This is an epic post; digest it in pieces when you have time. Pin now, refer later. If you take away three things let them be these:
- Pack more food than you anticipate needing. You don’t want to go too long without eating and end up starving; you and I both know that’s the danger zone. Always have two fresh snacks packed and three emergency snacks in your bag at all times. Chances are you’ll end up eating it all. As long as you pack healthful choices that work for you personally to feed your body and not trigger any overeating tendencies, that’s totally fine. You can always restock.
- Ditch the dogma and do what works for you day in and day out, and strive gently to get better over the weeks and months. Michael Pollan nailed it with his pared down philosophy: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
- If you find yourself in a bar or cocktail party, make sure you remember the simple but powerful tip I’m about to share below for making it a healthy night instead of initiating the swing a diet wrecking ball!
Hungry for lots more? Ok then, let’s go!
Dare To Prepare
I don’t care what you call it- your briefcase, purse, tote, backpack, European man-bag, diaper bag, fanny pack… if you want to succeed in getting in all the nutrition you need while still living your life and doing your job, you’d better fill that thing with the good stuff!
Whether you’re an ultra-busy entrepreneur, a student, parent-on-the-go, or a 9-5er, no matter what your day holds, I think we can all agree there are challenges every day when it comes to eating healthy!
When You’re Serious, There’s Nothing Stopping You
We can joke and make excuses and say we’d eat healthier if we had more time or more money or a personal chef, but really we wouldn’t if we don’t do it now. Many wealthy celebrities have tried it all- they can have any food, any program, any chef- but all the money in the world doesn’t buy you willpower, passion or energy. It’s about commitment, not circumstances.
I’ll be the first to admit eating healthy on the go isn’t always a breeze, but with a little planning and preparation, you can avoid a lot of the common pitfalls of travel and stay on the straight and narrow when it comes to your nutrition goals.
Snack Attack Defense
Here are some snacks to carry that will tide you over until you can get to a big, fresh salad, which is always the optimum choice. I’ve adapted this list to make it vegan from a post written by and for omnivorous healthy jet-setters. These snacks can be modified further to be raw vegan if you make the fruit leather, crackers, pitas, tortillas and granola in your dehydrator.
- Fresh fruit: apples, grapes, berries, melon balls, oranges, bananas, etc. Almond butter is awesome with apples or celery sticks.
- Fresh veggies: grape tomatoes (a fruit, I know, but I’m throwing it in the veggie baggie,) sliced bell peppers, snap peas, celery, baby carrots, cucumber slices. Pack hummus or salsa for dipping.
- Dried fruit– apricots, apples, prunes, mini boxes of raisins (just be careful to avoid ALL added ingredients i.e. sugar, sulfur dioxide)
- Energy bars & bites: Larabar, Raw Revolution, Organic Green Bars, Trio, Bumble Bar, simple honey-sesame bars, nori chips
- Raw almonds, peanuts, cashews, mixed nuts, etc. Keep servings to a small snack sized bag
- Organic fruit snacks and fruit leather (made with whole fruit or 100% juice)
- Instant oatmeal – Not the sugary packets, just plain organic oats. You can add fruit or toppings like granola or nuts from there. You’ll need to add hot water and remember to bring a spoon and disposable cup or container.
- Bottled juices & smoothies, spa water– freshly-pressed juice from a juice bar or make your own and take it in a non-metal, BPA free insulated thermos.
- Organic apple chips, raw cookies, kale chips, or granola bars
- Air popped popcorn– you can season ahead of time with a shake of nutritional yeast, Himalayan salt and spices
- Sprouted pita/wrap/sandwich-add lettuce, cucumber slices, onion, tomato, sprouts and hummus or mustard & Veganaise, Miso Mayo or Majestic garlic spread (check out the recipes on the Majestic site- we love this stuff!)
- Raw, unsalted nuts & seeds– almonds, cashews, walnuts, brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pistachios.
- DIY granola/trail mix– pick your faves from the organic bulk section of nuts, seeds and dried fruit- sometimes it’s the only way to avoid sugared dried fruit, preservatives, M&Ms- yes, sadly these are not health foods.
- Pumped up PB&J-sprouted grain or gluten free bread with almond butter and all fruit jam or homemade blended fruit.
- Raw vegan old-fashioned faves like mock chicken salad or tuna salad- I’ve seen a lot of variation on what to use for the “meat” in these- chickpeas, soaked cashews or sunflower seeds and I’ve used tempeh… it’s mainly all the other stuff that makes it work, so just do the rest however you used to eat these as a kid subbing veganaise.
- Herbal tea bags– You can get hot water almost anywhere and this will help keep you from buying coffees and getting too dehydrated, which happens all to easily when you’re traveling.
Airport & Other Convenience Options
Starbucks has fresh fruit now, as well as oatmeal, veggies & hummus etc. Most airports seem to have a “fresher” choice and though these places are the definition of price gouging, if you’re finding yourself stranded, just bite the bullet.
You’re worth it.
Don’t justify spending the dough for three magazines, a hardcover book, a neck pillow, the in-flight movie headphones and then stop when it comes to buying yourself the healthy food you need to nourish your body because it’s “overpriced.” Yeah, it is. So what. It’s time to make this a priority, in your life and in your budget.
If you benefit from affirmations, try:
- I let go of all reasons and excuses for not eating healthy meals.
- I accept healthy eating as a way of life.
- I love my body and take good care of it by eating correctly.
