If you travel often, it’s likely that, alongside some possible perks—flying in business class, staying at nice hotels, seeing sights or enjoying fresh local fare—you may find it challenging to maintain healthful eating and fitness habits. While a few “off” days won’t completely derail you, the change in routine can leave you feeling sluggish and might make it difficult for you to bring your A-game to work.
To keep your healthful habits intact during your next business trip, here are four solutions to common challenges:
1. The problem: I don’t eat like this.
The solution: While you may not have much—or any—say in what kind of food is available at work-related events, come prepared to prevent hunger in case you don’t like the offerings. Before you hit the road, pack snack bags filled with 200- to 300-calorie portions of nonperishable foods that contain protein and fiber to fill gaps at meals or to provide mini-meals when the pickings are slim. Examples include nuts and seeds, soy nuts, dry-roasted edamame, whole-grain and low-sugar cereal, or dried fruit without added sugar. [Disclosure: I am a spokeswoman for Planters Peanuts.]
2. The problem: There’s too much food.
The solution: If you’re offered more meals or courses than you typically eat, remember that you’re in charge of how much you consume. Set yourself up for eating success by keeping a few portable tools in your bag or briefcase to empower you to put the brakes on mindless eating or overeating. When you’re satisfied but not stuffed, suck on a sugar-free mint, pop in a breath strip, or take a bathroom break to brush your teeth and swig from a travel-size mouthwash.
3. The problem: I have no time to exercise.
The solution: Even if you can’t get to the gym, you can always find ways to be more active if you create the opportunities. While waiting for your flight, walk around the airport, skip the moving walkways, and climb the stairs instead of taking elevators and escalators. Before, in between or after events, do jumping jacks, lunges, squats, planks, crunches or pushups in your hotel room. And instead of sitting through every meeting or lecture, take time to stand up in the back of the room to reduce sedentary time and stay awake, alert and focused.
4. The problem: There’s too much drinking.
The solution: Whether you’re attending a cocktail party or a dinner, the opportunities (and pressure) to drink on business trips may seem endless. Although some alcohol won’t ruin you, too much can lead to overeating and diminish the quality of your sleep. If you choose to drink, aim for no more than one or two drinks—one drink equals 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of light beer or 1.5 ounces of liquor. To minimize empty calorie intake, take small, slow sips; alternate alcoholic beverages with seltzer water spritzed with lemon; or trade alcohol for a small dessert.
This article originally appeared in the August 2016 issue of SUCCESS magazine.
Elisa Zied is an award-winning New York State certified dietitian nutritionist and the author of Younger Next Week (Harlequin Nonfiction) and three other consumer titles. A past spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, she received a bachelor's in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania and a master's in clinical nutrition from New York University. For more than two decades, she has garnered millions of media impressions through her TV appearances, articles and blogs. Having recently discovered her passion for reading and writing fiction, she is currently working on her first novel. She lives in New York City with her husband of 24 years and her two sons. When she’s not reading, she enjoys long walks and hikes, hula hooping, seeing Broadway shows and movies, attending book signings and festivals, and interviewing her favorite authors for her Food, Fitness & Fiction blog.