Eating a balanced and healthful diet at home can be easy, but eating healthfully while traveling can be a whole other monster! Traveling or even just a fast paced life style can be a quick downfall to a proper eating routine. Here are a few steps you can take to stay on track while on the go!
- Eat on the clock
One of the most effective ways I have found to fight the “boredom appetite” that comes from sitting on long flights and walking by a million Cinnabon restaurants in the airport is to eat on the clock. I always space out my meals and snacks as if I were eating at home. I have a meal every 3-4 hours with a small snack between each meal. By watching the clock, I can tell the difference between my body needing calories and my mind wanting calories. I have also found eating based on time helpful for resetting my internal clock when traveling across time zones.
- Key words on the menu
Traveling always includes more restaurant stops than any of us would like to admit. Although usually delicious, restaurant meals typically include massive amounts of salt, fat and/or carbohydrates. To avoid preserving my organs and loosing all of my hard earned gym gains, I look for key words on the menu that narrow my selection to the most healthful options. Look for meals described as “baked,” “grilled,” or “seared.” These will always be less calorie dense than their fried counter parts. Also look for menus offering a “better choice section.” These can help point you towards healthier options without the temptations of reading through the rest of the menu.
- Protein first
When choosing my meals on the go, I always aim for options offering a protein as the largest portion of the meal. By choosing protein first, you will always be lead to red meat, chicken or fish. Not only will these options be more filling in smaller portions, but you will also avoid the excessive carbohydrate intake from pastas, pizzas and breads. After choosing my protein, I always make sure there is at least one vegetable on my plate. Sometimes that means asking for an exchange on your fries or an up charge, but what is more important, $2 or your health?
- Use conscious eating habits
Conscious eating habits are a series of steps you can take to make sure you notice the quantity of food you are consuming. If you tend to over eat at a restaurant or if you don’t feel satisfied after a full portion of food, try following some of these habits.
Put your fork down between bites
Chew each bite 20x before swallowing
Don’t watch a TV or phone while eating
Sit down to eat
Only cut 3 bites at a time
- Pack your snacks
Healthy snack options in an airport or gas station can be few and far between. With the majority of on-the-go stores being filled with nuts, chips, cookies and candy, you may find yourself eating a full day’s worth of calories in a single sitting. The best way to avoid this is to pack your own snacks. I don’t enjoy eating any pre-cooked foods in tuber ware while I am flying around, so I aim for raw veggies with balsamic salad dressing for dipping, beef jerky and (low-sugar) Detour protein bars. If packing your own snacks isn’t an option for you, aim to use the “protein first” approach when choosing your snacks in the store.
Supplements can be a lifesaver when you constantly have to eat out of a bag or struggle to find healthy options. I always bring 2 supplements with me, my multivitamin and my protein (isolate). My multivitamin helps fill the gaps in my micronutrient consumption from the lack of greens in my diet. When I am traveling, I typically double my intake to be sure I keep up a strong immune system. My protein always gives me a quick fix for when I am unable to get to a meal. Whether it’s a long plane ride or waiting on my paintball team to go eat, I always have a chance to feed my muscles with a protein shake!
- Don’t drink your calories
Whether you’re driving or flying a few hours, it seems like a mocha latte Americano frappe de crap is great option to keep you awake. It’s not! Many of those coffee alternatives and energy drinks are chock full of calories and sugar. If you are looking for an extra boost on the go, stick to the basics. Black coffee or espresso can provide plenty of caffeine to get you where you need to go without the extra caloric damage. You can also try mints or chewing mint gum for extra alertness without the extra caffeine.
Bring a water bottle! Drinking water while traveling can seem like a chore, but water is especially important while traveling. Recirculating air from the AC in a car or a sealed plane can dehydrate you. Dehydration cannot only make you feel tired or groggy, but also inhibit your ability to breakdown food. Be sure to bring your own water to make sure you are able to drink enough throughout your trip.