I’m not going to lie, eating right while traveling is hard. Especially when traveling for work where you might not always have a car, your own choice of food or time to prepare/find food. I recently had an opportunity to travel for work and was a little unsure of what to expect. I didn’t want to have to spend a lot of my own money to prep for this so I didn’t really put much effort into getting food before I left. I figured the hotel would have an okay breakfast, the business would cater lunch for us and I could have something good for dinner. While I didn’t necessarily have a worst case scenario, it was a lot worse than I thought!
Needless to say I had a very hard time coping with this lack of control. My first week of travel left me stressed, anxious and annoyed. Granted part of this could have been avoided had I just expected the worst and packed my own food from the start but the more I thought about this, the angrier I became. How hard should it be to get good, real food? Why is it so difficult for a company to supply it’s employees with food that’s actually good for them? I long for the day when I can get a catered lunch that I don’t have to pick through or a dinner that I don’t have to wonder about. However, until that day comes I’ll have to make due with what I’ve got. Here are my best tips for eating right while traveling to stay on track with your health and fitness goals.
Make the most of breakfast. The hotel breakfast included a variety of fruits, yogurt, muffins, bagels, bread, oatmeal, grits, gravy, fried potatoes and scrambled eggs (that taste like cardboard). Fortunately for me, I was able to order room service. I would typically order two over medium eggs along with some sauteed spinach and meat from the dinner I had the night before.
Get creative at lunch. As I previously mentioned, lunch was catered for us by the company. Each day was normally some kind of sandwich along with a type of pastry or cookie and chips. I had one lucky day where salad was an option. Fortunately, sandwiches and burgers are probably one of the easiest things to modify. Instead of the bread that came with it, I would use lettuce as a wrap. Since they normally had a lot of extras from lunch because they were ordering for a large group, I didn’t see the harm in taking more than one serving to make up for the other stuff I wasn’t eating. The sides ranged from cookies, pastries, chips, baked beans, mac and cheese and fruit. Most days I would choose the fruit but after going to the store, I was able to sneak in some baby food to get more veggies in!
Mentally prepare for passing the bread basket at dinner. The hardest part about dinner was simply that we were eating out every night. One night, Logans Steak House, another night a local place, next night Bone Fish Grill and another night another chain. Most nights I was able to choose something reasonable but the hardest part for me was that every restaurant brought out bread before the meal. Literally EVERY SINGLE PLACE. I like to think I have pretty good will power but when those hot buttered buns come out at Texas Roadhouse, I just can’t resist. The first week was horrible, I think I had bread with dinner almost every night. Like I mentioned above, by the end of week one, I could tell it was taking it’s toll. By the time week two rolled around I knew I had to get my shit together. I was determined not to eat the bread. Now I’m not going to lie, I still had it one night out of the week but I needed to prove to myself I could say no to the bread no matter how much my co-workers prodded me. By the end of week two I was feeling much better. I was able to make it into a CrossFit gym and could feel how much better my body was feeling without as much processed crap.
The biggest take away I learned from this experience is that you have to be prepared in order to eat right while traveling. I think I am somewhat naive in my thinking because the people I hang out with and the way I live my life is so health focused that I forget the majority of people out there just aren’t educated or just don’t give a damn what they’re putting in their mouths. If you want to be successful with in eating right while traveling, you have to do the work. Don’t leave your health up to other people! Check out Thrive Market for on-the-go snacks for your next trip, and my recent post on workouts without a gym for fitness inspiration on the road.