December 7, 2012 by mybattlebuddyfitness
Surviving Holiday Travel
Without fail, December is always my craziest travel month. I tell myself every year, no, this year, I’m going to be smart about this, not travelling when the ENTIRE world is on the move. I’m going to stay home in December, hunker down for the holidays, be super productive, enjoy the comforts of home. But then things come up, like my brother getting engaged and having to throw him an engagement party in DC, or work deciding at the last minute that I need to be in Chicago for a client meeting, or going for broke and celebrating the new year in Mexico. And before I knew it, I was programmed to be on the road for 11 days in the month of December. Today is day one of that whirlwind travel tour across the USA. Up at 30,000 feet right now, I am questioning the wisdom in signing up for all of this.
The worst thing about travel is that it can throw off your entire schedule – sleep, work, exercise. But the worst is food. All of that discipline can go straight out the window when you leave your home and the routines you have developed there. And it all starts on the travel day itself. You slip up on that day, and you can easily spin out of control for the remainder of the trip. You figure, well, I screwed up today, I’m probably going to screw up when I travel back home, might as well just let it go for a couple of days. 4 days later you are back home, feeling physically bad since you are likely putting things into your system you would NEVER put into your system (I am thinking that McDonald’s hamburger at the airport), and then mentally beating yourself up for letting your diet get out of control.
So have a plan, a strategy for that first travel day to minimize the bad behavior, and you are likely to feel so good about staying on track that you will carry that through your entire trip. Here are some tips that I try to follow when I fly:
1) If at all possible, fly when you wouldn’t necessarily need a meal. It can be hard because the cheapest tickets are not always going to fall during these times, but flying first thing in the morning, during the middle of the day, or late in the evening makes it easy to plan. In the morning, you can grab a cup of coffee and some fruit on the go, make some oatmeal before you run out the door, and by the time you land, into your lunch routine. Middle of the day is perfect, you eat lunch before you go, and dinner when you land. And late at night? Awesome, you’re all done with food for the day anyway, and it is time for bed when you land.
2) Plan ahead. If you have to travel when you will need a meal, don’t count on the airport as your source of food. It is a dangerous place filled with lots of processed foods that can be super tempting. Instead, make yourself a meal that you can take with you. I packed up my leftover chicken and veggie strifry from last night with some black beans and tucked the Tupperware into my hand luggage. On this long flight, I am sure to get hungry, and when it strikes, I am prepared.
3) Bring snacks. Even if you are not going to need a full meal, seeing other people eating on the plane might give you a case of the munchies. Go for whole foods – fruit (I love a good apple or a pear, and grapes are the perfect popping snack), nuts (a handful of almonds will feel super satisfying on a flight), and veggies (I praise the person who invented those little baby carrot to-go packs).
But even the best laid plans sometimes fail. Your flight is delayed, you are sick, the kids are sick, a project comes up at work . . . any one of these things might keep you from doing your prep work. So now what do you do?
1) Choose whole (and preferably raw) foods at the airport. It’s simple: go for salads (skip the high calorie dressings, croutons, and cheese), fruit, or raw veggie packs (I usually get mine at Starbucks, but I am sure they are available in lots of stands) FIRST. If none of those tickle your fancy, I’d try for a ‘bowl’ at a Mexican food place – load up on beans, veggies, lean meats, and salsas (pass on the cheese and the rice), sushi & edamame from the Japanese place, or a sandwich (whole grain bread, or a wrap, and again, light on the cheese and mayo, lean meats – Subway is not a horrible option if you go for one of those Jared subs).
2) Get your food in the terminal, not on the plane. Boy oh boy, those on board options are dismal, and completely processed. You would be hard pressed to find anything redeeming on a plane, so try to pitstop in the terminal, where odds are you will be able to find something on the healthy side.
3) Let the drink cart whiz on by. Nothing good comes from drinking on the plane. Not even soda. I don’t know about you, but even a diet soda can make me hungry (probably the spike in my brain thinking it has just had something sugary and is now ready for food). Flights will dehydrate you for sure, so push the water through your system. If you want something other than water, I’d say go for coffee or tea. A little more natural, can give you a caffeine boost, and the warmth will trick your brain into thinking it has had something more than a liquid.
Getting off on the right foot is a great way to start your trip. You’re likely to keep up your other healthy habits if you can begin your trip in a healthy way. Save your calories for eating an awesome meal with your family and friends at the other end of the trip.
Written by Melissa Eisner