When you’re traveling out of town for work, the last thing you want to do is watch what you eat. Getting away, even if it’s for work, can put you in the mindset of saying yes to that second (or third) jelly donut in the morning. Weight gain from traveling may not only be caused by the mass quantities of chips and queso you consumed, but also those never-ending pitchers of margaritas after a long day of client meetings and conferences. Not only are sugary, alcoholic beverages jam-packed with more calories than you’d like to count, it has been proven that you are more likely to overeat when alcohol is being consumed along with food. Sticking to a healthy diet doesn’t have to feel like such a chore, though, and traveling doesn’t have to equate to unhealthy eating.
Alexandra M. Lykes, a professional fitness chef and owner of HonestMe Foods has some helpful tips and advice for those planning on being away for work anytime soon. Lykes has successfully built her own brand out of her own desire to please her palate and knows all too well how difficult it can be to combat tempting food cravings, especially while traveling.
Embrace the Vacation Experience
According to Lykes, traveling can be chemically strenuous on our bodies; your endorphins are revved up, your sensory glands are pumping, your bags are packed and you’re ready to go! Because it is so easy for us to naturally become anxious while traveling, it is important to remember that our body’s number one job is to remain as close to its homeostatic state as possible. Basically, you just need to maintain a healthy balance and equilibrium to avoid setting yourself up for a wide range of potential physiological problems.
Rather than worrying about your diet, which can raise cortisone levels and keep your body out of a healthy homeostatic state, Lykes suggests it’s much better to embrace the cultural experience and allow yourself to indulge consciously. “We travel to broaden ourselves, internally and externally,” she says. “Allowing yourself to have an open mind might lead you to something you never knew you would love (i.e. a certain fish, a different way chicken is cooked, etc). Cooking is an art itself, there is tradition, meaning, culture, and it is waiting to be unlocked and discovered by you!” Rather than focusing so much on what you shouldn’t do, let yourself enjoy your time away. If you begin restricting yourself against certain foods or beverages you see and want to try, you might actually be setting yourself up to binge eat later.
Always Keep it Simple
Lykes further explains that psychology plays a huge role when choosing what foods we eat and since our happy hormone (dopamine) is released when we travel, our self-restraint to those deliciously devious macaroons is suddenly inhibited. When in doubt, Lykes suggests asking yourself: how will I feel after I eat this? Answering this question will automatically help you make smarter eating choices.
Here are more of Lykes’ quick and easy tips:
- EAT; your body needs fuel in order to function properly. Don’t skip out on meals and keep yourself nourished throughout the day to avoid binge eating later.
- Make a mental note of what activities you will be doing that day and determine how much fuel you will need. If you will be doing any strenuous, outdoor activities, you will want to plan for a high-energy, protein-rich breakfast.
- If you’ve heard of the term “best bang for your buck”, think of your body the same way and ask yourself what benefits your body will get from eating a certain food before you select it.
- Drink coconut water and almond milk. They contain good fats that rehydrate your joints and cells, allowing you to be on your “A” game.
- Don’t be scared of eating carbohydrates. When you’re traveling and busy with activities, your body is actually exercising without even knowing it.
- Lykes’ sweet tooth rule: One bite “bad,” two bites “good.” A trick to indulging in dessert is taking small, multiple bites because you feel like you’re eating more (when you’re really not).
- Challenge yourself to have an open mind, seeing travel as a positive way to embrace new recipes that you get to take home!
Traveling in and of itself can cause stress on the body, which can actually cause you to get sick. It’s not worth worrying and stressing about “eating healthy.” It’s better to just focus on your work and enjoy traveling while also being aware of what you are eating and how much of it. If you worry too much and start limiting yourself, you will only make your cravings grow stronger, and it will become more difficult to remain disciplined. This can cause you to binge eat more food later on which is far more worse for your body. The most important thing to remember is to keep an “everything in moderation” attitude and be aware of the effects the foods you are eating will have on your body, whether good or bad. Lykes’ last bit of advice for avid business travelers is that traveling can be exhausting on the body, as well as pre-flight jitters; take the time to focus on your travels and if all else fails, just simply eat from the Earth!
Lauren is an avid world-traveler with a passion for start-ups & entrepreneurship.