The "No Messing Around" Guide to Eating Healthy on the Road as a Professional

The Big Challenge:

It's very difficult to eat healthy and/or lose weight while traveling professionally each week.

The reactive assumption, without breaking down the problem: It's IMPOSSIBLE to eat healthily and lose weight on the road. Between limited options and the demands of work, friends, and family, I'm left with very few options and control! Insert dramatic sigh here. :)

The breakdown: It's amazing how often I jumped to wrongful, emotionally-driven assumptions when I first noticed a problem-especially when it came to my health at an earlier age. What a state of stress trying to take care of my health....which is ironic, of course! I easily blamed a lack of resources, work, and everyone else. While at times for fair reasons, I lose sympathy when I allow it to happen consistently.

Last year my wife, son, and mother-in-law drove 13 hours over 2 days from Chicago to Washington D.C. last summer. The food options were sparse and, regarding health, absolutely awful. Meat, cheese, bun, cola....meat, cheese, bun, cola....a consistent offering down highway 94 throughout Indiana, Ohio, and more. I feel you!!!! I can't imagine traveling to rural and small towns across America with the limited offerings of McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Applebees, and Chilis.

Maybe you are guilty of these same tendencies or dealt with similar challenges. Ultimately, if you recognize this, it's probably time to change it. If you feel a lack of control, then it's time to take control of the situation. Instead of saying, "There are no options in the middle-of-nowhere Ohio, Michael," try to say "I will find viable options in a 5-10 radius of my hotel and workplace. Instead of saying, "Work is so demanding on the road that I don't have the time to travel somewhere for healthy food options," try to say "I will travel to the nearest grocery store and stockpile my refrigerator-equipped room with healthy lunch options." The theme: Changing the defeatist self-talk to "I will" statements. What I suggest moving forward will be fruitful unless you are willing to find a solution...wanting to make a change. I've made a list of the usual excuses/reasons why eating healthy is tough on the road and the solutions with their respective implications. Use each of the strategies when deemed most appropriate for your current situation and carefully consider the drawbacks of each as well. Ultimately, you can make at least one of the options work daily with a change of mindset, a reflection on priorities, and a willingness to dedicate an additional 0-30 minutes towards your diet. No matter what you choose, though, don't forget that PLANNING MATTERS.

Solutions/Implications


Problem:
I don't know what to eat
Solution:
Determine the best nutrition combination for you
Implication:
We should always eat and move with intent. If you don't know what to eat, you need establish to establish your nutrition guidelines and principles beforehand (with a personal trainer, your Google machine, or other trusted professionals). This foundation will be your starting point for any eating decision and the measure of how far you pushed beyond the perfect combination. Use the article "Read How to Lose Weight Without Exercise" and use "The Plate" as your reference to eating on the road. On the other hand, this process takes the time, and you simply don't have it. Unfortunately, this is a non-negotiable solution. You must do complete this action before attempting anything else (especially it guides all approaches). You don't have to do this alone. Be patient and learn what you need to do while sitting on a plane.

Problem:
I find myself constantly snacking on unhealthy options when I fly
Solution:
Pack non-perishables for the trip
Implication:
You can easily packed dried, unsweetened and unsulfered fruit, nuts, and more for your travels. Although they will not meet all of your nutritional needs, they will hinder some indulgences. On the other hand, space could be a factor with your checked and/or carryon luggage and may limit your available space.

Problem:
There aren't any healthy options at the airport
Solution:
Review your guidelines on nutrition and determine if you’re overlooking something or have something delivered before you depart to the airport
Implication:
Now airports are offering more and more options that fall in the range of the dietary suggestions you’ll find in the article "Read How to Lose Weight Without Exercise". You will also find specific healthy fast food menu items in the article "37 Snack Ideas for Weight Loss (And You Won’t Be Bored)”…..which really gives small meal ideas for at home and on the road. On the hand, smaller airports truly may have limited options. In that case, though, you could pick something up on the way to the airport or have it delivered wherever you are before your departure.

Problem:
When I arrive, I rarely have time to fit anything else into my schedule
Solution:
Schedule your flight to arrive an hour earlier than normal
Implication:
Since lack of time typically impedes the healthy eating process, you can give yourself more time to prepare and research healthy food options by scheduling your flight an hour earlier than normal. On the other hand, the hour must be taken from somewhere (hopefully not sleep), and you may not have any time to spare.

Problem:
I don't know where to eat healthy food
Solution:
Find viable options in a 5-10 radius of my hotel and workplace
Implication:
With technology and the endless phone apps, you can easily find restaurants, diners, and more along the route from your hotel to the workplace. Go to Google Maps and type in "Restaurants (Town or City)" and find the options on your path. Visit the website and review their menus. Although diners or family restaurants typically offer many unhealthy options, you might be surprised by 3-4 alternatives on a usual expansive menu (think stir fry or skillet). You will also find specific healthy fast food menu items in the article "37 Snack Ideas for Weight Loss (And You Won’t Be Bored)”…..which really gives small meal ideas for at home and on the road. On the other hand, do you have time to wait for a restaurant to prepare your food? You may need to order ahead and quickly pick it up at the door.

