food restaurants. I can grab a nice coconut water drink, a salad and sandwich or switch things up and eat a slice of wood fire pizza, and the list goes on. Remember, portion size is important here and you might be thinking to yourself… PIZZA! Well, I did say slice and I mix that together with salad…OK! At the supermarket I can also pick up some healthy snacks and fruits that I can take to the hotel for healthy snacking and late night cravings. Another good tip is to buy large bottles of water instead of paying for the premium price for bottled water at the hotel. Water is a very important element of healthy eating and while traveling, we forget to hydrate ourselves on the road and at the hotel. Especially when flying, you get a small cup or two of water when the flight attendant does their service but when you fly, you can get very dehydrated, so having your own water and hydrating when you arrive is very important.
I sometimes entertain clients and lunch or dinner is usually involved, and this is where choice comes into play when making decisions for eating a healthy meal with a decent portion or doing the exact opposite and eating until your belly can’t take any more. Make the choice to select healthier selections and watch the portion size. I also don’t make each entertaining meal a full course meal with a full selection of appetizers, main course and then dessert. I reserve these full all out meals for special occasions. It is tough when you have an expense account and your client orders, but you can control yourself and eat a small bite and make your main choice a healthier choice. I usually skip dessert, unless of course it is a special occasion or if I am sharing a bite and opt for eating fruit for dessert.
FRUITS AND VEGGIES
Have you ever paid attention to how much fruit and vegetables you eat? Now many people have challenges eating fruits and vegetables at home, but when you add traveling on top of that, fruits and veggies are usually non-existent or very expensive. The tip I gave about going to the supermarket above really helps out as you can have a healthy carrot/celery snack or apple, pear fruit/veggie snack available while on the road or in your hotel room. If you also notice, our meals consist mainly of either meats and carbs and small amounts of healthy greens. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good steak now and then but vegetables and greens is an important aspect of healthy eating. So while traveling, you will find it hard but you can make healthy choices by eating salads over burgers and buying fruits to snack on. Make it a priority to have fruits and vegetables for each day you are traveling as this will help you eat a healthier and balanced diet.
Room service is easy since you don’t have to leave the room. This is kind of like a drive in option for you but for hotel guests. The choices are limited and usually not as healthy. You will always find steak or a burger and people might confuse the fish course as being healthy but the portion sizes are huge, the salads are bad and fruit is not a top item and usually sold at a premium. It is then worth your time to stop by a grocery store to stock up your room with the healthy options. If you have to order room service, make the healthy choices and remember to add those fruits and veggies.
It is a challenge to eat healthy while traveling and on the road. Heck, it is even a challenge when you are home. By making healthy choices and not taking the easy route, you can maintain a healthy balanced diet while on the road. Plan ahead, make healthy decisions and be prepared to eat healthy. It is tougher to do, but well worth the effort.