How to Eat Healthy When Traveling for Work
Do you have a business trip coming up? Leave the fast food behind. Keep yourself at your best by learning how to eat healthy when traveling for work.
A business trip could be the perfect opportunity to think outside the box and is certainly the best way to get outside the cubicle and level up your professional life. But taking your work on the road can sometimes mean you have to leave the healthy habits you’ve built at home behind. Your daily routines can be thrown off by that flight you need to catch or the lack of cooking space in your hotel room.
But you don’t have to give up on eating healthy while you’re on the road. Keep yourself at your best and eat healthy when traveling for work with these helpful tricks.
Why Eat Healthy When Traveling for Work
Making healthy choices isn’t always easy, but when you remember that what it’s really about is feeling great, having more energy, and improving your health, then developing a wholesome diet becomes a primary necessity. The effort you put in today will pay off for the rest of your life.
Staying healthy throughout your work trip will not only allow you to maintain the healthy habits you’ve developed at home, but it will also leave you more energized and ready to take on the work you came to do. Wake up early, catch your flights, and knock those meetings and presentations out of the park and cope with your jet lag.
Tips on How to Eat Healthy When Traveling for Work
Maintaining healthy habits might seem like an impossible task while on the road, but we’ve got your back. Here are some helpful tips to remain centered, have the energy to travel, and improve your health.
Avoid Midnight Snacking
When you feel the urge for a late-night snack it’s best to think about how it might affect your performance the next day. New research suggests that midnight snacking can have adverse physical and mental effects:
- Those calories consumed at bedtime are way more likely to be stored as fat.
- Late-night eating has been linked to weight gain and severe acid reflux.
- According to a study from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, midnight snackers have slow mental reaction times and lower attention spans, especially if they’re sleep-deprived.
- Snacking late at night can alter your ability to remember things accurately the next day. A 2015 study showed that midnight snacking misaligns the body’s circadian clock, causing dramatic deficits in learning and memory.
Try Intermittent Fasting
According to HealthLine, Intermittent fasting (IF) is currently one of the world’s most popular health and fitness trends. It is an eating pattern that alternates periods of fasting with periods of eating. Rather than specifying which foods to eat, it determines when to eat them. Besides being a tool to lose weight, it improves your health while simplifying your lifestyle.
There are several ways to perform intermittent fasting, all of which involve dividing the day or week into periods of eating and fasting. The usual IF methods consist of daily 16-hour fasts or 24-hour fasts, twice a week.
Get Enough Sleep
When you’re traveling for work, you are representing your company and there’s no better way to be prepared for that than to be well-rested. How you feel when you are awake depends partly on what happens while you sleep. A lack of sleep affects how well you think, react, work, learn, and get along with others.
Getting enough quality sleep plays an essential role in your physical and mental health. While you get your beauty sleep, your brain prepares for the next day, forming new pathways to help you learn and remember information.
A good night’s sleep helps enhance your problem-solving skills, creativity, and your ability to pay attention and make decisions. Physically speaking, sleeping maintains a healthy balance of hormones and a strong immune system while sleep deficiency increases the risk of obesity, heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.
Plan Out Your Meals
An excellent way to eat healthy when traveling for work is to plan your meals. This way, you won’t be tempted to go out for fast food and avoid overeating. However, when planning is not an option, having healthy snacks on hand will help you hold out until the next meal.
Don’t be driven by immediate hunger. Make sure you maintain a healthy diet by packing some perishable foods for your trip. Store food separately in individual portions and small resealable plastic bags or meal prep containers. Keep them cool by placing them in a soft-sided cooler. Some great perishable staples are:
- Fresh fruits
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Cut vegetables
- Cheese sticks
- Pre-cooked meats
If you’re still not sure whether or not you’re going to have a soft-sided cooler or don’t want to travel with perishable items, you can pack some non-perishable snacks instead. Some healthy treats to bring on your business trip include:
- Trail mix
- Nuts or seeds
- Beef jerky
Prep at Home
Unlike a vacation, you may not have the time to prepare meals while you’re on a work trip. Additional tasks may come up and unexpected situations arise during work trips that need to be dealt with promptly.
For this reason, don’t leave everything to the last minute. Prepare at home a few days before you go to make your business trip more productive.
Research your destination, find out where to shop for healthy options and book your accommodations in advance with a place that has a kitchen or at least a mini-fridge to store your food. Next, prepare a schedule with all your meetings and create an itinerary. Pack only what you need, cook some meals ahead of time, and bring plenty of healthy snacks.
Drink Lots of Water
We usually underestimate the importance of staying hydrated. Every cell and organ in our body needs water to function correctly. Being well-hydrated enhances sleep quality, mood, and efficient thinking and learning. It also regulates body temperature, keeps joints lubricated, and prevents infections. Dehydration can also mimic the sensation of hunger, leading you to overeat when what you need is fluids.
Before leaving your accommodations, drink two 8 ounce glasses of water and bring a water bottle to encourage yourself to stay hydrated throughout the day. Collapsible water bottles are perfect when traveling for work since they can be folded compactly after drinking, making them easy to carry. Alternatively, you can drink flavored water or tea.
Eat Lots of Local Produce
What could be fresher than local produce? Eating lots of local produce not only benefits your health but also contributes to the local community. Supporting the food businesses of the area impacts the economy, society, and the environment positively. Local produce often tastes better, contains more nutrients, and uses less packaging.
