Travelling for business – or pleasure – can take a toll on healthy eating habits. Factors at play are lack of sleep, high-calorie, grab-and-go restaurant meals, and hectic schedules. And, when you’re away from home, temptation is sure to set in.
If you tend to worry about your food health on the road, you’re not alone. Research has shown that frequent business travellers were more than twice as likely to be obese than those who travelled at most six days each month. Extensive travellers were also more likely to have high blood pressure and unfavourable cholesterol levels.
Though it can be difficult to maintain a healthy food and drink diet on the road, it’s not impossible.
Canadian registered dietitian, Leslie Beck, comes to the rescue with her smart eating strategies that will help you fuel your body to get the energy you need and without the excess calories (Hint: peanuts can help!).
- • Pack your snacks. Whether you’re driving or flying, bring a stockpile of healthy, non-perishable snacks in your briefcase or carry-on bag to fill nutrient gaps and curb hunger when you’re in transit or between meetings.
- • Manage alcohol. A few cocktails at a client reception or business dinner adds unwanted calories and weakens your resolve to make smart food choices. Alcohol also reduces REM sleep, the deepest stage that’s involved in memory. At business functions, decide in advance to have only one or two drinks. Don’t let servers keep refilling a half-empty glass.
- • Eat breakfast. Skipping breakfast sets the stage for hunger and cravings during the day. If ordering from a hotel menu, yogurt, berries and granola, oatmeal, poached eggs on whole-grain toast or an egg-white omelette with fruit salad are good choices. At a coffee shop, opt for an egg-white sandwich, oatmeal topped with dried fruit or nuts, yogurt parfait, whole-grain English muffin with peanut butter or, at Starbucks, a Protein Bistro Box.
- • Pump up the protein. Make protein – not carbohydrates – the focus of your meals. Protein-rich foods, such as lean meat, chicken breast, fish, egg whites, tofu and Greek yogurt provide tyrosine, an amino acid that prompts the brain to manufacture norepinephrine and dopamine neurotransmitters that keep you alert. For a protein boost, try to find a peanut butter-based vinaigrette for salads.
- • Bring your greens. It’s a challenge to get seven to 10 fruit and vegetable servings while away on business. Pack small baggies of powdered greens (e.g., Vega Protein & Greens, Genuine Health Greens+). Stir two teaspoons into juice, a latte, yogurt or oatmeal.
- • Visit a grocery store. During an extended stay, ask for a mini fridge in your hotel room. Find a local grocery store so you can stock it with fruit, milk, yogurt, peeled hard-boiled eggs, baby carrots and hummus. A a serving size of dry roasted, unsalted peanuts (60 mL or ¼ cup) contains no sodium or cholesterol, and will help satisfy hunger cravings.
- • Go easy on caffeine. Drinking coffee boosts alertness and mental focus. But caffeine also increases cortisol, a stress hormone that, when chronically elevated, revs up appetite and sugar cravings and triggers fat storage. Stick to one cup of caffeinated coffee a day. Drink decaf or switch to tea, which has considerably less caffeine than coffee (45 milligrams versus 100-175 milligrams per 8 ounces).
- • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water while travelling, especially on long flights. Low humidity and recirculating cabin air can cause dehydration, which zaps your energy and concentration and worsens jet lag. Drink 250 millilitre of water for every hour of flight.
- • Use a mobile app. Check out To make you stop and think about what you’re eating between meetings, track your food intake with an app such as MyFitnessPal, Lose It! or MyNetDiary. If you travel to the United States, an app can help you find healthy menu choices at restaurants and airport terminals (e.g., HealthyOut, Find Me Gluten Free, GateGuru).
Source: The Globe and Mail