With your busy career, eating nutritious well-balanced meals isn’t always easy. Couple this with unhealthy airport food, indulgent client dinners and the late night temptation of room service, and your normally healthy habits can tend to derail! But with careful planning and some smarter food choices, ‘business trip blowouts’ can be avoided. Here are some valuable tips on eating healthy while travelling.
We all know skipping breakfast is not a great way to start the day. Not least because it will leave you hungry for the rest of the day, which means you’ll probably be tempted to turn to junk food.
If you’re going to skip anything, avoid a breakfast ‘fry up’ before you travel and instead opt for a balance of carbohydrates, good fats and proteins that will keep you feeling full. Choose toast that’s full of grains, and rather than reaching for the sugary cereals, try a piece of fruit instead. Proteins will also keep you feeling fuller for longer, so fill up on things like eggs and mushrooms, which can help you avoid snacking in between meals.
When it comes to healthy eating while travelling, it’s worth watching your caffeine intake as well. Yes, it can give you an instant ‘hit’, however, too much caffeine can also leave you feeling dehydrated. Enjoy your morning coffee without feeling guilty then switch to water or herbal teas later on in the day.
In order to stay healthy while travelling, preparation is key. Airport and airline snacks are often processed and full of salt and unhealthy fats, but it’s hard not to be tempted, particularly when you’re short on time.
The solution? Pre-pack healthy options before you go! Wholegrain crackers with a spread of vitamin B-rich Vegemite or popcorn with a sprinkle of seasoning will satisfy savoury food fans. As will a few slices of low-fat cheese, or a handful of nuts. Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, peanuts … nuts are full of fibre, protein and healthy fats and because they’re a low GI food, are surprisingly filling.
If you really want to up the health factor, fill a zip-top bag full of raw vegetables, including things like baby carrots, snap peas and celery sticks, and pair with a healthy dip such as hummus. Or for a gourmet snack-on-the-go, pop a handful of olives into a sealable container – the salt factor will leave you feeling thirsty, meaning you’ll probably be reaching for your water bottle before you know it.
After a sweeter option? Try low-fat yoghurts, dried fruits like sultanas and apricots, or a piece of fruit. Fruit is one of the best on-the-go snacks there is – it’s naturally snack-sized and it comes in its own convenient packaging! And if you’re still craving a bit of a sugar hit, make up a batch of healthy muffins, brownies or banana bread before you go. Sprinkle some nuts and seeds into the recipe before you bake and you’ll be upping the nutrition factor even more.
Eating healthy while travelling also involves smart choices when it comes to eating during transit. We often feel tired and sluggish after flying because of the lack of physical movement involved. Our digestive systems are not processing foods like they normally would, so it’s important to stick to your normal meal schedule as much as possible. And that means opting out of inflight snacks if you’ve already eaten a hearty meal before boarding!
In terms of meals, try to avoid carb-loaded options like rice, pasta and bread, and instead choose healthy options like fish, soups, salads, and vegetables. Reducing your carb intake, in particular, while travelling can help to reduce bloating, fluid retention and even jetlag
And most importantly, stay hydrated. Aircraft are super-dry environments and if you’re dehydrated you may start to feel the effects of fatigue. Avoid the alcohol, fizzy drinks and too much caffeine and choose water or herbal teas instead which will help flush out your kidneys.
These days most accommodation comes equipped with, at the very least, a mini-fridge, microwave and a kettle. Stock up on instant oats, organic soups and healthy microwaveable frozen meals, and you’ll have breakfast, lunch and dinner in your room sorted!
If you are booked into a self-contained hotel room with a kitchenette, you’ll have even more options available in terms of healthy travel food ideas. Stock up on healthy snacks and fresh produce from the local markets and plan easy-to-prepare meals just like you would at home!
Finally, resist the temptation to order room service or raid the mini-bar (and that means the chocolate as well!). Many room service meals are essentially ‘mystery meals’ and often high in sugars, carbohydrates and unhealthy fats.
Travelling for business often goes hand in hand with eating out, particularly if your work involves entertaining clients or dining with work colleagues. The temptation is often to treat yourself, but if you’re focused on staying healthy while travelling, try to stick to your normal eating routine and do your research first in terms of dining options. Try and choose healthier choices, and if you know you’re out for a big evening meal, have a lighter lunch.
Don’t be afraid to be assertive in restaurants either. After all, you’re the customer! If you’d like a vegetarian option, your food cooked in a certain way, or fat-laden fries swapped for extra vegetables, ask away. You should also try to keep portions down to a minimum and stick to one course if you can.
And then there’s the dreaded Happy Hour. There’s nothing wrong with a quiet drink with your colleagues to celebrate a business win, however, most alcoholic drinks are loaded with kilojoules. If you must partake, opt for lighter options, avoid those mixed with a soft drink, and practise healthier habits by interspersing each drink with a glass of water. Cheers!