Healthy eating while travelling is a skill worthy of some attention. I have many clients that travel for business and for pleasure who are left wondering how to stay healthy away from home. Many feel somewhat helpless and adopt the attitude “It’s only for a short time – I’ll get back on track when I get home”. It only becomes a problem when unhealthy choices from repeated trips begin to stretch the waistline and clog the arteries.
One of the biggest challenges while travelling is the irregular eating times. You often have less control over when you will have food available to you. Long gaps between meals result in a ravenous hunger that takes on a mind of its own. Those good intentions to replace the fries with a side salad go to the wayside at the mercy of a growling stomach. With willpower at its lowest and a typical overflowing portion of food, most will polish off every bite in an attempt to stay full until the next undetermined mealtime. If you make a habit of long gaps between large meals your body will no doubt respond by carrying an ample supply of body fat to get you through the day.
A simple solution is to gain more control of your eating by carrying some portable snacks. In essence ‘you carry the food so that your body doesn’t have to’. The ideal snack should provide a source of slow acting carbohydrate and a source of protein to help keep you full. Common snacking food such as granola bars and muffins are too high in sugar and too low in protein.
They provide a quick boost in energy but leave you feeling tired and hungry at your next meal. The trick is to dodge the sugar and find sources of protein that won’t spoil without refrigeration. Tuna now comes in individual servings with pop off lids. Check your grocery store for “tuna and cracker packs” that include a little knife to spread the lightly seasoned tuna onto the crackers. If you are travelling in the close quarters of an airplane or train, you may wish to carry a less ‘pungent’ snack. Tuna is a great source of protein however it may be best saved for places with better ventilation such as airports and rental cars. You can opt for the convenience of an energy bar. They are portable, not very messy and easy to stash in a pocket or purse. When choosing a bar look for one with at least 10 grams of protein to help keep you full.
In fact many bars are so filling that you can get away with half a bar as a mid morning snack. Save the other half for an afternoon snack. Avoid bars with more than 3 grams of saturated fat. Often the chocolate coated bars use unhealthy oils such as hydrogenated palm and coconut oils. For a more natural source of carbohydrate and protein you can make up a trail mix of nuts and dried fruit. A simple combination of dried apricots and almonds is quite satisfying and easy to carry. Nuts are high in fat and calories therefore keep your portions in check. A small handful of nuts (8-10 almonds) and 4-5 dried apricots along with a bottle of water should bridge the gap between meals quite nicely.
To lower the fat and calories even further you can try dry roasted soya beans. They are sold in grocery stores under the name “soy nuts” and they are half the calories and fat of regular nuts.
A handful of soya nuts along with some fresh fruit bought locally make a nice treat. Try some of these snacks before you travel to see which ones you like the most. When packing your suitcase leave some room to pack some snacks. Throw in a few clean zip lock bags and a small Tupperware container to make your food easy to transport. The little extra effort to plan ahead will help stabilize your energy and your hunger. The end result will be a happier, healthier trip that is a little easier on the waistline.