How to Stay Fit and Eat Right on Business Trips
Business travel can be very stressful. There are tight schedules, important meetings, and goals that need to be accomplished. Adding to the stressful experience: delayed flights, extended hours on a plane, jet lag, chaotic agendas, and long hours of work. So chances are, you don’t have time to think about the quality of your sleep, an exercise routine, or eating habits.
Thus, if you want to have a more enjoyable business travel experience, you need to do some planning for your trip! A well-thought plan can keep you healthy, balanced, and energized during your busy days out of town. Here are some tips to include in your plans for before and during your business trips.
Choosing a Hotel:
- Select hotels that have a mini-fridge in the room. A microwave is a bonus.
- Opt for hotels that have a fitness center and grocery or convenience stores nearby.
- Choose a hotel with free continental breakfast.
Adjusting Your body
- Sleep earlier or later than usual for a few days to adjust your internal clock to a new time zone.
- Adjust your meals according to the time of your destination a couple days before
- Eat light and avoid fatty, spicy, and highly sugary foods the day before your flight.
- Go to bed early the night before of your flight.
- Try some ginger tea to calm your stomach just before you leave your house.
- Pack exercise accessories (jump rope or resistance bands) to workout in your hotel room.
- Bring your gym shoes and workout clothes for pre-scheduled exercise time.
- Bring an insulated water bottle.
- Load your suitcase and carry-on with non-perishable snacks, like unflavored nuts and seeds, dried unsweetened fruits, and natural energy bars, like Larabars, Ona Bars, or Simple Squares.
On the Way
- Sleep during your flight if it is nighttime at your destination, or stay awake if it’s not.
- Eat a healthy and balanced meal before your flight, and eat a non-perishable snack in flight, which of course you previously packed!
- Choose foods rich in potassium and low in sodium to avoid liquid retention during your flight and foods high in fiber to keep you satiated, like fruits and vegetables.
- Skip soups, cheeses, and sauces, and instead eat foods like fruits, orange juice, pumpkin seeds, and coconut flakes.
- Avoid sugary drinks, caffeine, and alcohol, and drink plenty of water to keep you hydrated.
At the Hotel
- Ask your hotel to empty your mini-bar and fill it with healthy snacks.
- Buy, at a grocery or convenience store, travel-friendly perishable foods, like raw (and preferably organic) carrots, broccoli flowers, cherry tomatoes and celery sticks, and plain organic yogurt.
- Skip your hotel’s breakfast sugary cereals, refined cakes, muffins, and bagels.
- Choose eggs, oatmeal, grits, fruits, yogurt, nuts, milk, coffee, and unsweetened tea.
- Avoid adding white sugar and artificial sweeteners to your drinks. A little bit of brown sugar, honey, and cinnamon are better choices.
At Work /Conferences
- Bring your snacks and water bottle to work, and avoid sugary and fatty drinks and food options.
- Drink tea, coffee and, most importantly, lots of water. When you are hydrated, you don’t have unhealthy food cravings.
- Eat in small amounts every 3-4 hours.
- Avoid eating too many calories at once – eating too much in one sitting, can make you feel tired and sleepy.
- Avoid eating refined and simple carbohydrates that will make you feel sluggish. So, avoid sodas, fruits juices, candy, and donuts.
- Eat protein with every meal to keep you satiated, your blood sugar under control, and your muscles strong. Complete protein sources are meats, eggs, dairy, quinoa, buckwheat, soy, quorn, Ezekiel bread, and grains with legumes (rice and beans, hummus and pita, peanut butter sandwich).
- Plan to go back to your room for a coffee-nap after lunch, if your conference/work location is near your hotel. For a coffee-nap, you drink some coffee and take a 20-minute nap. This will help you feel rejuvenated for your second round.
- Go outside to get some daily sunlight. This will help you feel energized as well.
At Restaurants /Happy Hours
If you are abroad and food safety is a concern:
- Choose only foods that were cooked properly and entirely, and eat them while they’re hot.
- Choose fruits that you can peel yourself, like bananas and oranges.
- Avoid tap water and ice, raw fruits and vegetables that have been washed in the local water, unpasteurized dairy products, uncooked seafood, and street food.
If food safety is not a concern, then:
- Avoid all-you-can-eat restaurants and fast food places.
- Order before your colleagues at a restaurant, so you will make healthy choices and stick to them.
- Skip bread or chips that come to your table.
- Say no to salty soups, deli meats, appetizers, drinks, and desserts to avoid excessive salt, sugar, saturated fat, and calories.
- Ask your waiter to remove croutons, mayo, yellow cheeses, and sour cream from your order.
- Swap sides of French fries or chips with extra portions of fruit or vegetables.
- Request small-size meal options or half orders. You can also ask for a box and take half of your meal to go. Another option is to split an order with your colleague.
- Choose only one carbohydrate at a time: either rice, corn, tortilla, bread, pasta, or potato.
- Order meals that are grilled, steamed, baked, roasted, broiled, boiled, and avoid fried options.
- Ask for sauces to be served on the side, and use them with caution.
- For salads, ask for olive oil, vinegar, or limes, all of which are healthier versions of salad dressings.
- For happy hour, only have one drink. Choose wines or distilled spirit with ice. Remember to drink plenty of water between your sips. You can also avoid alcohol, and instead order sparkling or seltzer water (not tonic water or club soda) with slices of lime.
Enjoy your safe and healthy travels!
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