Is it possible to eat healthy while you are traveling?  There is always a new restaurant to try, tasty appetizers to share, fun conversations followed by a drink or two (or three!).   It’s almost impossible to resist taking an extra bite of that tasty meal, event though your stomach is about to explode.  And when the waiter brings out the dessert tray, you think, #yolo. Well, after a few months of trial and error, the answer is yes, you can eat healthy while you travel, but it will require you to make a few changes and rethink what a typical “meal” should look like.

I will confess, there was a time when I first started traveling where I was eating breakfast tacos for breakfast, lunch and dinner (I know, absolutely tragic). It turns out that finding “the green” stuff has become even more challenging. There’s not a lot of really great selections at airports, and even less selections at gas stations. After about 2 months of traveling, I noticed that I gained a little bit of weight around my stomach.  Part of the reason was because my exercise level also dropped down significantly during this time.  Before when I worked from home, I was working out 4 to 5 days a week.  In my typical travel day now, I am lucky to even walk a mile or two because of my new lifestyle.  What’s even more scary is that I’m probably sitting 95% of the time in my day.  According to an article from the Mayo Clinic, “Too much sitting also seems to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.”  Yikes.

Since 80% of physical health starts with the types of foods consumed, I started tweeking my eating habits.  I had to how figure out how to find healthy meals without having to cook or meal plan.  Since I’m eating about 90% of my meals each week while travelling, looking for healthy options was an active challenge.  I knew I was missing many nutrients which I use to get when I cooked, such as Omega-3’s, which I use to get from consuming seafoods like salmon and mackerel.  While I am not a huge fan of relying on supplemental vitamins, sometimes you have to do what you have to do to, especially when your only options are fried chicken or gas station pizza.  Clearly, the best form of nutrition is through the whole food itself, but if you don’t have time or do not have the selection of food readily available, I recommend using supplements.

I started adding an omega 3 supplement, algae (which you can also get from seaweed), collagen (which has a plethora of benefits including cardiovascular health AND healthier nails and hair) and royal jelly (boosting immune system and a helps with ton of other chronic ailments). If you look at my travel bag, you would laugh. I look like a pill lady.  I carry this zip lock bag of pills.  I am waiting from the day TSA pulls me aside to ask me about my “drug problem”.

Looking at my old eating habits, I used to eat only 15 to 20% of my total calories as carbohydrates.  My new diet while travelling consisted of breakfast tacos and sandwiches, closer to 40% carbohydrates.  And most of the carbs were refined carbs and bread.  Obviously the tacos had to go.  Instead of a breakfast taco or sandwich in the morning, I now have a salad for breakfast.  Now, it may seem weird eating a salad first thing in the morning, especially when it is 5:30-6 o’clock in the morning and everyone else is having a breakfast taco at the airport.  However, when you look at the components of a Cobb salad you’ll notice it has is the same types of foods you would normally get from breakfast:  Hard boiled eggs, bacon, avocado (healthy fats essential to our overall well-being), and healthy green vegetables. This is a wonderful low-carbohydrate breakfast option.  On days where I need a little extra substance, I will have a banana or apple as well.  The morning cup of coffee, which is absolutely critical to my well-being, is part of my morning meal.

For lunch, I started off by swapping the wrap or sandwich for foods with more fiber and healthy fats.  On days where I can find  salmon or some kind of seafood with a lot of omega 3’s, I’ll skip the omega 3 supplements.  If I’m really craving carbs, I’ll have a very small serving of potatoes, sweet potatoes, or black beans usually two or three tablespoons.  If they have avocados, it is definitely on my plate.  The rest of the plate consists of steamed vegetables or a salad.

I stopped snacking because I really didn’t need the extra calories, since my activity levels have decreased substantially.  If I’m really craving something sweet, I’ll dig in to my bag and grab an  an organic apple, or an orange, which travels quite well.   As much as I like bananas, I quickly realized they do not travel well (hello banana scented iPad case!)

Dinner is probably one of the easiest meals for me. Almost every place will have a seafood or chicken option.  The easiest thing to do is to substitute out any carbohydrates with a double serving of steamed vegetables.  Get dressing on the side with salads and have the sauce from any entree on the side as well.  This gives you the flexibility to add as much or as little as you want.  I often find restaurants tend to drown the salad in dressing.  A hardy salad with steak or salmon on top is a favorite of mine.  Avoid temptation by having the bread bowl removed from the table.  A squeeze of lime or lemon gives an extra flavor boost as well as add in some antioxidants and vitamin C.  I try to eat dinner earlier, around 5:30-6:30 if possible, because if you eat too late, it’s harder for you to digest.

Instead of carbs, I now add in more healthy fats, such as coconut oil, avocado, and even bacon.  The healthy fats keep me energized.  Since I’ve been on this new regiment, I have lost inches off my waist line with no exercise and very limited activity.  People have noticed that I am visibly slimmer and it has given me a lot of energy.

Funny thing is now, the other day, I had a cake ball in my moment of weakness and immediately I could feel the sugar crash.  I also felt sick to my stomach after about 10 minutes because my body is not used to all of this heavy, refined, processed foods anymore.  Bad foods definitely affects how you feel.  Despite having only 2-4 hours of sleep on a week day,  I still have lots of energy and am in good shape.  Obviously, sleep is important and it is something I’m going to start incorporating more it into my day to day routine, but I wanted to share this just to give you an idea of what a healthy day while traveling can look like. If you have any questions or if you are looking to know how you can get some ideas for healthy meals on the road that you can easily purchased, feel free to drop me a line and a comment.

Thanks, and make it a healthy day.

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