Worlds Collide: Healthy Eating on the Road

Hello friends! Long time! I have been craaaaaazy busy with so many things, including lots of travel, a busy work schedule, and a busy social life! I was away for a week in Puerto Rico for pleasure, and in Denver for a long weekend for work before that. October basically flew by before I even knew what was happening, and now somehow we are almost half way through  November. I digress.

Yesterday at my day job, I gave a presentation on Healthy Eating on the Road. You may remember I did another presentation on Healthy Lunch Options a while ago, and it was kind of crazy to be at my day job talking about healthy living stuff, since those two worlds rarely cross paths. But yesterday, they did again.

I opened up the presentation with asking about what is challenging about being healthy when traveling. Everyone was in agreement that it’s definitely difficult and people were pouring out their ideas for why. Here are the challenges we identified:

  1. Lack of healthy options and not being as familiar with the options as you are at home.
  2. Wanting to enjoy new food as part of the travel experience.
  3. Time constraints/stress lead to limited time for exercise/making healthy choices.
  4. Social influences/drinking more than when at home.
  5. Lack of control over the menu/not knowing what is in the food that you’re eating (catered meals/restaurants)
  6. Kids.
  7. Portion control when eating out.
  8. Food being around all the time.
  9. Vacation mentality. (Feeling like you deserve to eat everything).
  10. Being out of your routine.
  11. Budget (healthy options cost more)
  12. Cultural Challenges (ie. not being able to turn down a 10 course meal)
  13. No scale to check in on your weight.

Originally I wanted to go through the challenges one by one and identify the tips and tricks that might work for each, but in the interest of time, we only got to a few. Here are the tips that we came up with:

  1. Do some research before you go so you can identify some accessible spots to eat and locate a grocery/convenience store not far from where you’re staying.
  2. Bring a water bottle, healthy non-perishable snacks, and workout clothes with you no matter what.
  3. Ask the staff/server at a restaurant or hotel what’s in the food and/or how it is prepared if you don’t know.
  4. Ask the hotel to put a refrigerator in your room before you get there so you can stock up on some healthy staples.
  5. Focus on eating a lot of the local fruit and veggies as part of the experience.
  6. Pay attention to portion control when you’re having heavier dishes and have less control over what you’re eating.
  7. In general, simpler foods where you can identify what is in it tend to be better for you than dishes where you can’t.
  8. 10 minutes of exercise can be enough. If you don’t have time for a full workout, just do some pushups, sit-ups, and/or jumping jacks. You can get a great workout and it doesn’t require any equipment and not much time, either.
  9. Carry healthy snacks with you so that you don’t let yourself get ravenous. Being ravenous is the worst way to be if you want to make healthy choices.
  10. Realize that just because you’re eating out for every meal does NOT mean every meal is a celebration. Sometimes it’s just lunch.
  11. Choose one between bread, dessert, and booze when dining out.
  12. Take a look at all the options before you choose what you put on your plate. That way you can make room for what you really want.
  13. Ask for half your meal to be wrapped up before they even bring it out to the table.
  14. Order two appetizers instead of a full meal for your entrée.
  15. Physically put yourself away from the food if it’s out all day. If it’s within arm’s reach, you’ll tend to eat a lot more than if you have to get up to reach it.
  16. Choose your splurges wisely. Ask yourself, “is this really the best cookie/brownie/etc I can get? Is it worth it to eat it just because it’s there?”
  17. Treat yourself with things other than food. Maybe go see a museum, exhibit, or show in the town you’re traveling as a treat instead.
  18. Plan a splurge meal for towards the end of your trip so help keep you on track leading up to the splurge.
  19. Stay within your routine as much as possible, even though you are in a different location.
  20. Take extra whole fruit from the breakfast buffet for later.
  21. A lot of hotel gyms are equipped with a scale, but use your clothes as a gauge instead if you can’t find one.

Lots of good stuff!

Do you struggle with being healthy when traveling? What’s your biggest tip for staying on track?



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14 Comments on Worlds Collide: Healthy Eating on the Road

  1. jacksht
    November 12, 2013 at 10:24 am (8 months ago)

    Here’s my best tip for not overeating while traveling: be sure and go to restaurants you don’t like and order food that you hate.

