Survival Guide for the Business Traveler

Eating well is a daunting task enough. Eating well on the road is an even greater challenge. Even if you are one of the fortunate who has no to minimal travel required for work, the abundance of fast food and busy schedules that interfere with planning meals makes good nutrition seem almost impossible. Wrong! As in most things in life, it comes down to choice and personal responsibility. It has been my experience that has taught me that most are just the victims of poor information. So what better way to start the New Year than with some good advice for eating healthy even on the road?

1) Pack for the plane.

According to the U.S. Travel Association, there are 405 million person-trips for business each year, 16 percent of which are by air travel. Most airlines have gone away from including food for your trip and replacing it with soda and pretzels. If you think that constitutes a healthy snack, think again. Security does not stop you from taking food on a plane, so pack some fruit such as apples, slice up some veggies, nuts (sold in most terminal stores), peanut butter sandwiches, and other “easy to carry” foods on the plane. For flights of three hours and less, you really shouldn’t need to buy any food in an airport or on a plane. It’s that simple. And take something to read or watch to the airport so you don’t get bored and end up passing time in a restaurant.

2) Publicly record your food intake.

Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter have become so popular in letting the world know what you are doing, why not tell them how you’re eating healthy on the road and how you are doing it. It is a research proven fact that the more you write down what you eat the more awareness you have about what goes into your mouth. Plus, when you get accountability and social support through those sites, you’ll think twice before going to the neon lit burger joint.

3) Just say NO to ALL liquid calories while traveling.

This is something you should be doing most of the time anyway, but if you make a rule that you aren’t going to drink any calories while traveling for business, then you’ll cut thousands of calories from your diet. If not drinking alcohol at a business dinner is considered a crime against humanity in your industry, then stick to wine or beer and drink it slow. Also, avoid all juices, sodas, and other sugary drinks and replace with good ol’ water.

4) Plan your day.

The dreaded “plan” something. If you are traveling and have a busy day, plan when and what you are going to eat and stick to that. Most people simply get into trouble when they haven’t thought ahead. Know what you are going to do and stick to it.

5) Realize you are going to “offend someone.”

If you are traveling for business and your host wants you to eat a big steak, have lots of wine, and then dessert, you have two choices. You can (a), go along with their plan and offend yourself (ending up feeling guilty all night and the next day); or, (b) You can politely say “No, thanks” and you might have to put up with some peer pressure (instead of gut pressure) but at least you won’t feel like you screwed up.  Again, it comes down to choice.

6) Reward yourself.

There’s no reason to feel that you have to deplete yourself of all the indulgences in life. You only live once, but with a healthy balance and reward system, even you can feel better about your choices. Plan a reward meal each week and stick to rewarding at just one meal…not every meal.  Save it for something good. Skip the hotel continental breakfast when you could save your reward for an amazing steak dinner at night.

7) Choose wisely at dinner.

If you want to have a nice steak, glass of wine, and some dessert, then skip the bread.  Do you serve yourself a basket of bread when you eat at home? Fill up on the veggies so you get to have what you want without blowing your calorie-needs limit.

8) Eat fruits and vegetables at every opportunity.

Whenever you get fruits or vegetables offered at breakfast, lunch, or dinner, make sure to focus your meal around those. It is very difficult to eat too many fruits and vegetables and they will leave you feeling fuller.

9) Avoid mindless eating.

If you are heading to a cocktail reception before dinner, make a plan and stick to it. If you must drink, keep it to a minimum, and stick to the raw vegetables rather than the high-calorie meat-filled pastries. Just like with bread at a restaurant, don’t let the hors d’oeuvres ruin your dinner, your trip, or your nutrition.