Keeping it healthy when you travel
I’m sitting in a Sports Bar at JFK, waiting for a connecting flight to Orlando.
Last time I was here we were on our way to Disney; this time I’m headed to the Institute for Functional Medicine conference … so, polar opposite experiences really!
As much as I loved Disney, I’m a little giddy about three days of presentations and research updates too. There’s a big feature on integrative oncology which ties directly into the work we at Waterfront Wellness do with PALS, as well as a whole host of other fascinating things – the future of wearable tech, the oral microbiome, practical applications for reversing cognitive decline, therapeutic uses of phytocannabinoids, genomics in the clinical environment … the list goes on!
And yet currently, I’m surrounded by junk-food America in its purest form. At the tables around me there are giant mugs of beer, baskets of overflowing chicken wings and tall glasses of soda. We’re down the hallway from Starbucks with all its frappacino madness, close to a doughnut shop and all the snacks are king-size. There’s an occasional pot of hummus and carrots tucked in among the grab-bags of Lay’s and maybe a grape or two. But really, healthy choices are pretty awful when you’re on the move.
As you would expect, I have a bag full of healthy snacks. It’s not that I never have any bad stuff (I did have a wine at 11am!!) but I feel pretty horrible when I eat badly. So, when I’m heading into four days of work and fun, I’m motivated to eat well. If you’re the same but need some help putting it into action, see below for some travel tips!
Top six tips for keeping it healthy when you travel:
1, Eat before you fly
Try not to arrive at the airport hungry. Have a proper meal before you go that’s packed full of savoury protein and veg. This is especially important if you are travelling mid-morning. A good breakfast will set you up for steady glucose levels through the day. This is helpful for preventing the crashes that cause the cravings in the first place. So, forget the Froot Loops and have something like scrambled eggs on toast, or a veggie omelette instead.
2, Pack your own snacks
Here are my favourites: GoMacro bars (but the high protein options only) or Aloha bars (Miles only) if you need a lower-carb option. You can also take nuts/seeds (I like the Eden Organic snack packs) but try and avoid peanuts for the sake of allergic passengers. Grass-fed beef jerky/biltong is also a great option if you are a meat-eater, otherwise pack some Saffron Road crunchy chick peas (better than they sound – there are some really great flavours!)
3, Buy water for the flight
Once you get through security, make sure you buy a big bottle of water for the flight, or fill your own at a water station. Staying hydrated will make you feel so much better on a plane and all too often we confuse thirst with hunger. If you feel snackish, but you really shouldn’t be, have a big drink of water and see if that nips things in the bud. If you prefer to add flavour to your water, try the Nuun effervescent electrolyte tablets rather than buying something artificially flavoured/coloured.
4, Pick the best airplane snacks
If you’re offered snacks on the plane and it’s not in your DNA to say no thank you, then pick the better option! On JetBlue today we were offered a chewy granola bar, pretzels, cheese crackers or plantain chips. The plantain chips are pretty OK, just have them with a few nuts for protein! If you’re on a longer flight and are wary of airplane food, then try packing wholegrain crackers and an avocado or a pot of guacamole for something easy and filling. If I’m flying from Heathrow to Bermuda, I usually raid Pret A Manger which has delicious, fresh, healthy options.
5, Seize the day but keep your long-term goals in mind
Listen, if you’re on holiday, it’s important to relax and genuinely enjoy yourself. If that means some unhealthy treats, then do it. But, do keep your long-term goals in mind. If you overdo it and come home full of remorse, then that isn’t any fun. Take the treats slowly … properly taste them. Are they genuinely delicious? If so, enjoy a modest amount. If not, don’t do it for the sake of it or just because you got caught up in the moment.
6, Practice damage limitation (get the serving sizes right)
I find the easiest way to enjoy the good stuff without going overboard is just to get the portion sizes right. At meal time, generally try and have ¼ plate protein, ¼ plate carbs and ½ plate green veg or other non-starchy vegetables. If you’re having a burger for example, this means having a bun or the fries, but not both! If you are having dessert, maybe skip the carbs with your main!