    Reply
  2. JenB
    November 12, 2013 at 12:58 pm (8 months ago)

    I struggle enough with eating at home … I dread trips (for more issues than just the food, although that is a big part of the anxiety). We are homebodies, so it actually doesn’t come up that much. Last summer the hubby planned a vacation … and I stayed home. There were a few different issues, but one very real one was my current success with my weight loss and I just knew I’d gain 10 pounds back if I went for a week.

    Reply
  3. katie@thecarbmonster (@thecarbmonster)
    November 12, 2013 at 2:01 pm (8 months ago)

    Loving these tips! I usually give up the week of a trip just knowing it will be hard. Love this approach to change my mindset!

    Reply
  4. Confessions of a Fat Chick
    November 12, 2013 at 6:29 pm (8 months ago)

    I never eat well when I travel. The break in routine breaks me. These are some great tips. I’ll have to keep them in mind next time I go out of town.

    Reply
  5. Joyce
    November 14, 2013 at 1:24 am (8 months ago)

    I take dessert home for breakfast in hotel room. I stay really busy on vacation so dessert for breakfast with caffeine of choice usually keeps me going until a local snack in afternoon and then a late dinner. I often do more snacks or ala carte or appetizer in place of meals so can try more local fare.
    I take dehydrated veggies: okra and carrots and dried fruit in case I can’t get to a grocery store for fresh fruit. Apples pack well. Also oatmeal for breakfast or mixed with peanut butter powder and cocoa and small bit of milk for a power snack.

    Reply
  6. Erika
    November 17, 2013 at 4:57 am (8 months ago)

    I try to avoid eating out as much as possible, it takes away the control you have over your diet, it’s hard to know how many calories are in the meals you order.

    Reply
  7. Monica
    November 25, 2013 at 2:42 pm (8 months ago)

    Thanks for the great tips! I usually don’t have trouble staying busy on vacations with my 6 year old. But for work trips, I usually bring a workout dvd – more cardio oriented so I don’t have to carry bands. If I eat more than I should, I have to do a work out.

    Reply
  8. Steven Le
    November 27, 2013 at 8:00 am (8 months ago)

    ‘Realize that just because you’re eating out for every meal does NOT mean every meal is a celebration. Sometimes it’s just lunch.’

    That is so true! Although I must admit I fall victim to this far too often! For some reason, inside my head, every time I eat out it’s a feast! But after reading that I will consciously think about it the next time I eat out!

    Thanks!

    Reply
  9. Sara Stewart
    November 27, 2013 at 10:14 pm (8 months ago)

    I spent many years travelling and the weight gain and general health loss was a disaster that still haunts me – eating junk on the run in fact. Worst was airports and next was business functions – I wonder I survived. Love your tips and thanks!

    Reply
  10. Ariane
    December 9, 2013 at 6:45 am (8 months ago)

    It can sometimes feel impossible to follow through with a decision even if you know your life will be a million times better if you do it. Your conscious and subconscious needs to be cleared of self-sabotaging thoughts and beliefs and replaced with those that help you get up and move towards your life goal.

    Coaching Meditations are the easiest and quickest way to rewire your thinking and choose a thinner and healthier you. ‘ME Fit’ and ‘ME Thin’ by http://www.me-system.com are great at increasing your determination when it comes to exercise and ensuring you make the right nutritional decisions when you’re hungry.

    Reply
  11. Amy
    December 13, 2013 at 6:05 pm (7 months ago)

    Hi Beth. For me, there’s a difference between travelling for work versus vacation time. Work wise, I can usually manage to do okay – it’s the peer pressure thing going on maybe. Vacation however, I tend to overindulge because, after all, it’s vacation. I find it helps if I remind myself that I want to stay healthy and active so I can enjoy vacation time for many years ahead – but more practically, I also do a fair bit of planning. I know my weaknesses and avoid becoming too hungry – always carry some fresh fruit in my purse and work on keeping the blood sugar level more even.

    Reply
  12. Sammy
    January 6, 2014 at 9:24 am (7 months ago)

    I’ve just got back from 3 months in Thailand and I found that the best way to deal with overeating is to count calories. If I kept my calories low I could eat smart and try new foods quite often :)

    Reply
  13. Emil
    January 21, 2014 at 3:45 pm (6 months ago)

    Counting calories and keeping some fruits on me work pretty well usually.

    Reply

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