If you’ve got your head in the game and are eating clean and hitting your workouts with clockwork frequency, traveling for business can burst your bubble. Hours-long conference proceedings, happy hours, hors d’oeuvres trays, and fancy meals out are just some of the temptations that can take you from feeling in control of your diet to feeling like a big bloated mess. Here’s my advice to keep you on track during your time out of the office.
9 Tips for Staying Healthy on a Business Trip
- Get moving. You’re usually more sedentary on business trips. Plane rides and days-long meetings won’t raise your heart rate, so make sure you fit in other ways to move your body. Small actions like taking the stairs at your hotel, walking outside for a few minutes between conference proceedings, or forgoing the moving walkway at the airport will add some activity to your daily docket. And, don’t forget to use the hotel gym if you have time!
- Tip your bartender. Sometimes work travel can feel like going back in time to the good old college days. Everyone finds their inner lush when drinks are free, the bar is in their hotel, and there’s no returning home after a long day at the office. Here’s my novel advice for you: Rather than drink like a fish, find your bartender on the way to the restroom, slip him or her a $20, and ask him or her to bring you a club soda each and every time you order a “vodka” tonic. While everyone else is guzzling their calories, you’ll be keeping up your clean eating and waking up a lot more refreshed than your colleagues.
- Develop an allergy. To avoid being pestered at every meal about your grilled chicken and side salad, announce that you have an allergy to wheat, gluten, alcohol, sugar, etc. That way you don’t have to make different excuses each time you’re presented with those greasy, sugary, and calorie-laden foods found in meetings, conferences, or restaurants. No, you don’t want that cheesy bread (you’re lactose intolerant and gluten-free, remember?!).
- Stick to water. Keep up your H2O intake throughout the day. Enjoy that large metal pitcher filled with ice-cold water while your colleagues guzzle their sugary soda. This will avoid unwanted calorie consumption and keep you hydrated. Plus, if the meeting is a little on the long side, you can step out for a few bathroom breaks!
- Fill yourself up. To avoid bingeing on the sugary pastries displayed by the coffee station at your meeting, eat breakfast before you start your workday. Power up with some protein-rich breakfast options in your room or at the hotel restaurant so your stomach isn’t growling at the 10:15 break.
- Think about your plate. Though you may not have control over what’s served or where you eat during your business trip, focus on controlling what you put in your mouth. Identify the protein-rich and fibrous vegetable options in the lunch buffet line. Even if it isn’t completely “clean,” this approach will keep you on the road to mindful eating even during this disruptive time away from home. And, if you get a giant sandwich, deconstruct it and eat the filling. However, when all else fails and you’re presented with NOTHING healthy, just eat and relax. The next meal can be your chance to get back on track.
- Google your options. Before you set out on your trip, research your location. This can include finding restaurants with healthy options and searching for nearby open spaces where you could fit in a run, some circuits, or a quick meditative yoga session. If someone else is booking reservations, check out the restaurant menus and pre-plan your meals.
- Load up on snacks. Before you leave for your trip, pre-pack baggies of protein-rich nuts, dried fruit, low or no sugar jerky, and healthy “treats” that can help you avoid bingeing on high-calorie, high-fat options like potato chips and chocolate chip cookies. Lara bars, crispy roasted chickpeas, or protein powder (mix it with water) are great to have on hand if you need to fill up before you head out to a cocktail party full of heavy apps.
- Stay hydrated. Being on the road can make it difficult to stay hydrated. Airplanes and conference rooms can be dry, so make sure you have a water bottle handy and try to fit in eight glasses of water a day. That will help counteract your busy schedule and keep you from feeling weighted down and slow at the end of your day.
Once you’re back in town, make sure to resume the schedule you had before you went away. Don’t skip your workouts for a period while you “recover.” Just jump right back in! If you were unable to avoid all of the temptations of business travel, don’t beat yourself up. Keep your goals in mind and move past that blip in your routine.