It is more than possible to stick within our guidelines for nutrition while away. However, we may choose to not track diligently (if using macros) and give our dieting a bit of a vacation too — which is totally fine. Just remember that it’s important to eat mindfully by filling up our plates with fresh high-quality food sources and doing our best to minimize alcohol consumption and foods we know will not align with our goals or specific plan (if working with a coach).
While the impact of travel can’t be completely erased, it can be minimized. The scale will bounce around and our expectations of progress for the weeks that follow must be adjusted, but to what extent will largely be determined by our choices. The good news is this means we are in control, even while traveling. The following strategies will not only affect our progress but will also have an impact on how much we enjoy our trip and how quickly we bounce back upon returning home.
To begin, I would like to point out some commonly impacted areas of health and wellness in relation to travel.
1. Sleep tends to suffer with time zone and schedule changes, longer days and different sleeping arrangements.
Strategy: Do you best to plan ahead and seek ways to optimize and organize your itinerary. Avoid stress by making sensible flight and travel plans and allow a time buffer. Unplug from electronics prior to sleep and find ways to relax: a hot shower, reading, and journaling are all proven methods to wind down and enhance sleep quality.
2. Exercise routines, or lack thereof, are usually a little out of whack, given you’re not in your usual surroundings. Decreased activity can have a dramatic impact on energy, mood and, of course, progress.
Strategy: Prior to travel investigate local gyms in the area or amenities of hotels prior to booking. Weather permitting, you could even walk near where you are staying to add to your daily movement. Make sure to pack gym shoes and clothes to be prepared.
3. Hydration can be affected due to the lack of humidity in the air on the plane and a difference in altitude between our destination and what we are used to. We also tend to drink less water when on the go and increase our sodium and alcohol intake.
Strategy: Purchase a refillable water bottle and bring it with you. During meals include fruits and vegetables to take advantage of the water content. If bottled water is accessible at venues, grab a couple prior to meetings or on breaks to have available. Breaks are also an opportunity to refill your own water bottle if you brought one.
Here are some items to consider bringing, these are “airplane friendly” travel options that will help with nutrition goals:
· Water bottle – It can be hard to remember to drink water when you’re on the go. To ensure you’re meeting your water target bring along a water bottle. This will help to ensure you stay hydrated and energized for the whole trip. I recommend a double-walled cup such as the following:
Bubba 24 oz HERO bottle, Assorted Colors (Matte Black/Eclipse)
Learn more: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00N7EBOOC/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_k4lqCb7WG7HX4
· Travel food scale – There are many available options, and these usually slide easily into your carry on, or the bottom of your suitcase. A good option to make it easy to practice precision for several meals even if they are only in the hotel room! Additionally, this can be used to measure out precise amounts for snacks you take with you as you leave the hotel room to start the day (goes well with the item below).
· Freezer / Zip lock bags – Have these on hand to pack your snacks for the day. Also, convenient to save foods from breakfast, and otherwise to take back to your hotel room.
Common questions related to traveling for business purposes:
Q: How do you manage your foods for the day, on the days you know you would be in meetings all day?
A: Typically, my schedule is laid out for the week, so I knew exactly when I would be in meetings or able to eat. I would devise an eating strategy for the upcoming day before I went to bed. I created this habit on my business trips and still do it every day – this allows me to be in control of hitting my macros, not the circumstances of the moment! I packed a few Quest Bars each day because they are easy to track. I also had a few bags of beef jerky for protein. Fruits are usually readily available and easy to grab an extra if desired: bananas, oranges, apples. I also had a bag of almonds and cashews for fat. You can either pre-measure (if you brought a food scale) or use the visually measure of a small handful which is roughly 28g.
Q: What are your go-to foods on the road? How do you navigate the buffets/restaurants etc.?
A: I primarily seek out sources of protein, as I have found that to be the most difficult to meet while traveling. As a part of this, when I plan my travel I also locate markets and grocery stores in the area. I will then stock up on some common items the day I arrive. Some of these are: beef jerky, mixed nuts, hard boiled eggs, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, protein shakes or bars (quest bars, etc.), cooked diced chicken. Make sure to keep in mind refrigerator space in your hotel room when choosing foods. Another thing that can be done is to pack protein powder in your checked luggage to have for making protein shakes. For lunch I would seek out lean meats, healthy greens, and some type of starch (potato).
By dinner, because I kept a very close eye on fats and carbs throughout the day, I could enjoy a nice restaurant in the area or participate in group outings. Having enough reserves in the carb and fat tank is critical. I’d much rather come up short after dinner and polish off my macros with a snack than be running on fumes before dinner is even served!
Another strategy I use when on corporate trips where lunches/dinners are pre-planned, is to push my first meal of the day back closer to lunch. Don’t starve yourself by any means (coffee or tea can help and if necessary, eat a few bites of lean protein and have a half-sized serving of fruit), but as mentioned above, leaving macros in the bank for later in the day always trumps running out of macros too quickly.
Lastly, do some advance research on restaurants in the area prior to travel to look at online menus and nutritional information (if available). The key to all of this is to prepare and be informed in advance of the trip. I would primarily drink tea, coffee (black), and water to save from using up carbs on beverages.