Q. I generally travel two weeks out of the month on business, and I find it hard to stay on track with my diet because I'm eating out at restaurants all the time. Do you have any tips on healthy eating while you're away from home?
-- James, Hoffman Estates
A. Being on the road and out of your element can definitely hinder your attempts at eating healthy. But, with a sensible game plan, you'll find that you can do a pretty good job of eating healthy even when you're away from home for weeks at a time. Try the following tips to stay on track on your next trip.
Do your homework. Once you know where you'll be traveling, go online and check out healthy restaurants and grocery stores in that area. Many restaurants have healthy options if you know what to look for. Ask your waiter how your food is prepared and request modifications if necessary. Stay away from sauces, breading and heavy dressings. A lean meat and a side of vegetables with water or iced tea is obviously a better choice than a combo meal at the fast-food drive-through. Many grocery stores also have lunch or dinner options available as long as you choose the right foods.
Be prepared. If you want to eat healthy, you must have food options available so you don't skip meals. Poor planning and skipped meals during the day will increase your chances of eating too much or the wrong kinds of foods at night. Once you get settled into your hotel, do some grocery shopping and pick up some breakfast and snack options. Oatmeal, nuts, fruit and protein powders require no refrigeration and can be taken along in your bag or purse. If you have a small fridge in your hotel room, you can pick up some Greek yogurt or sliced deli meat to have around for breakfast or snacking. You could even pack a cooler and take options like this or a salad with you during the day if you know you'll only have a small window for lunch. If you go through your day without a food plan, you're setting yourself up for failure.
Hydrate. You should always have a bottle of water with you at all times. Staying properly hydrated will keep you performing at your best and will make you less likely to reach for a coffee in the middle of the afternoon or a can of cola as you walk by the vending machine. A bottle of water and a healthy snack will keep your mind in control of your food choices rather than allowing you stomach to take over.
Avoid temptations. Many traveling clients find options like bagels, doughnuts and other pastries available when they walk into their early morning meetings, or someone may have ordered pizza for a lunch meeting. If you go into these situations on an empty stomach, it's hard to resist these unhealthy foods, especially when everyone else is eating right in front of you. If you stick to your plan and eat healthy foods every two to three hours, you won't be affected by these unhealthy temptations.
Don't skip workouts. Studies have shown that people who exercise consistently also eat healthier. An early-morning workout puts you in the right frame of mind, which will keep you focused throughout the day on what's best for your body. If your hotel doesn't have an exercise room, get outside for a 30-minute walk or jog. A healthy body craves healthy foods.
So being away from home only means that you have to plan accordingly. Make the right decisions and you'll see and feel the difference.
For more exercise and nutrition tips, visit our blog at PushFitnessTraining.com.
• Joshua Steckler and Mark Trapp are co-owners of Push Fitness, a personal training studio in Schaumburg specializing in weight loss, muscle toning and nutrition. Contact them at PushFitnessTraining.com.