When I think of eating on the road, a few things come to mind:
*Marni-friendly options (vegetarian)
There's nothing worse than being hungry, stuck in traffic and in a hurry. Put all three things together and you are likely to lose focus of your mission of eating healthy. Whether you are traveling by plane or by car, traveling has a way of making the healthy and active individual feel a bit stressed and overwhelmed when it comes to making healthy and affordable choices outside of his/her comfort zone.
Maybe I'm a bit frugal, but when I travel I just hate spending money on non-filling foods. If I try to rely on foods on the road or in the airport, I feel as if I am always hungry and just throwing away money. In my opinion, I want my money to go to good use if I am spending $10 on lunch in the airport. You better believe I am going to pick a meal higher in fat and/or calories than I am use to because there is no way that I will pay $10 for a bowl of lettuce, croutons and tomatoes...only to be starving 10 minutes later. I would rather buy an airport Frosty and top it with a serving of trail mix than buy an airport salad.
Then there is the road. From March until Nov., Karel and I (and Campy) travel a lot for races. It's one thing to find a place that has healthy food but trying to find a place that has healthy vegetarian food is another thing. Sure, I could buy a salad or wrap but I always eat those foods. I enjoy trying new foods and new places when we travel but I am still eating like a health-conscious athlete.
A motto that I live by is If you eat well most of the time, you don't have to worry about the rest of the time.
Therefore, it is important that you get a little creative when you travel in an effort to still feel as if you have control over what you put in your mouth. In addition to not feeling deprived on a weekly basis, I think we should all look forward to traveling as an opportunity to get out of our comfort zone. Maybe it's McDonald's french fries, a Coke, a restaurant burger, a Starbucks/Panera bakery item or Cold Stone ice cream. I think everyone has an item that wouldn't be eaten on a daily basis but a Dairy Queen Blizzard, 1-2 times per year, will not make you overweight or will ruin your performance at a race.
For many of us, we travel to race....or is it race to travel??? :)
Whichever way you look at it, it is nice to be somewhere new and do what you love. Whether you are training in a new place, taking part in an athletic event or racing outside your home-town, there is absolutely no reason to fear eating healthy on the road. More so, if you are burning calories, there is no reason why you can't indulge in the occasional out-of-town treat. However, if your love for out-of-town training turns into a love for training in order to eat whatever you want (and however much you want), than it is important to remind yourself that ultimately, food is the fuel to your workouts. 1 stack of pancakes at IHOP will not hurt performance after a 80-mile ride in the hills/mountains but perhaps, a 3 course-breakfast after an hour run on the hotel treadmill is not necessary after every single workout when traveling.
Regardless if you are traveling for an athletic event, traveling for fun or traveling for work, it is important that you keep in mind the principles of eating healthy which allow you to live a healthy and active life. If you haven't quite figured out what do to to maintain or lose weight, there are many tips that health-conscious individual should apply when eating on the road.
*If you've ever traveled with me, you know that I practice what I preach.
Traveling by car:
1) Know ahead of time where you will eat, before you get hungry.
2) Bring healthy, single-serving and/or portioned-controlled snacks in the car - fruit, veggies, yogurt, canned fruit, applesauce, trail mix, cereal, string cheese, nuts, granola bars and water.
3) Pack "meals" for the road - Make your own wraps or sandwiches (PB&J).
4) Invest in a good cooler and/or large lunchbox.
5) Travel with sugar-free gum.
6) Bring along 1-2 gallons of water and a water bottle (never travel to a race by car, without your own water).
7) Be creative - gas stations typically have microwaves and/or hot water. Bring along oatmeal or 100-calorie bags of popcorn for a satisfying snack.
Traveling by plane:
1) Eat before you arrive to the airport.
2) Bring plenty of pre-portioned snacks - nuts, granola bars, apple, string cheese. Buying trail mix at Big Lots, Wal-mart or Publix can be much more affordable than in the airport. However, if you are in the airport, and hungry, trail mix is a better option than cookies or fast-food.
3) Bring your own lunch - I've never had a problem bringing on grapes, a sandwich and yogurt (although liquids such as yogurt may be counted as more than 3 ounces).
4) Opt for protein and healthy fat with your meal. This will be one of very few occasions where it's better to select salads and vegetarian-items with cheese in an effort to feel satisfied with your meal (you can limit the cheese to a slice or two to still save calories). If tofu or vegetarian burgers are available, be sure to add that to your meal. PB&J at Atlanta Bread or Panera is also a great choice (ask for the PB and Jelly to be in individual cups so you can control the portions).
5) Bring protein and meal replacement bars - there's nothing worse than being rushed or sitting on a plane, without a meal. Avoid bars high in sugar alcohols or with an icy coating (saturated fat). Evaluate your ingredients to select the best option.
6) Bring an empty water bottle to the airport - after security, fill up your bottle at the water fountain to stay hydrated during your flight.
7) Be frugal - if you are going to spend your money on a healthy meal, what will make you feel most satisfied. Keep yourself on a tight budget when traveling so that your money goes to good use.
8) Eat every few hours - do not arrive to your destination starving.
9) Stay healthy - while protein and fat will keep you satisfied longer, there are healthy food choices that will keep your tummy happy and your insides clean.
Staying in a hotel
1) Stay in a clean, reasonably-priced hotel - Days Inn is one of our favorites. They have large refrigerators and microwaves in the room, they have free internet, they usually allow pets and they have some-type of continental breakfast (some better than others). Expensive hotels typically have none of the above. Before booking a hotel, find a hotel with amenities that will allow you to eat healthy on the road.
2) Google - find healthy places to eat. If you are like me, I love trying new places. However, I try to locate on-line nutrition-guides or at least, on-line menus's, to be prepared.
3) Be prepared- before going out to eat, know exactly what you are in the mood for and what you will order. Don't arrive to a restaurant hungry, eat a small snack (protein or fiber, around 50-80 calories) before leaving the hotel.
4) Drink plenty of water.
5) Don't forget to eat breakfast - oatmeal can be made from the hot water in your coffee pot, you can use a microwave in the kitchen if one isn't available in your room, ice buckets will keep hard-boiled eggs, milk and yogurt chilled for hours.
6) Eat your fruits and veggies - it's really easy to forget to eat these when you travel. Look for a local grocery to pick up a few servings, especially if you aren't ordering a colorful-looking meal at a restaurant.
7) Don't forget about protein - specifically for my vegetarians, mom-and-pop restaurants or diners have a tendency to cook-to-order. Cottage cheese, skim milk and egg whites are great sources of protein to add to your meal.
Here's my typical traveling list:
*Homemade Trail mix (cheerios, raisins, nuts, sunflower seeds)
*Antibacterial gel (don't leave home without it)
*Low fat Yogurt
*Fiber one bar or Hammer bar
*PB (either in a baggy or travel-size)
*Plastic spoon and napkins
*Fruit (apples, grapes) and veggies (carrots)
*Sandwiches (the Panini maker comes in really handy when I want to make a restaurant-style sandwich or a yummy PB&J)
Do you have any must-haves for traveling?