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Eating On the Go: Healthy Choices While You Travel

If you have a business trip tomorrow morning, you've probably already booked your flight and hotel room, arranged for transportation to the airport, set up meetings, planned your presentations, packed your clothes, and maybe even arranged for someone to feed your pet lama while you're away (lamas eat more than you think).

But what if instead you just woke up and left the house. No ticket, no reservation, you don't even know where the airport is or where you're going. I think you'll find this not to be the best method of getting that promotion you've been looking for. You may even find yourself working at Payless Shoes the following week (Not that there's anything wrong with working at Payless?. Payless sells fine shoes). My point is, without planning, your trip would be a disaster. Well, the same goes for eating on the road. If you fly by the seat of your pants, you'll end up not fitting into your pants.

So, let's put together a plan of attack. A roadmap, if you will. Eating well can take some effort but the results are well worth it. And once you get the hang of it, it will seem second nature.

First of all, accept the fact that you may not eat as well on the road as you do at home. There are just too many variables. Therefore, if I have a trip coming up, I do my best to eat correctly while I'm at home. I save all my splurges and irresponsible eating for while I'm traveling.

Hectic & Busy Travel - The biggest trap that people fall into while traveling is definitely forgetting to eat. You get busy, you're running behind, or you're stuck in a meeting for 8 hours. Maybe you're trying to make a deadline so the company cancels lunch and orders pizzas. Here is where planning and portable snacks can really save you. Maybe you carry a briefcase, purse, laptop bag, or maybe you still wear a fanny pack, determined to try and make that cool again. Whatever the case may be, throw some snacks inside. Almonds, nuts, fruit, protein bar, a baggy of carrots, be creative. Just keep in mind that these are snacks to get you through a busy spot. Try not to eat a bag of nuts and 3 protein bars for dinner. Try to avoid the normal crackers and muffins. Many baked goods are loaded with trans fats that may not even be listed on the label. If you find yourself in a spot where the office pizza is the only food available, try to eat just one slice instead of 6. Just enough to get by until you can make more healthy choices

Speaking of Starving - If you go 4 to 5 waking hours without eating something, your metabolism starts to slow down and your body may even go into "starvation mode". In short, in "starvation mode", your body may store extra fat and cannibalize your muscle tissue to use for energy. Your body actually starts to fear that it may not get nutrition again for some time. It doesn't know that you're just stuck in traffic and can't get home for dinner. A protein bar is the perfect failsafe in this situation. Here's my policy on protein bars: Never eat a protein bar if you can eat real food, but never starve yourself if you can eat a protein bar. Just choose your bar wisely. Many bars are just candy in disguise. Read the labels and look for bars that are lower in fat, saturated fat, and sugar.

Eating in Restaurants - This is where some people really pack it on. Eating out, entertaining clients or just a simple business lunch can lead to a caloric nightmare. Here are some tips:

? Order double vegetables with your entrée - Skip the starchy potatoes or rice. They're higher in calories and the complex carbs can store as fat if you don't burn them before you go to bed.

?Avoid pasta dishes - They're always huge and loaded with calories and complex carbs.

? Ask for no butter/no oil - In restaurants, you never really know what they're putting in the food. But you can almost guarantee a pile of it is butter or oil. Don't worry about the special request. Unless you're doing business in a very small town, you're probably the 4th person that has made that request today. If you're still shy or embarrassed, you can always just say that you're allergic. If people fear that your hands may swell up to the size of a tennis racquet, they won't give you a hard time.

? Don't clean your plate - What are you, 9? I promise your boss won't make you sit at the table until you finish your peas. Restaurant servings today are made for 2-3 people. Eat half and take the rest back to your hotel or tell the waiter it was disgusting and you want your money back.

? Eat grilled chicken breast or fish - Almost always the best choice in a restaurant. However, try to choose the dish with a wine or tomato sauce. Avoid the cream based sauces.

? Order the dressing on the side - Most restaurant salad dressings are horrific and they add way too much to your salad. Order it on the side and use a small amount or just use oil and vinegar if you like it.

? Desserts - If you know you're going to splurge on a dessert, plan ahead of time and eat a lighter dinner. And eat a fantastic dessert. If you're traveling, don't waste your splurge on a Snickers bar or a bag of Cheetoes. Eat something that you'll really enjoy.

? Fast Food - Many fast food joints are starting to offer healthy options. Some even post their nutritional contents on a poster on the wall. You can almost always get some type of grilled chicken breast sandwich and many places are even offering wheat buns now. Just avoid the mayo, special sauces, cheese and fried foods. They rarely carry low-fat substitutes.

? Alcohol - Here we go. A huge pile of empty calories with no nutritional value. But no one is saying you have to be a nun (Not that there's anything wrong with nuns?. Especially if they work at Payless Shoes). Just watch what you drink. Red wine can be the best choice. It's lower in calories and even has some qualities that are good for you. Try to avoid the sugary drinks or fruit juicy drinks. The calories in a margarita can triple that of a glass of read wine. If you have to drink beer, drink light beer, if you have to drink vodka tonic, try a vodka soda. Just try to make better choices and drink them in moderation. 2 is almost always better that 6.

Good luck and have a great trip....... pick me up a T-shirt.

You may reprint or publish this article freely as long as you include a visible, active link to and the author bio.

Tony Hale is a certified personal trainer with 12 years of experience servicing clients in the entertainment industry throughout the Hollywood area. He is also the editor in chief for

Train with Tony online at



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