By Christine D’Angelo
How do I stay on track when I have to travel?
Traveling for work can be stressful, especially if you’re trying to maintain a specific eating plan, avoid certain foods or stick to your macros. Don’t despair, being away from home and eating out more than usual doesn’t mean you have to slide head first into a bowl of queso and chips! You can stay on track and feel great when you travel. Remember that first and foremost, food is fuel! Everything is a choice, you can make choices that will fuel your body and keep you feeling great!
Before you travel, Plan Ahead!!
Unless your trip is emergency or last minute notice, you should have some time to plan ahead.
- Request a hotel room with a refrigerator or book a hotel with a kitchen. This will allow you to keep snacks and beverages cold and maybe even cook breakfast for yourself to start the day off successfully. If your room doesn’t have a refrigerator, ask the front desk if they can put one in your room. They can and will often accommodate you.
- Do your research on the area – where is the nearest grocery store? Can you stop there on the way to your hotel and grab a few snacks, lemons for your morning water, coconut milk for your coffee?
- If you know where you will be eating, look at the menus ahead of time. This is especially helpful if you aren’t familiar with a local cuisine or specific restaurant.
- Nuts and nut butter (Justin’s Brand makes single serve packets that are super easy to pack and eat)
- Deli meats, cheeses and veggies (pick up at local grocery)
- Low sugar fruits – green apple, green tipped banana, strawberries
- Pork rinds (Epic brand chicharrones)
- If you have a kitchen make breakfast. You will save money and guarantee a great start to the day. Think eggs, meat, avocado maybe a little cheese if you can tolerate it.
- Drink some water with lemon. Hotels are often drying and you may end up dehydrated. Adding lemon will help flush the liver and boost your immune system with a little extra vitamin C.
- If your hotel has a continental breakfast you will be faced with highly processed carbs and sugary treats. Avoid these as they may set you up for cravings and hunger all day long.
- If you must meet colleagues for breakfast, have coffee or tea and choose eggs or even cheese and meat over bagels, cereals and pastries. If you packed nuts, you can eat some nuts or nut butter with lower sugar fruit.
Meals with colleagues?
People will be curious about why you pass on bread or why you are subbing out potatoes. You may not be supported and you may feel criticized. Know your ‘WHY’. Remember, this isn’t a “special” diet, this is YOU and this is how you eat. You can simply say that you feel better when you eat certain foods and avoid others and that you are committed to your health. You can say that you have an intolerance if you really feel pressured.
- Review the menu before hand. OpenTable and Yelp usually have menus available. If you already have an idea of what you’ll be ordering, you won’t be tempted to dive into a bowl of french fries.
- Never show up to meals HANGRY. Traveling stress and long meetings in an unfamiliar place with people you don’t know well can give you stress and prevent you from eating when you usually do or eating enough food. Have a glass of water with lemon and some nuts when you return to your room before dinner. This will take the edge off of your hunger, help you to stay hydrated and you won’t be starving when you get to dinner.
- Pass on the bread. Ask for veggie sticks or olives if you feel compelled to snack.
- Pass on appetizers, they are usually fried and covered in questionable sauces. Choose a salad with Olive oil and vinegar or a squeeze of lemon if you’re interested in an appetizer.
- Ask your waiter questions if something is unclear. Waiters are used to answering questions and should be able to tell you about how the food is prepared. Remember that baked, broiled or grilled are usually safe options. Ask for sauces on the side if you’re unsure.
- Sub out the potato/fries/rice for vegetables.
- Avoid excess alcohol. This will set you up for challenges the next day. If you don’t normally drink wine, now is not the time to share a bottle with your boss.
- Sip seltzer or water with lemon.
- If you are at a buffet luncheon or dinner, choose salad (ask for olive oil and vinegar), cold meats and veggies are usually available (if you can tolerate cheese, go for it), choose vegetables and meats that have minimal sauces (these sauces usually have junky oils or are flour based).
If you’re in a new locale and wish to sample the local flavors, choose something small and have a taste. Don’t say no if its something you’d really like to try. Everything is a choice. Be kind to yourself, try not to overindulge, but even if you do, don’t beat yourself up. This is a long life that we are living and consistently denying yourself can be just as destructive as poor food choices. Remember also that if your maintain your normal eating patterns and don’t let yourself get to that “i’m starving” moment, you are less likely to overindulge. In the end, we all need to love ourselves and create a healthy relationship with food. Set yourself up for success and you will succeed. Be sure to stock your fridge at home with some quality meats,veggies, fruit, eggs, and coconut milk… whatever you will need to get yourself back to normal at home. If you will be away for an extended period, why not have your groceries delivered when you return or to a neighbor so that you have some staples available when you return.
As a little aside, while traveling, be sure to get plenty of rest and get in a workout, take advantage of your hotel gym and move your body. If there is no gym, ask your coach for a hotel room workout. You don’t have to completely abandon your lifestyle and routine when you’re traveling, in fact it’s best to keep to your routine as much as possible so that you can be productive and feel good while working away from home.
Remember, love yourself, fuel your body and enjoy the journey!