Nutrition Suggestions On How to Eat Healthy and Exercise While Traveling
By Shannon Montanye
It is that time of year again. Many will start traveling for work and I know your thinking “I’ve been doing great with my diet and exercise at home, how am I supposed to keep it going while on the road?” It just so happens that I have a few suggestions that might help. During most of my career, I have been a corporate and a charter pilot. As opposed to an airline pilot, who actually has a flight schedule, pilots who work on the corporate and charter side of flying really don’t have schedules at all. Trips are constantly popping up at the last minute, and once you get to a destination, the dispatcher always has another place for you to fly. Before you know it, you’re pushing the Federal Aviation Administration’s maximum of a 14-hour duty day. With that kind of a day, one may ask “when do you eat and workout?” Many of the guys that I flew with would go all day without something to eat. There just wasn’t time to grab anything. Some resorted to going through the stocks of junk food and Cokes on the airplane or the vending machines at the airport, but seriously, what kind of nutrition is that? I started carrying my own food with me. I would carry it in a small, soft-sided cooler with enough healthy meals and snacks for the day. If I was on a multiple day trip, I packed food in my luggage for the following days. When I started carrying my “mule pack,” as one of my customer service reps called it, believe me, the guys wasted no time in making fun of me. “Oh there’s Shannon carrying her lunch purse!” Yea, and at the end of that 14-hour duty day, when they were starving half to death because they hadn’t eaten all day, who was laughing then? Here is a list of some of the things that I carried with me: 3oz packages of tuna 3oz packages of salmon Cups of unsweetened apple sauce Nile Spice brand soups (like cup of soup, but all natural and without additives) Clif Builder’s Bars Whey protein powder (don’t forget your shaker!) Homemade trail mix (I used ¼ cup of Ezekiel Cereal, 1 oz almonds, and a SMALL box of Sun maid Raisins) Oatmeal Dried fruit Bottled water (It is important to drink lots of water when you’re just sitting around or you’ll be a bloated sea cow by the end of the day!) When looking at these items, one can see that there is a little of everything from most of the major food groups. Fruits, veggies, protein, and whole grains. All of these foods are great to have while on the run, simply because they don’t require refrigeration. As far as the soup and oatmeal goes, remember most airports do have a Starbucks, which means hot water! Another important point to be made is this: don’t worry about getting this stuff through security at the airport. I’ve traveled many times with these items when flying on the airlines, and it all passed. Liquids they do have a problem with, food they do not. As far as international travel is concerned, you will have to check with your airline to see what will be acceptable and what will not be to bring into that country. I’ve been to numerous towns and cities in Canada, Mexico, and Colombia, and as long as the food was packaged (bought from the store in a package) they didn’t seem to have any issues with that. None of the three countries seemed to have a problem with my homemade trail mix either. Sometimes, we (I and my other crewmember) would get to stay at our destination for a couple of days. If that was the case, we always tried to stay at a hotel that had refrigerators and microwaves in the rooms. Hilton properties are particularly good about having those items in their rooms. If we managed to stay at a hotel with refrigerators, one of the first things we did was go to the grocery store. Non-fat, no sugar yogurt and skim milk were always on the top of my list. Ladies especially, you need to make sure you get your calcium! If you do choose to eat out, choose a restaurant that serves fish and chicken. My fellow crewmembers and I frequented Outback, Texas Roadhouse, and Lone Star. I could get my grilled chicken breast and plain sweet potato, while the guys, who didn’t have the strict diet that I had, could have their steaks. In other words, there is something for everyone at these locations. On the topic of exercise, more and more hotels are including good workout facilities within their establishments. Hilton Garden Inn, Westin Hotels, and Crowne Plaza Hotels, in my experience, have the best facilities. New cardio equipment, free weights, cable machines, medicine balls, etc. If your hotel doesn’t have a nice facility, ask the front desk clerk if they have workout passes with any of the local gyms. A lot of the time, they will either have free passes for hotel guests, or the hotel will have an agreement set up with a particular health club for a reduced-rate day pass. You just have to present your hotel key to the employees at that health club. I have one final suggestion. Let yourself live a little at least one day and one meal of your vacation. If you happen to be in Southern California, have that burger (In N Out Burger), in Florida, have the fried grouper sandwich at St. John’s Seafood, and in Memphis, have some of that awesome BBQ! And don’t worry, no one will tell Steve that you cheated on your diet.Share it!