Eating well during business travel

Eating well on a business trip is difficult. Not only do you have typical office temptations like donuts, you have to eat out for most of your meals. grocery cartWhen you are working a ton of hours away from home it’s easy to fall into the trap of eating whatever is handy. And believe it or not, Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner.  It can be tempting to forgo healthy eating until the new year, but it doesn’t have to be that way.  Here are 5 ways to eat well on the road.

Plan out your meals.  Before your business trip plan out each of your meals.  Find out places to go by calling your hotel, apps like Yelp or Urban Spoon, and your rewards card dining portal.  Once you’ve picked your place, go to their website and choose what you’ll order. If I’ve got it in my head that I’m having seared salmon with warm spinach salad then it’s much easier to say no to the chicken fried steak. Another tip: it’s hard to do while traveling for work, but try to avoid eating late. The earlier you eat dinner the better chance you have of burning off some of those calories before you go to bed.

Try something different.  Healthy eating doesn’t have to be boring! Try to eat something different when you’re on the road.  If you have chicken a lot of nights when you’re home try to avoid that during your trip.  Before your trip look up what the local food favorites are and choose something healthy from that list that’s a change from normal.

Drink lots of water.  I’m not a doctor, but I can tell you that when I stay hydrated and keep my stomach full of water I usually eat less. Not to mention it’s good for you!

Find out nutrition info.  Use an app such as the Food Diary and Calorie Tracker app to determine and track nutritional information.  I love this app and use it on the road and at home—it has a huge database of foods to pull from, from both grocery stores and restaurants.  You can also ask your waiter for nutritional information, or go to the restaurant’s website to look for this information.

Bring a snack.  I say this all the time but it works. For times when you are tempted to grab a dessert or eat something unplanned go for those healthy snacks.  KIND Bars are pretty darn tasty and have saved me on the calorie count more than once. Here’s a longer list of security-friendly snacks I try to bring when I feel like putting more effort into it.

Go to the grocery store. It doesn’t always make sense, but for some trips a quick visit to a nearby grocery store will give you a whole host of healthy options. For longer trips I love stopping by Whole Foods to pick up yogurt, cheese, and snacking veggies (pictured). Unfortunately not all companies will approve this, so know your office.

Bonus tip: if it’s a log trip plan one cheat meal to look forward to at the end of your trip as a reward for good behavior.

So this is my strategy.  It doesn’t always go as planned when I travel, but by following these tips you give yourself the best chance of eating healthy on the road.

Readers, what tips do you have for eating healthy on a business trip?

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  1. That’s one nice thing about a per diem vs expensing meals directly – my company sets the $ for per diem reimbursement, so it doesn’t matter if I go to the grocery store or eat at a fancy restaurant, it’s my choice.

  2. Ahhhh I want someone to please write an entire blog on this topic. I need the help and motivation! I would totally write one if I could come up with a catchy name. Got any suggestions?

    Here are some of the tips I’ve found that are helpful specific to eating well:

    1) At dinner, choose one: bread, booze, or dessert. (Guess which one I normally pick? Ha!)

    2) If you’re traveling in a group, offer to be the person who drives the rental car. You’ll have 1 drink max, and you get the loyalty points to boot.

    3) For buffet lines (most of the lunches I get), if something doesn’t look like it’s going to be the most amazing version of whatever it is, don’t put it on your plate. Cookies at the end of the line can be tempting, but if you tell yourself it’s going to be at or below average, it’s easier to say “no” to the extra calories.

    I have a lot more tips & ideas but I’ll save them for my imaginary blog. Ha!

  3. I try to stay at hotels that offer free breakfast. There is usually an oatmeal option, and I’m far less likely to eat too much at a free breakfast than if I sit down and order breakfast. Also, you can usually grab an orange, a banana or even a yogurt for a healthy snack later in the day.

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