[Find these and more here.]
Instead of throwing away plastic containers that deli salads have come in, wash and save them for use later when you’ll be somewhere that it’s convenient to then recycle it rather than tote a dirty container home- like before your flight.
Marinated and massaged salads and heartier vegetable mixes like this curried carrot creation are a good option for packing salads you won’t be able to eat right away. They’re already dressed so you don’t have to worry about them getting soggy. Here’s a citrus salad recipe with a good illustration of the type of “disposable” container I’m talking about. Spiralized cucumber marinated in a scoop of fermented veggie goodness is a quick combo.
Choices for Dining Out
Once you reach your destination, you’ll certainly be invited out by colleagues, which can be treacherous if you get too hungry in transit and end up mindlessly ordering whatever looks good in the menu pictures!
If you can scope out the restaurant choices on yelp before you go, you can have a plan of action. Sounds like a lot of work, I know, but really it’s not- soon it will be second nature and it will actually become fun. Dig until you find the highly-rated fresh, or ethnic hole-in-the-wall choices and the indie organic soup & salad style restaurants.
I tend to avoid big sandwich chains and salad bar restaurants anymore because of the preservatives they use on even their “fresh food” not to mention all the unhealthy items that manage to jump onto your plate at a buffet.
Salads are, of course, the go-to choice, but beware of creamy dressings and common health-negating toppings like cheese, meat and croutons!
You might peruse the whole list of the salads’ ingredients and see what they obviously have on hand and combine ingredients from the different salads to basically request a custom salad with a vinaigrette, lemon wedge or fresh salsa or guacamole on the side instead of questionable dressings.
A light Mediterranean or Italian choice is usually a good one. Look for tabbouleh, veggie wraps and pitas, tomato or vegetable soup, and salads or steamed vegetables dressed with tahini or lemon vinaigrette. Avoid filling up on bread/breadsticks/pitas/chips. Ask for extra veggies with the hummus instead of pita.
Thai soups, vegetable broth-based and miso soups, edamame, veggie sushi/hand rolls, rice paper summer rolls aka summer rolls, fresh rolls are a good choice. If that’s the only thing I see that’s safe, I’ll have two orders of fresh rolls.
Be Skeptical, Be Strong
In this day and age, not many big companies are looking out for you. You have to take responsibility and look out for yourself because no one else can be responsible for your food knowledge. Though many restaurants are reluctant to give you the nutritional information, they are required to provide it upon request.
Ordering healthy takes some outside-the-box thinking and off-the-menu ordering. Just remember to always order gently, politely and with a smile. This approach has never failed me. Plus I don’t want to be one of those vegans who give vegans everywhere a bad name. I’m prepared, if ever challenged, to feign an allergy or say it is a medical need. My food is my medicine; I’m not about to launch into a lecture or give in and eat whatever- I just have a plan and I’m sticking to it.
“Shall We Order Dessert?”
Be ready with: “Oh no, I’m actually pretty full!” Train your mind to send this phrase and others like to automatically to your lips. Wait ten minutes, let the idea pass. You’ll be perfectly content in your slacks- not to mention much happier with the bill- if you forgo the wine and desserts.
Sticking to your diet in all situations means developing willpower to break addictions. Being fit, energetic, healthy and free from chemicals and compulsions- this is truly enjoying life.
Fruit for dessert seems like a good idea, but pretty much anything sugary, even fruit is a food-combining nightmare. Food combining gets pretty complex and I don’t subscribe to all the facets of the philosophy, but being careful about eating fruit after heavier foods that take longer to digest is the most important tenet in my opinion. Quick digesting sweets after or at the end of a meal can be a recipe for gasto-disaster. As much as it’s hard to break the dessert habit, your unbloated, settled stomach will thank you for having nothing but water or tea after dinner.
Pack Your Workout Clothes!
Hit the gym in your hotel, then maybe the pool or spa. You’ll feel so fresh and accomplished having broken a sweat rather than passing awkward hours flipping through 20 crappy channels alone in your room. This also gives you the opportunity to meet new friends on the treadmills and ask a new contact to join you for tea in the morning!
Never! When it comes to the drunken schmoozing parties, this easy tip is golden: have a glass of water with a lime wedge in your hand at all times.
Most bars or parties have plain water, Perrier, some sort of natural soda, kombucha, coconut water…
It saves you from the empty-handed “I’m not drinking because…” explanation since it looks like a cocktail of some sort. You’re the designated driver for a friend if anyone calls you out, but they probably won’t. If, however, you are spotted without a glass, mark my words, you will catch hell and a drink will immediately be forced upon you and frustration and/or awkwardness can ensue. If you tip the bartender a dollar ever-other water refill, I’ve found they are happy to oblige. I’ve also sneaked a bottle full of freshly pressed juice or chia-lime water into my purse, but that’s a little farther than you have to go, though it’s a nice possibility for refilling your own glass on the sly when you anticipate a long night.
A private party would be a perfect opportunity to contribute your own fresh spicy veg juice and share it as a Bloody Mary mix substitute.) Instead of being tired and hungover you’ll be hydrated and alkalized and the next day you’ll be the one with energy to spare.
This one switch alone will spare you food binges, toxins, compromised immunity, hangovers, headaches, bad behavior embarrassments, and mysteriously massive tabs!
Letting go of the need for alcohol is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Not only is it healthier, this is an opportunity to explore other ways to enjoy life as well as cope with it’s anxieties.