Today I am talking about how to eat healthfully while you travel. Firstly, we need to be super clear on what healthy eating actually means; if we take the definitions that I’ve used before in the podcast and what we know from science and the literature, we see that we need to be at calorie maintenance for years and years in order to maintain our body weight. To remain free of lifestyle related diseases like diabetes and obesity, heart disease, and others illnesses of this type.
Whilst at calorie maintenance we also need to make sure that we have plenty of nutrient dense foods, so plenty of foods that are high in vitamins and minerals such as meats, fruits and vegetables, starchy carbohydrates and fibre, all of those foods. Now, within that, that doesn’t mean that we cannot have food on the go, that we cannot have convenience foods or foods that are readily available to us. These thoughts have stemmed from a fitness industry obsessed with eating clean, obsessed with making everything ourselves even growing our own food and eating and making everything from scratch.
Healthy eating doesn’t have to be that way, don’t get me wrong, it can help to make a lot of the foods yourself because there will often be lower calories in those foods and all of those positives from it. But when you’re travelling, this is going to be near impossible to do unless you prepare food in advance. If you want to do that fair play! Go ahead, prepare the food in advance. But if you don’t have the time for that or you haven’t prepared food in advance, you need to know that there are options available that are going to allow you to hit a higher protein target, still provide you with nutrients, maybe get some fruit and veggies on board, and still allow you to stick to your calorie requirements for that day. Foods you can enjoy without being a social hermit, a social recluse without having to throw your health and fitness skills out of the window for want of a better expression.
So, my first step when travelling personally and what I recommend my clients do as well, is to always look for options of protein, you can get high protein sandwiches, you can get protein bars, jerky and cooked meats, salad options with extra protein. These days when you travel, you can find just about anything on the road on the motorways from an m&s or Waitrose, even WH Smith have great options these days. So you really are limited by your mindset when it comes to this whole “I can’t eat well because I’m travelling” idea. If you’re thinking about airport food or food from restaurants, things like that, these still can fit in within a healthy eating regime. So just because you haven’t prepared your own food, just because you can’t get cooked meat and a salad from m&s, doesn’t mean that you have to throw your goals out the window and just go ahead and eat, McDonald’s or Burger King, or whatever the nearest fast food is.
However, again, because of my mindset around calorie intake, your choices also depend on what you’ve had that week, depend on what you’ve had that day and depend on your goals within that time. Having a Burger King, or McDonald’s because you’re travelling and you really want it could be a viable option. Personally, on a very busy day when I was jumping between appointments and rehearsals, I grabbed a McDonald’s, I had the chicken legend sandwich, I got the fruit bag and the salad bag, and I had it with a water at the time because it was the evening so I didn’t want to have a Diet Coke. That comes around 600 calories or so, which for me as a 95 kilo male, who’s reasonably active but quite sedentary in terms of work nowadays, that’s fine, I can fit that in, even if you’re a small female fitting in a 600 calorie McDonald’s wouldn’t be difficult for you to do. So, how do you eat healthfully on the travel on the road. Just by not eating like a complete another dickhead really is the answer to that question.
Look for protein. Look for fruits and vegetables where you can be aware of your overall calories for that day and adjust the rest of your day to fit around the options that you get when you’re out on the road. If worse comes to worse, you could always just do an extended fast during the travel period and wait until you’re in a position where you can cook or you have some home cooked food, if that’s your preference.