Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks Frappuccinos and Airport Gummy Bears, oh my! This used to be a regular menu for my travel days, but I had to change it after I started traveling more than I was home. The idea of eating junk food and eating quick while traveling originated from my childhood. A trip to the mountains meant I could indulge myself in as much Surge and sugar coated sugar I could down in a weekend. My parents only allowed me to partake in such junk food on vacation because this was the only time I had an endless amount of room to run around and let the sugar rush monster wear itself out.
When I began traveling for work, the weekly repetition of Dunkin’ Donuts (because that’s the only thing open at 5 am in an airport), and airport gummy bears took over my body and started creating life size gummy bear out of my body. I found myself gaining more and more weight as the months went on. “What?! I don’t gain weight. I have a high metabolism. This is shenanigans!” That time in life when your childhood crosses the rainbow bridge into adulthood has arrived. My body’s natural, fast metabolism has been murdered by my college years and the forgotten treadmill. The 6 cans of Coors Light in a night and the late night pizza began to give me heartburn. This only meant one thing, I have to actually start paying attention to what I eat, only drink 3 beers a night and get to bed by 10:00 PM, or wake up suffering from what some people call a hangover. Adulting is no fun, but neither are hangovers. After a year of cleaning up my traveling act, here are a few tips and tricks that I have found help me out. Remember everyone is different, find what works for you and adjust it as needed.
- Ditch the Sugary Coffee- Coffee is essential to many peoples lives. It gives us the kick we need to get started in the morning and keeps you regular.When traveling, Starbucks is the place to stop for coffee. You can find it in every major airport, hotels, and every corner in a big city. The ease of slapping down a gift card and starting your day off with a “little” treat 5 days a week makes sense. Let’s talk about these Starbucks Frappuccinos ® and flavored latte’s we buy in the airports and throughout the week when we travel. Let’s look at a White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino® with whipped cream. You are looking at 440 calories (almost a Big Mac) and 67 grams of sugar (almost 2 cans of Coke) which is way over the suggested 27 grams a day. Drinking your calories just in your coffee and in-taking over the amount of sugar you should have in one day first thing in the morning, doesn’t leave any room for the rest of your day. What do you think will happen? Let me help. I know it is not everyone’s jam to drink black coffee, but you don’t have to go that far. Instead of that White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino ® order a brewed coffee (hot or iced) with a pump of white mocha and add some milk or half and half to it. This will give you flavor and the creaminess to your coffee with out the insane amount of calories and sugar. This little trick not only tastes delicious, but it still gives you boost of energy you need from coffee and saves you about $3 every time you order.
- Pack Your Own Snacks- This tip is a little easier than letting go of your favorite Starbucks drink. If you are anything like me, you love gummy bears, sour candy, snickers bars and a Dr. Pepper while you are waiting for your plane or while you are watching that in flight movie. The night before your flight pack up some healthy snacks in your carry on. It is a little scary with TSA checking everything, but trust me you can take your own food, as long as its not a shake or any type of liquid. I like to make my own Ziploc of dried fruit and nuts, another Ziploc with celery and to go peanut butter or a bag of Goldfish. Also, toss in a refillable water bottle. You can use this not only in the airport, but throughout your entire trip. A lot of times when I travel I do a lot of walking from hotel to work to eating and I always carry either a back pack or a large bag. Toss in your water bottle so you always have something to drink with you. It is always nice to have something to hydrate me after a few glasses of wine.
- Keep Your Exercise Routine- Exercising is one of the hardest things for me when I travel. It is so easy to see work travel as a “vacation” because you are staying in a hotel and visiting places you have never been. Take advantage of the fact that you are in a new place you haven’t seen before. A lot of us when we travel for work, we don’t get much of an opportunity to sight see or see what is outside of the hotel walls. This is your opportunity. Toss on those running shoes, get outside and run. You will get to see what is around your area and maybe even find a restaurant you want to try out later that day. If the weather is not cooperating, always have a back up. Most hotels these days are beginning to focus on healthier living. With that comes a fitness center. Come up with a workout plan for yourself in a hotel gym and try it out. Run for 20 minutes on the treadmill, 100 sit ups and a few minutes lifting weights. Whatever exercise routine you have at home, bring it with you.
- Eat Smart- The absolute hardest part of traveling, is eating right. Unless you are staying at a house you rented through Air BNB or you are at an extended stay hotel with a kitchen in your room, your options for eating is in restaurants or fast food. If you are so lucky to have a kitchen in your room , utilize it. Take a few minutes to go to the local grocery store or market and pick up your food for the week. This will save the company some money as well as ensure you eat healthier. If you are not one of the lucky ones and you are trying to eat healthy, be smart about it.
- Ask how food is prepared- Lucky for you, a lot of restaurants are very understanding with dietary needs these days. Ask your server to have the food cooked your way. For example, if you are trying to cut out sugar, ask them what they sprinkle on the steak or put in the sauce drizzled over your food. If there is sugar as if you can either ask they not use the added sugar, or find an alternative.
- Vegetables are your friend– Side dishes are what gets me. I love mac and cheese, loaded mashed potatoes, fried okra, french fries, and everything else fried and cheesy. The sides is where the meal can make or break you. Loaded mashed potatoes or baked potatoes are “loaded” with fat, dairy and calories. As for your mashed potatoes and baked potatoes with just butter. If you want to be a little better, double up on the veggies they offer.
- Order from the “low fat, light, gluten free” menu. Most chains will list the calories and nutritional content on this portion of the menu
- Skip the Fancy Drinks– If you must order alcohol because you are at a meeting with owners,clients or you have just had a rough day and need some sort of vice, order yourself a glass of wine, light beer or Vodka Tonic rather than the Margarita.
You have already done the hardest part, decide this is something you want to do. The next step is getting started. You got this!