Problem:
There aren't any healthy options or restaurants near my hotel or workplace
Solution:
Cook your meals
Implication:
I think we've taken many conveniences in society for granted, including the access to meals. Although people say "I don't cook," it truly translates to "I refuse to cook." You don't need to be a chef to create quick and simple meals daily. In fact, I create 3 meals each morning within 13 minutes. It is possible....as long as you're willing to do the initial experimentation phase to determine what you like best (and it's quick to prepare). On the other hand, cooking (and grocery shopping) still requires time and could be tough during a tight schedule. You may need to creatively carve out little chunks of time from different areas (e.g., cutting a meeting short by 5 minutes, having groceries delivered to your room or apartment, etc.).

Problem:
I'm surrounded by unhealthy options at the hotel and workplace
Solution:
I will travel to the nearest grocery store and stockpile my refrigerator-equipped room with healthy lunch options
Implication:
Book hotel or an apartment with a fridge. If the hotel doesn't have a fridge, book an Airbnb. If you can't book an Airbnb, stockpile your room with non-perishables and fruits/vegetables that won't perish within a few days. On the other hand, time could be a huge factor, and you won't have the wiggle room to sneak away to a grocery store. You may need to go to a small convenience store nearby (Google "convenience store" or ask your hotel).

Problem:
I don't have access to a kitchen
Solution:
Expense an Airbnb apartment instead of a hotel room
Implication:
While a hotel room may give you the luxury and ease....actually I'm not sure what it gives you that's better than an Airbnb apartment. The Airbnb options have grown so much that you can secure a space 3x the size of a hotel with the same level of luxury of comfort. The check-in process is comparable, and you have the option to cook your meals. On the hand, the closest Airbnb option to your workplace could be an additional 10-30 minutes away...not ideal for a tight schedule.

Problem:
There aren’t healthy options off the highway on my road trip
Solution:
Identify small towns and cities on your route and type “(the town or city) restaurants” in Google Maps.
Implication:
To eliminate the roadside desperation, you’ll need to prepare ahead once again. Take 5 minutes to review your route on Google Maps and then type in “(the town or city) restaurants”. You might be surprised by the number of options that will pop up roadside or within a 5 minute drive of the highway. On the other hand, you are requiring an additional 3-30 minutes during this process….time you don’t have.

Problem:
The workplace only offers unhealthy options during my meetings
Solution:
Bring your own prepared meals for lunch or have a meal delivered during the same timeslot.
Implication:
Preparation is the key here. Anything you can prep or schedule in advance will give you the alternative that you're looking for. On the other hand, you may have not had the time to prepare the meal or schedule a food delivery in advance. Let's be honest, though, if you know what to order from a place you selected in advance it won't take more than 2 minutes to order delivery.

Problem:
My meetings run into each other, and I have no time to eat
Solution:
Be more assertive
Implication:
This is rarely a reasonable excuse. You definitely need to be more assertive. It is fair to expect that you need a 30-minute break at some point in the day. You need to make it a priority and remove some of the irrational time urgency you constantly place on your life. On the other hand, it is possible that meetings run late and any free time becomes obsolete. In these cases, though, you can easily have food delivered.

Problem:
I don’t want to be judged by my colleagues while special ordering
Solution:
Be assertive and order what you want….but find ways to still participate in the experience.
Implication:
There is an underlying and, often, overt theme here: Be assertive. While you need your job, your job needs you. It should be fair to carve time for healthy eating in an already demanding 13-hour workday (which you can argue is a generous offering to your company….no matter what they pay you). Putting aside the time challenge, though, many people still feel awkward ordering what they want when eating with colleagues. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what your colleagues think. Nevertheless, you understand that they just want you to share the experience with them….especially if you’re the one who invited them to dinner. Then, still indulge in the experience with them! Under your control though. Order 1 drink (instead of 3) and discuss its unique taste profile. Order a plant-based dish (instead of the cheeseburger) and discuss your favorite restaurants and dishes. Essentially, contribute to the conversation of the experience but control what you eat. If anything, order 1-2 appetizers for the table and steal a small bite of each to exhibit your tasting participation. On the other hand, this strategy requires to be more assertive and confident (both of which take time to foster).

Photo Credit:
beyondwords .life–Are there more healthy option on the road than you realize?

Article Credit:

Author: Michael Moody Fitness
The "No Messing Around" Guide to Eating Healthy on the Road as a Professional
Learn how to lose weight from a personal trainer in Chicago.