Have Health, Will Travel

Many folks that I teach bite their nails due to the anxiety of traveling.  They are not sure about how to manage their diet when traveling.  Whether it is for business or pleasure, folks who have developed healthy eating habits find it a struggle to maintain those habits on the road.

Here is my number one tip for healthy people who travel: PLAN!!!  In today’s environment there is a fast food joint on every corner.  This certainly doesn’t make it easier for us to eat healthy. But planning isn’t necessarily for the folks trying to keep the pounds off.  It’s also for folks with specialized diets, ie. Vegetarians, gluten-free, etc.  Planning your meals will help you determine what you are willing do that is healthy and what you willing to splurge on.

  • Get a room with access to a mini refrigerator or microwave.  You can certainly make your own meals and keep perishables this way.  Make your own oatmeal in the morning with hot water from the coffee machine.  I saw a blog discussion about one person who made their own vegan pancake/waffle dry mix and just needed water to make the batter.  He then asked the hotel to pour his pancake mix onto their grill, which the hotel was happy to do.
  • Use the internet.  Scope out local restaurants in the area you will visit.  Compared to 20 years ago, more chain restaurants can now accommodate your specialized meal needs.  Big chain restaurants also have menus online with the nutrition information so you can make informed decisions about what to eat.
  • Pack a cooler.  If you are on a road trip, pack your own food and snacks, especially drinks, such as water.  I had a couple who told me that their state-to-state trip went well because they packed their own food, such as apples, oranges, and nuts.  Otherwise, they would have had fries, chips and cookies on their road trip.  Could have lead to a dietary disaster!
  • Plan for physical activity.  Most cities are great for pedestrians.  If not, see if the hotel you are staying at has a pool or gym facility.  Cruises always have those facilities.  Stretch bands are another way to do some resistance exercises.  They are light weight and portable. The concierge at the hotel can always recommend safe, convenient walking routes.
  • Plan what to eat at the airport.  Once again, most airports are online and can tell you what food facilities are there at the terminal.  However, you can always pack a nutritional bar or some dried fruit.
  • At buffets, make only one trip through the line.  OK, Vegas folks, you know who you are.  What happens in Vegas, doesn’t always stay in Vegas!
  • Use your PDA (personal digital assistant).  Track your exercise and food behaviors.  It will help you become responsible for your actions.  You wouldn’t want to ruin all your hard work.
  • Go ahead and enjoy the local specialties.  Consider ordering a smaller portion or an appetizer of the regional favorite.  Ordering an a la carte option is an easy way to enjoy the food but not the extra calories.
  • Lastly, practice polite resistance.  Be sure to rehearse how you will resist pressures to have a drink, a dessert, or other foods you don’t plan on eating.  This takes practice!

Here are the comments from one aerospace executive:

“I learned to say ‘No thanks, if I eat too much, I get sleepy and this meeting is too important to miss.’”

About Sharon M., MS RD

As a registered dietitian and a master gardener, I know the healing power of food. Nothing has given me more satisfaction than growing my own food. I have experience working in the public health field, including school districts. I have worked with pregnant moms, children, diabetics, and bariatric patients. I emphasis a plant-based, whole food diet. Yet, I appreciate the movement of eating sustainably, while hoping folks appreciate the bean as a source of protein. "To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art." - Francois de La Rochefoucauld "Feeding is going well if both you and yor child are having a good time." -Ellyn Satter
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