Confucius once said, "Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure." Even though that was said thousands of years ago, that rule still applies today. When it comes to eating healthy on the go, it's all about preparation. Sure, you can stick to your healthy eating when you have the time to prepare your own meals, but what happens when you have to leave your Paleo cocoon and enter the real world? All of a sudden, you're picking food based on convenience rather than on nutrients and after a while (read: a few days), it can and will catch up to you. So whether you're traveling for fun or for work, it is important to prepare yourself for success.
It seems like the past few weeks, I've done nothing but travel. Some travel for pleasure, some travel for work -- but no matter what, I always try to put myself in the healthiest environment possible. Why? Because I know that when I'm faced with the options of cookies or ice cream (which I try not to keep in my house), I will most likely buckle. I know that if these things are around me, they create temptation. If you are trying to stay focused on an eating plan, then you need to create a healthy surrounding. If I start to get a little hangry, aka, hungry + angry, and I don't have anything to quench that hanger, I'm going to reach for the nearest appealing food. If I start to get a little hangry and I have a delicious protein bar or raw almonds in my bag, I can quickly tell the hanger gremlin to take the next flight.
As it is every day, it is important to recognize what your energy output is during any specific day to tailor your nutritional needs. If you have completed two WODs in a day, you're going to need more carbohydrates and nutrients. Before all of you Paleo lovers stab the screen at the sight of the general word, "carbohydrate," I mean good nutritious carbohydrates that replenish glycogen stores such as fruit, sweet potatoes, squash and other vegetables. Paleo man did not always have access to these foods, but Paleo man was not completing 24 rounds of Cindy and then trying to clean and jerk the next day. That being said, if you're not going to expend much energy during the day because you'll be on a cross-country plane ride, you won't need nearly as many carbohydrates (bummer, right?). Figure out what your activity level is for the day and tailor your nutritional needs around it.
Here are my six tips to eating healthy on the go:
1. Bring fresh food with you. If you're going on a short trip, prepare your food beforehand. Whenever I'm going on an airplane, I prepare things such as salads, chicken, sweet potatoes and vegetables. Another great option for food on the go is nuts: almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews -- pick your favorite and snack away. These foods are packed with healthy fats and are very satiating. Just remember to stick to only a handful! Note: TSA does not count bags of food towards your baggage allowance: score!
2. Bring a water bottle with you. While TSA does not count your food bags, they are strict about bringing water through security. Instead of racking up more than $10 roundtrip on water alone, bring an empty bottle with you to fill up at the airport. Once you are through security, fill up the bottle in one of the many water fountains found around the airport. This will help you stay hydrated while traveling and save money!
3. Bring packaged food with you. Packaged food? Isn't that the devil? Life is all about adapting with the circumstances that you are given. I always advocate whole foods, but if you're on the run and cannot access a healthy meal, meal replacements such as protein bars and protein shakes are a good option. Just make sure to read the labels and stick to supplements that do not have high fructose corn syrup, too much saturated fat and sneaky sugars. Just because it says "protein" or "health" on the bar/shake, does NOT make it healthy. When I'm traveling, I prefer Quest Bars. They're tasty, they're filling and they're easy to take wherever you go. I also travel with Steve's Paleo foods, which are pre-packaged Paleo-friendly snacks that are nutritious and delicious.
4. Don't skip meals. When you're traveling or bouncing around from meeting to meeting, it's easy to skip a meal. This leaves your body starved for food and can easily cause you to binge at a later time. If you eat every two to three hours, you are less likely to make poor food choices. Not only that, but eating every two to three hours keeps your metabolism revving high.
5. Do the best you can. If you're at an airport and you have no options except for Burgers R' Us and McOverproccessed meat, weigh your options. Many restaurants have nutritional facts on their products or online. Most don't advertise them, but if you ask, the restaurant will provide them. Also, use your best judgment when choosing these foods. While airport food may be over processed, you can most likely find something that is nutritionally sound. For instance, if all the restaurant stocks are burgers, ask for your burger to be wrapped in lettuce. If you're getting a salad, ask that they hold the croutons and dressing. Stick to whole foods that are nutrient dense as often as you can and eliminate the processed grains, dressings and sugars -- they are all unnecessary calories. It might seem like a pain to pay $10 for a salad at an airport when burgers are only $5, but it will make you feel and look like a million dollars later.
6. Stick to the 80/20 rule. Now you don't have to be a saint 100 percent of the time to see results, just 80 percent of the time. The 80/20 rule states that you will get 99 percent of the benefits of the Paleo Diet if you adhere to it 80 percent of the time. Don't tell yourself you can never have your favorite food again because that is only setting yourself up for failure. Go ahead and treat yourself to your favorite item -- pizza, ice cream, cookies -- just make sure it is 20 percent or less of your diet. This rule allows you to eat healthy, see and feel the benefits, but also allows wiggle room when life gets in the way... or a chocolate cookie once in a while.
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