There are so many health pitfalls when you're on the road. Breakfast meetings, lunch meetings, dinner meetings, airport food, airplane food, and eating on the run to name a few. Then there's the feeling of being somewhere new and wanting to sample all the local specialties. Beignets in New Orleans, pizza in NYC, and Tex-Mex in Texas can really pack on the pounds. But life is all about balance. TWA sat down with some road warriors (and one is a nutrition health coach!) to get their tips on maintaining a healthy lifestyle on the go.
As a corporate event planner, Krissy Wylie travels frequently to places all over the globe. Her profession means that she is constantly entertaining clients, sampling food menus, and generally sitting at a desk when she's not traveling. This naturally led to her interest in nutrition and how to live her healthiest life. She's now a certified nutrition health coach and I've asked her to share with me her top tips for not derailing when you're away from home. Here's what she had to say:
Bring your own food
Airports don't always have the healthiest grab and go options. On top of that, unexpected delays may mean that you do not even have time to stop for food between flights. Bringing food from home makes you feel nourished and can sustain you until you reach your destination. One of my favorite snacks is a trail mix that consists of raw nuts, seeds, unsweetened coconut, and goji berries (sometimes dark chocolate chips too). I'll also bring a baggie of cut veggies like red bell peppers, cucumbers, and baby carrots with a small container of hummus and I ALWAYS have a few clean protein bars like RX Bars, Larabar, or Kind Bars in my bag to hold me over on unexpected delays.
do your research
Make this a habit before you leave home. Depending on your location, it's now so easy to have food from Whole Foods or Amazon delivered right to your hotel room. If this isn't an option, find a local grocery to stock up on some staples like fruit, almond butter, avocados, lemons, protein bars, and/or protein powder that can easily be mixed with water, almond milk or coconut milk.
ask your hotel for a fridge
Make sure your hotel has an in-room fridge that is not already stocked with alcohol and junk. Simply ask the hotel to put a mini fridge in your room upon arrival. If there already is one, ask the hotel to remove the minibar snacks (and alcohol) so after you visit the grocery store, you can stock your fridge with healthy fresh produce and easy grab and go snacks.
blend it up
Bring along a small blender or ask the hotel if they will provide one. A blender really makes healthy traveling so much easier! I've got a small Nutribullet that packs easily in most suitcases. Surprisingly, some of the more high end hotels will provide one for you in your room. You never know until you ask! Smoothies can pack in so much nutrition and make the perfect quick and easy breakfast on the go. A favorite of mine is a simple smoothie that can be done without a stocked fridge. All you need is vegan chocolate protein powder, powdered super greens, a banana, almond butter (or an avocado), water, and ice. So easy and so tasty!
go off the menu
You actually don't have to order from the menu when you're at a restaurant. While most cities have plenty of local cafes or restaurants that serve healthy farm to table cuisine, you may find yourself at one that doesn't offer up healthy options. Use the menu as a guideline for what they can do and ask for substitutions. Most restaurants are very accommodating to special requests. Build your own salad, order steamed veggies with salmon or chicken, brown rice or quinoa with a veggie medley, etc. You can ask to leave out the heavy sauces and substitute with olive oil and lemon juice.
move your body
The body thrives on movement! Building exercise into your trip, even if it's only 20 minutes a day, can keep you feeling energized and vibrant. Get up 30 minutes early and either walk/run or hit the hotel gym.
drink your water
For most of us, traveling means we're eating out more than usual. The result is that we consume more sodium in our food, which can leave us feeling bloated. Make sure to drink at least 1/2 of your body weight in ounces plus a little more if you are at high altitude or exercising. Staying hydrated also helps with hunger and our ability to control food cravings. Most of the time, you think you are hungry when it actually is just thirst! If you're needing to mix it up a bit and drink something other than water, try some ultra-hydrating coconut water which contains natural electrolytes.
get your beauty rest
This is sometimes the hardest to do while traveling. Late nights and early mornings make it tough to get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep. Jet lag can also really mess up your sleep schedule. With all of these factors, it's so important to focus on good quality uninterrupted sleep. When you get back to your room, draw the blinds, power down, do some deep breathing and sprinkle some lavender essential oil on your pillow. This will set the intention for deep sleep and a well-rested night.
Charlotte Frederick, another road warrior friend, knows how important it is to exercise while traveling. I sat down with her to ask her about her routines because her dedication to making it a priority is inspiring.
TWA: What tools do you find useful for staying healthy on the road?
CK: I check out the fitness facility of the hotel I'm staying in and check out the surrounding area on the MINDBODY app. Not all hotel fitness centers offer classes, so I find the app is an extremely useful tool when I'm on the road because you can enter your location, choose your fitness option, and find the classes closest to you. It's a great starting point when you are in a new place. The best part is that you can easily try a bunch of different studios or stick with the same one if you like it.
TWA: How do you maintain your workout schedule?
CK: It's so much easier when I plan my schedule in advance by looking at my work schedule and then try and find a location/routine that has a fitness program that works with it. If I only have very early morning available then I find a local studio that offers that as an option. If I manage to plan it out to make it work for my needs, I feel better mentally and physically, which helps me ease and control stress, my emotions and allows for more energy. Exercise is a great way to stave off jet lag too!
TWA: What are some tips for eating healthy when traveling for those that find it challenging?
CK: Eating healthy can definitely be challenging on the road but just like everything else, it's a mindset and your brain can always be retrained. Long hours and high stress can lead to poor eating, so try and notice the difference between how you feel during those times and how you feel when you're taking care of yourself. My mind functions better when it is nourished properly. For this to happen, I find places and things that allow me to eat healthy the way I would at home. This can definitely be a challenge but I am finding it is becoming much easier as most places are adapting more local, farm to table, healthy options.
TWA: What are some common pitfalls that people can fall into with regards to eating on the road?
CK: It is very easy to lose track and let the travel, stress, and exhaustion take over; late night dinners and drinking every night will challenge anyone. It is all about balance and taking care of yourself. I needed to learn that it is important to nourish my body and mind through food and lifestyle and if I can set my mind to remember that and make my plan in advance, it helps. If late night dinners are not required and I can get out for a walk or to a yoga class I am much better the next day. It is a constant reminder to myself that I feel better when I remain physically active and maintain my healthy lifestyle.
On a recent trip to Austin, I joined Charlotte & Krissy at a yoga studio, Wanderlust Yoga, which was around the corner from where I was staying. I love doing yoga at home and this studio just so happened to have a schedule that worked well with mine. In doing movements that are familiar to me, it helped to keep my mind focused and clear. The best part was that they had a little cafe which served up some healthy fare like smoothies, juices, and bowls.
It's so easy to get caught up in the hectic schedules and the temptations of airport and restaurant food. If you follow the tips outlined above, you'll truly thank yourself when you get back home and your time away will feel more zen.