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Strategies for Eating on the Run and Traveling
By Kathy B. Glazer   View more articles by this author
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February 09

Do you have a busy lifestyle? Do you travel a lot?   No time to cook?  Do you often pick up fast food at the last minute for a meal?  Do you skip meals?   Well here are some tips to help you eat healthy while traveling or running around town.

First, let’s talk about the consequences to your health of skipping meals. Skipping meals will lower your metabolism, lower your blood sugar and may cause hypoglycemia (meaning your blood sugar is too low).  This can increase cravings, may cause fatigue, irritability, inability to concentrate, and anxiety. Some may rely on caffeinated, sugary, or non-nutritive drinks to compensate.  These fixes can decrease appetite or, distort awareness of hunger.   Bringing this stress level to the table can cause some to eat too much, and some to not eat enough.  Unconscious eating may occur later with meal skipping.  Avoid the typical pattern of eating little all day and then a large meal late at night. This will be out of sync with metabolic needs and, could cause digestive problems and sleep problems.  Consequences of disordered eating could cause you to consume more calories than you need for your activity level, which in turn would cause weight gain, and obesity.  Also you would not get enough essential nutrients from the foods you choose.  You could also lack fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants linked to cancer, heart disease and premature aging.

Okay now what should you do?

Here are some planning and general tips:

  1. Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast. Take it with you if you run out of time.
  2. Eat smaller, more frequent meals/ snacks.
  3. Plan ahead for busy times (make up a menu plan).
  4. Shop from a list.
  5. Cook extra when you have time (do batch cooking).

Here are some food tips:

  1. Breakfast foods should include fruit & whole grains. (OJ, or 1/2 banana, a whole wheat English muffin or oatmeal)
  2. Limit caffeine, sugar and fat in foods as there is little or no nutritional value in these ingredients.
  3. Be choosy about beverages; get complex carbohydrates and healthy fats.
  4. Focus on getting the nutrients you need.
  5. Take time to enjoy your meals.

Planning is the key to keep things in balance.  You should think about the answers to the following questions.  Are you traveling?  Where are you going (city/countryside, business/pleasure)?  Are you familiar with the food at your destination?  Do some advanced research.  Where are you staying (a hotel, B&B, apartment, relative’s home)?  Is there going to be a small refrigerator or microwave in the room?  Will you have access to a kitchen?  Is there a local market or convenience store nearby?  Is there a gym or pool in the hotel or nearby?  Take sports clothes with you.  How are you getting to your destination? (Car, train, airplane?)  Do you need to take food with you?

Here are some airport and air travel tips:

  1. Avoid fast food and watch portion sizes.
  2. Avoid fried foods and regular soft drinks.
  3. Look for low fat yogurt, fresh fruit and water.
  4. Take an empty water bottle through security and fill it up on the other side. (in U.S.)
  5. Pack protein bars (160- 170 calories), dried unsweetened cereal, popcorn and fresh fruit for snacks.

Suggested Food Choices:

  1. Subway 6 inch sandwiches- no sauce (use mustard or low fat dressing)
  2. Subway wraps or veggie wraps
  3. Grilled Chicken sandwiches
  4. Plain Hamburger (no fries)
  5. Salads with grilled chicken (use low fat dressing)
  6. Taco Bell bean burrito (small)

On airplanes avoid peanuts, pretzels, and other salty snacks. Take you own snacks. Order special meals if available on long distance travel (low cholesterol, low calorie, diabetic, vegetarian etc). Avoid alcohol and drink lots of water. Flying can be dehydrating.

In restaurants you should choose wisely.  Check out portion sizes of other diner’s meals.  Ask for a doggy bag for half at the beginning of the meal.  Order appetizer, soup & or salad to cut down the size of portions. Skip the bread and ask the waiter not to bring any to the table. Remember to ask for salad dressing on the side. Avoid all you can eat buffets, people over-eat even if it’s a small sample of each dish. Order foods baked, broiled, poached or stir fried.  Ask for any sauces on the side. Avoid fried and breaded foods. Consider asking for double vegetables and omit the starch (potatoes, rice, noodles).  Ask for fish cooked broiled dry or with lemon or tomato juice (butter adds lots of calories).  With practice and planning, these few tips can help you stickK with your weight loss plan and allow you to follow-through on eating well for health and energy.

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