It’s hard to stick to a healthy diet routine when you have no idea what will be available tomorrow. That’s the challenge for many executives who travel frequently. You can plan to some extent by shifting your mindset, forgetting what you think you know about healthy eating and keeping a few essentials on hand. Don’t worry; I’m not going to suggest that you snack on a certain number of nuts. That advice is overused. Plus, who can stick to just a handful?
Eat clean at home
When you eat junk food, you crave junk food. On the contrary, when you fill up on fresh, minimally processed food, you want to eat more of it. Eating healthfully when you’re not on the road will make clean eating easier when traveling. In time, you may find you’re scouring the hotel breakfast bar for hard-to-find veggies because you just can’t get enough.
Keep a water bottle at hand
Invest in a high-quality water bottle that doesn’t leak. When you’re traveling by air, you can fill it after you’ve gone through security. You won’t have to worry about crushing it in your briefcase, and you’ll stay hydrated.
Pack protein powder
When you’re hungry and busy, it’s hard to avoid a supposed quick energy snack like a candy bar. But a simple protein power shake will keep you fuller, longer. Buy a water bottle with a shaker insert so you can whip up a shake anywhere you go. Protein powder also can be added to oatmeal for a breakfast that will keep you satisfied throughout the morning.
Say yes to salads
Diet experts often say salads are surprisingly high in fat and calories. However, greens can be the healthiest option at many restaurants, especially when everything comes with fries on the side. You won’t have to fight your willpower to substitute vegetables for fries when a side dish is not even an option. Keep cheese, candied nuts and dried fruit on the salad to a minimum, and ensure a low-fat salad dressing is served on the side.
Probiotics are the friendly bacteria that keep your gut in check. Taking them regularly can help you absorb nutrients more efficiently, helping your body use clean energy for fuel and preventing you from getting sugar cravings. Taking probiotics also can help your body fight viruses you may encounter when shaking hands all day.
It’s hip to be square
Although this goes against much of the trending diet advice, eating “three squares” a day will help you reach your healthy eating goal. You may have heard that eating several small meals throughout the day can keep your metabolism churning. However, recent research finds this not to be true and the traditional three meals a day may be healthier.
First, most people underestimate how many calories are in their smaller meals, thus adding up too many extra calories at the end of the day. Second, if you’re not used to feeling normal hunger cues that come between meals, you’re more likely to get “hangry” and grab whatever’s available in the meeting room every couple of hours. Finally, it’s easier to schedule three meals than pack snacks for six or seven.
Don’t overdo it
Don’t take the last piece of advice as an excuse to overeat at mealtimes. Fill up on vegetables and lean protein at mealtime, and eat until you’re satisfied. Don’t stuff yourself until you’re bursting at the seams.
Allow yourself to experience hunger
Feeling hungry isn’t a bad thing; it will benefit your weight goals. Knowing when your body is truly hungry signals that it’s time to get your digestive juices flowing again, allowing you to process food better and avoid indigestion. People often associate hunger pangs with fatigue or exhaustion simply because they aren’t used to the sensation. Learning to realize when your body needs to be refueled and when it doesn’t is key to eating well.
Know what’s healthy
If you do have to grab a meal on the go, understand your options for healthy snacks. Bananas tend to fill you up more than other fruits. Hummus and carrots are great options. Avocado is a self-contained snack that tastes delicious on its own. You can also fill the center of the avocado with tuna for added protein. Pre-cooked hard-boiled eggs are often available in grocery stores and refrigerated displays.
Even one drink can make you lose all inhibition and attack the dessert bar. Sticking with non-alcoholic drinks will pay off in the long run.
Java without all the extras
Those countless meetings over coffee can lead to consuming too much sugar each day. Stay away from the fancy coffee-shop fare, which can contain more calories than a full meal. Gradually start cutting back the sugar you add to your coffee. And consider adding tea to the rotation.
As a road warrior, you’re constantly on the go. That doesn’t mean you have free reign to consume unhealthy foods just because they are convenient. Reworking your habits to healthy eating will help you to run your next journey full speed ahead.
YPO member Jesse Stein is Founder and CEO of Miami, Florida, USA-based DietSpotlight.com. He has founded, operated and sold multiple e-commerce-related ventures.