By Sarah Castellanos, dietetic intern
So you travel constantly for work and one day while you’re home you decide to step on the scale for the first time in about a year. Shocked, you pick your jaw up off the floor and quickly rack your brain for how that number could have gotten so high!
If your job requires you to travel or you’re about to embark on a family vacation, it can be really hard to stick to a healthy eating plan when you are always stuck at the airport or in a hotel room living out of a suitcase. Here are some things you can do to prepare yourself ahead of time and also some tips to keep in mind while you’re away:
First, stock up on healthy food items that travel well and aren’t going to get you in a mess at security. Leave extra room in your suitcase or carry-on for things like beef jerky, hard-boiled eggs, oatmeal, nuts, protein bars, or even whole durable fruits like apples and oranges. Just make sure it’s not anything that is going to spoil quickly or make a mess because there’s nothing worse than a squished banana or a mixed berry explosion! While waiting to board your plane, munch on one of these snacks instead of some chips or candy from the convenience mart.
Second, get to know your airports ahead of time. If you plan on eating a full meal while at the airport, take to the Internet to look up what restaurants are offered at each of the airports you know you will be traveling through. Once you know what your options are, you can do some research to find out which restaurant you can make a healthy decision at but that you also know you will enjoy. At Starbucks try the steel-cut oatmeal for 150 calories. At McDonald’s try an Egg McMuffin for 300 calories or a Grilled Chicken Ranch Snack Wrap for 270 calories. These are just a few examples but most places these days offer some type of lighter option. It can be dangerous to play a guessing game so that’s why it’s important to look items up ahead of time. The Calorie King is a great book to purchase for looking up nutrient content of thousands of foods. Then, after you’ve decided what works best for you, come up with a plan and stick to it. This will make you less likely to head straight for the giant cinnamon rolls or double cheeseburgers!
Third, make sure you book a hotel that has a fitness room and make a commitment to use it! Bring your tennis shoes and workout clothes with you and don’t make excuses. Schedule time in your day for exercise. Hate the monotony of running on the treadmill or lifting weights? Maybe your hotel has a pool and you can bring your swimsuit and spend some time swimming laps! Still hate that idea? Pack some resistance bands in your suitcase and use them while watching TV in the comfort of your own room!
Lastly, make work about work not about eating. If you have a meeting with a client at restaurant, make health conscious decisions when ordering and while dining. If you’re at a steak house look for “loin” or “round” cuts of meat. If you’re at a Mexican restaurant, sit far away from the chips and salsa or even request they do not bring any out. The same goes for Italian restaurants that may bring out bread and butter. These calories add up quick! Regardless of whatever restaurant you end up at, request a to-go box at the start of the meal. Once you get your food, immediately put half of it in the box. This way you can control how much you eat and save the rest for dinner!
Remember, healthy eating is a lifestyle. Keep these tips in mind the next time you start getting ready for a trip and don’t make excuses. Come up with a plan before you leave and you are more likely to stick to it and know what to do in any situation. You can do it!