Is your car litted with McDonalds cheeseburger wrappers & empty Diet Coke bottles? Eating on the go can be tough, but it doesn’t have to be! Here are my top five tips for making good choices whether you’re going by planes, trains or automobiles!
I have a couple trips this month & October is traditionally the time all my good eating habits get chucked out of the window. I’m busier, more stressed and tired and it’s easy for me to exercise minimal self control when I’m at meetings with centerpieces of mini-snickers bars, dinners out to Italian restaurants with heaping bowls of pasta, and rest stops with all of my favorite candy. I really love candy. For any of you who have ever seen the John Waters flick “Pecker” me resisting good n’plentys, twix, nerds, and twizzlers is like asking his character “little Chrissy” from the movie to lay off the sugar.
All that said- here are my top 5 tips that help me make healthy choices when I’m on the go.
- BYO– It helps to have thought ahead and packed some of your own healthy snacks to eat in the car or while waiting at an airport. Apples, dried apricots or other fruits, almonds or a high-protein granola bar are great to help with hunger, and not spend extra money! I almost always bring a pack of South Beach bars when I’m on a trip.
That way, if I wake up late I can still eat healthy, be filled up and not have to eat whatever unhealthy options might be waiting for me at a meeting. It helps to resist the giant bagels or doughnuts if I’m not ravenous.
- Pick your desserts. If I know that there’s going to be a special restaurant we’ll be going to or a nicer meal served, I’ll skip dessert at other meals & enjoy the nicer dessert later. I’d take cheesecake over a dry oatmeal cookie any day. The other thing is, most of the meetings I attend serve some sort of dessert at EVERY meal. I don’t eat like that when I’m at home, so there’s no reason to eat that way when I’m away from home. If you’re going to eat a dessert, choose when you’ll eat it rather than just eating what’s available.
- Use your technology. I love having an iPhone because it can actually help me make healthy choices if I use it! Often I’ll search what’s available at rest stops and find a Subway or Jimmy John’s sub shop to get lunch instead of the more greasy fast food options. You can do the same thing if you’ve got a GPS that has a similar function. Or just pick your lunch location before you leave for your trip based on where there’s a healthy option to eat. Consider this- a McDonalds double-cheeseburger is 480 calories, toss in even a small fry (210 calories) and you’re hitting almost 700 calories with a lot of those being high fat calories. Even if you order one of the higher calorie options at Subway- like my fave, the cold cut trio, it’s still only 440 calories WITH all the veggie toppings! Actually when I looked up the calories in some of my favorite Jimmy Johns subs, I was shocked to find that my favorite sub- the Beach Club was 915 calories! It always helps to check things out at sites like calorie count to find out how many calories you’re actually eating. Guess I’ll be picking a different sandwich our asking for the Beach Club without cheese & mayo! . The other thing I love about the iPhone is the apps- This past spring I was using the Lose It! app and tracking how many calories I was eating during trips compared with how I ate at home. Now, I’m not one to squelch a celebration, so the nights I go to fun places like Ballydoyle’s
in Downers Grove, IL- I just enjoy the food & drinks. Then the next day I make less indulgent choices or go out for a walk at lunch break rather than sitting around eating cookies and drinking coffee. In fact, today my colleagues & I have decided to do some yoga during lunch to help us move & stretch.
- Load up on the fruits and veggies. Obviously since I advocate getting 5 fruits or veggies a day, I try to do this when I’m traveling as well. This is really difficult because most hotels or conference centers are really carb heavy & usually the veggies are of the gross steamed variety. However, there’s usually salad or at least one veggie option. And if you bring your own bag of dried fruit, you can still have the option to eat that if you’re hungry. You can also grab a piece of fruit at another meal to eat for dessert so you can get a sweet fix & get your five!
- Be a tourist. What I mean by this is eating stuff you normally wouldn’t eat at home. When I’m in an airport, I typically try to find a deli-style restaurant or sushi & order a perrier and some kind of salad or sandwich. I eat sushi, salads and sandwiches at home, but for some reason drinking Perrier makes it feel special! In fact, drinking Perrier has become one of my travel traditions! For some reason it makes me feel sophisticated :). It also makes me feel much better being hydrated with water than swilling Diet Coke and eating some greasy McDonalds fries.
Though this is the 6th tip- this is the most helpful for me- Don’t beat yourself up for what you eat on a trip. Even the next day you can make healthy choices. You don’t have to wait until you get home! It’s trying to break out of this all-or-nothing mentality that’s really helped me to see each day as a new start when it comes to eating healthy.