This week I’ve spent quite a bit of time away from home traveling for The Belly Burn Plan. I think we can all agree that it’s much easier to eat healthy when we have both control and access to the foods that we know make us feel best. But when we travel, whether it’s for a vacation or work, we have to make different choices.
Personally, there is nothing worse than feeling bloated or sluggish after coming back from a trip. Sometimes that feeling can be compounded by a poor night of sleep or traveling over different time zones.
I’m in New York right now, but before I left I took 10 minutes to prepare my “snack pack” of food. …and boy, did it save me. I didn’t roll into my hotel room until 11:00pm Sunday night. The last thing I wanted to do was eat something heavy, but I was hungry. Here is a shot of what I took with me.
It wasn’t perfect, but I noshed away on carrots and cashews Sunday night. Believe me, it was less than ideal, but I made up for it with a really healthy and delicious breakfast of eggs and sautéed vegetables the next morning from the restaurant next door.
The worst things you can eat
Traveling generally means a lot of sitting. Sitting can lead to boredom. And boredom often leads to eating. This is where you have to make the choice: good food vs bad food. Here are a few of the worst foods you can eat.
- Pretzels & Chips: They’re refined, salty and put our body on the fast track to retaining fluid. Unless you think swollen fingers and ankles are sexy, steer clear.
- Soda & Energy Drinks: They’re both a hot mess of sugary gunk. The quick pick-me-up you get from these beverages will last for about 15 minutes before your blood sugar comes crashing down, only to make you hungry and probably tired.
- Cookies, Pastries & Candy Bars: You’re smart. I really don’t need to elaborate on this too much, but this group of food can be tempting, so stay strong. Sugar, starch and unhealthy fat will leave you feeling like a blob before you reach your destination.
The best things you can eat
No matter where you travel, there is probably a store with food. Of course, the best thing you can do is to pack a few things ahead of time. The foods in the picture above fit into a quart-size bag that easily fit into my purse.
- Prunes: I know I sound like a grandma, but I love them. I don’t usually recommend dried fruits because they’re high in sugar, but prunes are relatively low on the glycemic index, they’re high in fiber and they help to shuttle calcium to our bones (BONUS). I wouldn’t recommend eating a lot in one sitting. Five or so ought to do the trick.
- Fresh Vegetables: Cut some fresh veggies up, or buy pre-cut veggies in the store. They’re easy to snack on and at valuable nutrients to your diet.
- Apples & Berries: I prefer to recommend fruits that are easy, but someone lower in sugar, too. Apples are incredibly easy, but berries fit well into small containers, too.
- Hummus & Nut Butters: Depending on how you’re traveling, hummus and nut butters can be real saviors. They’re higher in protein and fat, which will help keep you satisfied longer. They’re also really tasty. What’s more, most convenience stores carry both of these. Make sure you buy varieties that are free of partially hydrogenated oils.
- Nuts: Pack up a small bag of nuts – raw, preferably. Raw nuts are a great source of protein, fat and often fiber (depending on the type of nut). My personal favorite is walnuts.
- Hard Boiled Eggs: If you’re a fan of eggs, this one is an easy hit. If you don’t have time to boil at home, many convenience stores carry them pre-boiled.
When you’re eating out
Sometimes people do great when they’re en route, but have a tough time when they’re faced with a menu oozing with heavy dishes. Keep restaurant food as simple as possible and don’t be afraid to ask your server to tweak your dish. Often times they will. Here is a list of quick dos and don’ts
- Do order a protein with every meal: eggs, fish (unbreaded), chicken, beef, etc.
- Don’t order fried foods
- Do ask for your server to (for instance) hold the rice or potato and add an extra serving of vegetables
- Don’t eat starch-based carbohydrates three or fewer hours before bed (potatoes, rice, bread, etc)
- Do order broth-based soups in lieu of cream-based soups (you never know what kind of fat they use)
- Don’t drink your calories
- Do ask for any sauces on the side (again, you never know what kind of fat they use or how much will be added to your meal)
- Don’t indulge in desserts. Instead, order a cup of tea to finish your meal
- Do start your meal off with a big glass of water
There you go! I hope these lists have you eating healthier on the road. If you’re really committed to eating healthy and want to lose weight, pick up a copy of my book The Belly Burn Plan. It’s available now. After you buy the book, join my Belly Burn Plan Facebook Group for support. It’s free, friendly and fun!