Make it your business to eat smart
People who think that travelling for work is glamorous have not spent much time traveling for work! Many hours are spent in boardrooms, conference centres and hotels, which leaves little time for sightseeing. It also disrupts regular healthy routines, like eating home-cooked meals, exercising and sleeping well.
If you travel for your job, you know how hard that work-life balance can be. Here are some tips to ensure you can manage your healthy lifestyle when you’re on the run.
At the airport
Go for a walk: Unless you’re that person who is running towards the gate with five minutes to spare (don’t be that person), you have ample time at the airport to go for a walk. You’re indoors (so it’s not too hot or too cold), you have tons of space, and you have time to kill. Perfect. Download a step-counting app and see how many miles you can clock before you’re in the air.
Have a snack: It’s always smart to bring your own airplane snacks from home. Remember to avoid liquids – airport security will toss them out. And I know from experience that they consider nut butter to be liquid!
If you don’t pack your own snacks, you can find nourishing options at the airport. Try any of these:
- Greek yogurt
- Packaged nuts and seeds
- Trail mix (without yogurt-coated raisins, candies or fried bits)
- Fresh fruit
- Individual portions of cheese
- Nut & fruit bars
At the hotel
Walk for groceries: When you arrive at the hotel and get your suitcases settled, ask the concierge where the closest grocery store is. It’s usually within walking distance, and is a great first stop (if it’s not, take a taxi). Stock up on healthy snacks (see list above). Bring some resealable bags or containers from home, so you can turn your groceries into pre-portioned snacks for the long days ahead.
Get a fridge: Book a hotel that offers an in-room mini fridge, so you can pack it with your own snacks. If it’s filled with chocolate and whisky that you can’t resist, ask the hotel staff to remove the goodies (out of sight is out of mind).
Find the gym: Choose a hotel that offers free use of their gym or swimming pool (most do). No gym? If the hotel has free Wi-Fi (most do), you can use your laptop or phone to watch yoga or aerobic videos. Bonus points if the hotel lends you weights, yoga mats or other fitness equipment that you can use right in your hotel room.
At your meals
Travel doesn’t mean that all of your routines are over, but you don’t need to be extremely rigid either. Allow some leniency with food and fitness, and acknowledge that you will do the best you can. You can’t control everything (believe me, I’ve tried!)
Breakfast: It’s easy to start the day out right, since most hotels have nutritious breakfast options like oatmeal, yogurt, fruit, hard boiled or scrambled eggs, whole grain toast, cheese, milk or soy beverages. Of course, it’s also easy to hit the buffet for hash browns, bacon, donuts and Danishes. I like to save my indulgences for later in the day, since I don’t know what the menus will be.
Lunch: If you’re at a meeting and lunch is catered, it’s likely going to be tossed salad and sandwiches. Fill half your plate with vegetables, and get some protein and whole grains (if possible). That fiber + protein combo will keep you energized for the afternoon. Consider toting a little bag of salad toppings (almonds, raisins, roasted chickpeas, pistachios, hemp seeds, etc.) to turn the lack-lustre lettuce into a crunchy delight.
Dinner: This is usually the big one. It’s either room service because you’re exhausted, or dinner with work people. Try something new or a local specialty. Fill half your plate with vegetables again, and don’t be shy about asking for substitutions or extra vegetables. You don’t need to eat anything you don’t want to, so don’t let workmates pressure you. You manage you. And enjoy it.
Treats: It’s fun to sample local delicacies if you choose to! Food is about pleasure and enjoyment, but too much sugar, fat and salt can take its toll and leave you feeling sluggish (especially if it’s not how you usually eat). Pace yourself and enjoy some treats, but not for every meal and snack.
Stretch, move and hydrate
Stay well on your business trips with these additional strategies:
- Always have a water bottle handy. Sip all day.
- Stretch! Change positions during long flights and meetings, and go for a walk when you can.
- Carry nutritious snacks to tide you over during long meetings.
- Eat when you’re hungry – not due to stress, boredom or social pressure.
- If you drink alcohol, have no more than one (for women) or two (for men) a day.
- Pack running shoes.
Finally, promise yourself that you will take time to walk to at least ONE tourist destination. Take a selfie when you get there!
Cara’s book, Nourish: Whole Food Recipes featuring Seeds, Nut and Beans, is available on Amazon.
Move beyond calories
Make eating real food Just Routine
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