Eating Right on the Go

Frequent travelers often complain of the difficulty of eating well on the road. Fast-food airport meals, lavish business dinners and late night room service often lead to extra "baggage" on the flight home. With a little bit of effort, it's not that difficult to eat healthy on the road without sacrificing your taste buds. Losing weight in 2006 taught me that it pays to be vigilant when eating on the road. Just by sticking to three key "rules" can help you keep from gaining weight and possibly even shed some pounds in the process. This entry is meant to offer a helping hand to those of you tired of eating the Marriott burger at 11:00 PM and then complaining about losing weight.

Be Vigilant at Mealtime - You cheked into your hotel and the only nearby restaurant is a TGI Friday's. You could go for a tasty chicken fried steak or a cheeseburger with extra mayo and fries but you'll probably find other options on the menu. If you're after meat, stick to lean protein (lean cuts of beef, chicken breast, tuna, salmon, etc.), vegetables (not iceberg lettuce), reduced fat dairy,whole grains and some fruit for good measure. Avoid anything fried, obviously, and take a good look at how food is prepared. Olive oil based preparation = good.
Butter = bad. The same goes for dressing - skip the ranch and go for vinaigrette. Also, fat-free does not equal low calorie since so many ideas are loaded with sugars to add flavor. If possible, check if the restaurant has any healthy options. Places like P.F. Chang's, for example, offer a menu called the "Trainer's Table".

Curb your Cravings - I subscribe to the 5-6 meals a day philosophy. It keeps me from gorging myself at mealtime since I haven't eaten in hours, allows me to eat good snacks and keeps my metabolism revving. Mid-morning or mid-afternoon snacks are good if you're eating sensibly and controlling your portions during your "main" meals. My favorite? I pack South
Beach Meal Replacement bars or Balacen Trail Mix bars in my briefcase. They're typically 200-250 calories, have a good balance of nutrients and usually offer a healthy 15-19g of protein. They're satisfying and much healthier than other "snack" options like a scone from Starbucks (500-700 calories) or fast food.

Drink Plenty of Fluids - and for the most part, by fluids I mean water. Just plain old water. It will fill you up and properly dehydrate you which can help with weight loss. Avoid juices (most are loaded with sugar) and full-fat coffee drinks. A tall non-fat latte with Splenda is only 120 calories and will provide you with calcium and protein without a sugar spike. If you really want something different, look for unsweetened tea drinks, Fuze beverages or other low calorie options that are delicious without weighing you down with "empty calories". If you really like juice, look for light options. I drink a light grape juice at home that has 40 calories per 8 oz. as opposed to 120 calories for the regular stuff. As far as I can tell, they taste the same.

These three rules will make a difference when you travel. Sooner or later, I'll post something on exercising while on the road. If you want more tips on how to change your eating habits, check out The Abs Diet. Anyone I know who has tried is really liked it. It's not a diet, per se - more of a change in eating philosophy that allows you to eat really well without depriving yourself.

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