Get a Hotel Room with a Fridge
Getting a hotel room with a refrigerator is one of the best ways to maintain healthy eating habits when traveling for work. Hit the nearest local grocery store for fruit and snacks or bring your food from home in separate meal prep containers and store them in the fridge. This way, you’ll have nutritious options on hand.
Eat Light on Day One
The first day is usually the busiest when you are on a business trip. Eating small portions will keep you energized enough to keep going without feeling heavy. Avoid eating three full-calorie meals. Instead, bring snacks, order from the appetizer menu, or order half portions. Keep in mind that the lightest meal of the day should be when you are least active. For example, if you plan to go straight to bed after dinner, try to eat lighter.
Stay Away from too Much Sugar
Next time your sweet tooth calls, ease those cravings with some sliced fruit or nuts.
Stay away from vending machines. Eating excessive sugar, either treats or sodas might cause dehydration, especially if these treats are caffeinated. When you have too much sugar, the body requires a lot of time, effort, and energy to process it. Don’t be hard on your body and stay away from too much sugar.
Stay Away from too Much Alcohol
If you want to indulge in a drink, go ahead, but take sips of water in between and limit your alcohol intake. When traveling for work, you want to make sure your mind is clear for your meetings, presentations, and travel. If you’ve noticed that you visit the restroom more frequently while drinking beers or cocktails, that is because alcohol is a diuretic which means it increases the frequency of restroom visits. This leaves you dehydrated and drained when you need to be feeling fresh and ready to work. Remember, you’re not on vacation, stay focused on achieving trip goals, eating healthy, staying hydrated, and limiting alcohol consumption.
Stay Away from too Many Carbs
Carbs are one of the primary and vital food groups for a healthy life. They are the fibers, starches, and sugars found in grains, dairy products, fruits, and vegetables. Along with proteins and fats, carbohydrates are also known as macronutrients. They’re the body’s main source of energy and calories, essential to the proper functioning of the organism. In addition, carbohydrates appear to be crucial for improving memory. They serve as fuel for our central nervous system and energy for our muscles to function.
However, not all carbohydrates are good. Nutritionists classify them into simple and complex carbs. Generally, the body dissolves simple carbohydrates, such as sweets, soft drinks, and syrups, more quickly. But, these foods have little to no nutritional value, leading to weight gain.
Unlike simple carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates can be found in starchy foods such as lentils, beans, peas, peanuts, potatoes, cereals, and whole-grain bread. While simple carbohydrates may provide a quick energy spike, complex carbohydrates provide a long-term, sustained energy source without causing weight gain when consumed in moderation.
That said, business travelers should be mindful of precisely what carbohydrates they consume. The key is balance. Focus on mainly getting complex carbohydrates in your diet, including whole grains and vegetables, and stay away from too many carbs.
Stick to Your Exercise Routine
A successful day starts with an exercise routine. Wake up 30 minutes earlier or take advantage of downtime at work to put on workout clothes and sneakers and take a walk. Get to know the area and explore nearby sights.
When people travel for business, it’s understandable that they don’t want to carry any bulky, expensive equipment to work out with.
There are many options for travel workout equipment sets that you can find online. Seek out local trails and parks and get your blood flowing by doing bodyweight exercises such as lunges, squats, and crunches. If you don’t have access to local gyms, you can work out all the major muscle groups and improve your strength by using resistance bands. You can also pair resistance bands with simple exercises to intensify them.
Don’t Skip Breakfast
Before you begin your workday, do yourself a favor and start the day off right with breakfast. Not only will it keep your metabolism working, but it also will stave off cravings later in the day.
If you’re short on time in the mornings, a quick bowl of cereal with fruit is enough to get the energy you need to get going.
You’ll want to be careful with the sugar-heavy breakfast that hotels and conferences offer. Typically, 80 percent of the food you find at a continental breakfast varies from pieces of bread and pastries. Try to choose the healthiest, low sugar options. Complement some toast with peanut butter or deli meats, or opt for oatmeal with nuts and a little honey.
Instead of Airplane Food, Bring Your Own Snacks
Avoid unhealthy choices at the airport, save money, and take care of yourself by packing your airplane snacks. In-flight food doesn’t require much —these are easy to pack and quick to make. If you don’t know where to start, these healthy airplane food ideas will get you started:
- Raw Nuts.
- Seeds (Pumpkin or Sunflower)
- Unsweetened Dry Fruit
- Fresh fruits like berries, apples, bananas, or tangerines.
- Raw Trail Mix.
- Healthy Protein Bars.
- Celery Sticks.
- Banana Bread
- Chickpea Salad or Kale Chicken Salad
- Chicken and Vegetable Wrap
Be mindful that not all foods are compliant with TSA rules. Spreadable items like Nutella and liquid items like flavored yogurt, have to follow the liquid 3-1-1 rule. Nevertheless, if you purchase them after the security checkpoints, you can enjoy all the food and drink you want. On the other hand, some foods are allowed on a plane that you should avoid as a courtesy to your fellow passengers. For your everyone’s sake, skip messy, smelly foods and allergens like peanut butter and any peanut-based snacks. If possible avoid yogurt, since it tends to explode when it is opened while you are at a high altitude. Always open it very slowly to avoid an in-flight disaster.
Keeping healthy habits when traveling for work or pleasure may seem like a never-ending balancing act, but with a little work and planning ahead of time, you’ll be able to stay healthy no matter where your work takes you. Follow our blog closely to find more tried-and-true wellness tips.