Is it possible to eat whole natural foods while stuck at an airport or in a hotel? It might not be convenient, but it’s possible. Here’s some examples of each meal and what would be considered a good, better, and best substitutions when you’re stuck without an oven or a fridge. These are just some examples, I’m sure many of you have your own go-to snacks/meals that you eat when traveling. Speak up in the comment section or let me know on Facebook or Twitter.
Of course, it’s always best to be prepared so we’re assuming in these examples that the traveler had some notice prior to heading out, hence the BEST examples will be ones that could be packed on planes or in a vehicle.
Good: Protein bar with low amount of fat, 20grams of protein and will most likely have 25g of carbs. Don’t bother with the small snack size bars (ahem, ones that say SKINNY on them); save those for actual snacks. If this is your only meal for breakfast, then this is better than nothing but it can’t be so small that you’re hungry again in an hour.
Better: Hard-boiled Eggs (yes they have these at most airports after you pass thru security) with crackers and a piece of fruit. Another better option would be an egg white wrap from the airport/fast food places with some feta cheese and spinach. Again, looking for a protein with fat and a carb. But make sure it fills you up!
Best: Eat before you head out to the airport or start traveling with a homemade breakfast. If it HAS to be quick, I would recommend a smoothie that you make at home with either protein powder or greek yogurt as the protein source, and then add in a ton of greens and veggies like carrots and cucumbers, add some fruit for a little sweetness and some nut butter for a fat and you’re good to go. If you are able, you can pack up your protein powder, buy some low fat milk at the airport or gas station and use your shaker bottle to have a decent breakfast with a piece of fruit and some crackers. Sometimes the store-bought smoothies are loaded with so much sugar that it’s best you just make your own.
Good: Salad or wrap from a fast food joint. Don’t add a ton of extras like mayo or oils to it. The protein should be grilled, not fried. Opt out of the dessert or sweet treat that usually sit at the cash register tempting you to BUY ME! It’ll just cause you to crash later from all those ridiculous amounts of sugar. Beverage is going to be as close to non-caloric as you can get. Don’t be tempted to get an energy drink, especially when you’re going to be SITTING in a car, or on a plane, or in a cab…etc.
Better: Greek yogurt cup or beef jerky (desperate times call for desperate measures!), string cheese, a snack bar or mini protein shake that has 10-15g of protein and a piece of fruit or dried fruit like raisins or craisins. You will notice that all of these are snacks just put together to make one big meal. The point here is that you won’t be full from just ONE of these snacks so if it’s going to be 4-5 hours before your next meal, you can fill up on these. Or mix and match if you only desire or have access to a few.
Best: Salad or wrap from an actual restaurant is best here if you have no way of bringing your own. Same rules apply from the Good example. If you have access to a grocery store (I know, I know) you could go to their salad bar which has the freshest options, usually. As a snack you can have some trail mix. If it’s store bought, make sure it contains no chocolate covered anything, it has a little bit of dried fruit and a decent amount of unsalted nuts. The portions that are sold at convenience stores and rest stops are usually way too big for just one person. It’s best (and cheaper!) to make your own with small baggies that you can portion out yourself. And oh look, they travel easily too!
This is usually where I hear clients struggle the most. They say their boss or their co-workers/clients take them out for a “working dinner” and since they aren’t the ones paying, all bets are off on what they will eat. And maybe it’s been one long day at the office and you’re starving because you didn’t even have a chance to eat good meals for breakfast and lunch. This is when you have to really be careful if you want to stick with a plan. You HAVE to look for balance.
Good: One or two servings of the table appetizer which is usually garlic bread or chips/salsa, or some other option. Split appetizer between yourself and at least one other person, entree of your choice with veggies, and one alcoholic beverage. Dessert.
Better: Grilled appetizer prepared for one person, entree with double veggies and no bread or pasta, and one alcoholic beverage. Fruit based dessert or chocolate/sugar dessert split with one other person.
Best: No appetizer, grilled/poached/baked entree with double veggies, no alcoholic beverage and a dessert of your choice split between 2 other people. Plenty of water or maybe a diet pop/soda.
Now, this is assuming this dinner is at an actual restaurant where the portions are typically Americanized and doubled, especially when it comes to dessert. As for the beverages, depending on the occasion, what your job is, what kind of person you are, I’m sure the alcoholic beverage option will be different for everyone. But I know how hard it is to get looks or questions from people such as “Why are you ordering that?” or “Why aren’t you drinking with us?” or “You should splurge just this once!”
Give those people a polite, but firm
“Mind your own damn business” “Thanks but no thanks” and forget it. I will never ever understand why eating “kinda healthy” is STILL a stigma in this country…but that’s another blog post for another day.
I hope some of these options give you at least a few ideas of what you could eat when you travel. Circumstances won’t always allow the freedom to eat the healthiest options but aim for the GOOD, attempt to get BETTER but try for your BEST!