If you are a frequent business traveler, you must be used to stumbling upon tireless agendas, long meetings and jetlagged sleepless nights. And if you are planning for a leisure trip, you must have also prepared yourself for the annoying airport security queues, extended hours on the plane or crazy weekend traffic on the road.
But have you also taken into consideration the diet mines which are placed in your flights, hotels and highway restaurants with the sole objective of messing with your healthy eating efforts and erasing your past dieting triumphs? Not yet?
Read on to learn the nuances of eating healthily and staying fit while traveling.
1. In Flight Diet- Air travelers usually bring their own snacks from home or pick up something to eat en route. Harvard Business Review article points out ‘ bag of nuts and dried fruits, fruits like apples, banana and oranges and single serve packages of peanut butter and crackers or rice cakes’ as travel mates for the trip ahead. Though the lure of inexpensive, fast and filling fast foods is immense, remember to steer clear of the high calorie sweetened beverages and skip the fat laden entrée’s, fried snacks, salted nuts, doughnuts and burger combo meals.
2. A grilled chicken Sub Sandwich without the mayo; pasta with vegetables and tomato sauce, quesadillas, seafood platter with low fat dressings or sushi, egg white omelets, whole wheat bagels, sweetened yogurt and fresh fruit smoothies prepared with low fat milk are other healthy options at airport restaurants. If time and budget permits, sleuth around the terminal and find a nice place to enjoy a nutritious sit- down meal before boarding.
3. Depending on the airline, you may be offered either an option of trying the ‘in flight’ meals or to buy ‘on board’ meal packs. For meals, go for deli sandwiches and rolls with egg or lean meats as filling, loads of veggies or salads as side dish and fresh fruits for dessert. And when the beverage cart comes closer, pick up plain water, green tea or fruit juices over sodas, lattes and alcoholic drinks.
4. On the Road Diet- The typical highway fare of chips, sodas and microwave ready eating packets can pack extra calories, sodium and fats, and also leave you feeling tired and grumpy. Even if you are planning to hit the road early, be sure to have a small breakfast of oats and milk or toast with peanut butter at home. Starting the journey on a full stomach will help you to stay alert and energetic and ward the junk food cravings away.
5. Pack string cheese, crackers, bran cookies, low fat protein bars, almonds, hard boiled eggs and plenty of water. During gas or restroom breaks, scoot through the convenience store aisles for healthy foods which can be eaten later. At the highway eating joints, remember to share the meal with a partner and swap the bacon and extra cheese toppings with beans and lettuce.
6. Do simple stretching exercises such as neck and shoulder rolls and ab strengthening tummy suctions in between long driving or sitting in the car sessions to ease strained muscles , digest food better and burn a few calories.
7. At Hotel Diet- It is possible to enjoy a healthy meal at the hotel of your stay without blowing a hole in your budget or diet. Read the menu carefully and select the items that use steaming, braising, roasting or sautéing as cooking methods.
8. At food outlets, select an entrée with veggies and lean meat, that’s not battered and deep-fried. A few healthy delights in Oriental cuisine include steamed rice with lemon or ginger chicken, fish and noodle soup, steamed dumplings with vegetable stuffing and stir fried bean sprout salad with cashew and bamboo shoots. Quite often the Chinese cuisine is loaded with monosodium glutamate, soy sauce and vegetable oil. Avoiding such dishes and choosing the ones which use sesame seeds, plum sauce or mustard sauce as condiment is recommended.
9. Ask for the dressings, sauces, mayo and honey to be served on the side so that you can control the quantity you use.
10. People with special needs such as pregnant women, diabetics or children must take extra care about what they eat and drink. Adhere strictly to precautions against common food and water borne illness, drink bottled water only and pack ORS sachets and prescribed medications. Don’t hesitate to mention your special meal preferences to the airline or restaurant staff and ask for tailored meals to suit your taste and health conditions.
While traveling need not be an excuse to splurge in unhealthy temptations; meals away from home should also not bother one to the extent of being a freak or spoilsport. The idea is to make some smart choices and having fun with family or friends without letting the diet to go on a travel spree too.