I am writing this for you and anyone who want’s to learn how to stay on track while traveling, or get ideas on how to do it better. I have traveled during show prep, road tripped while cutting for powerlifting, and even spent a month in Iceland (Iceland is notorious for having expensive food). The key to staying on track for me, is to make sure I don’t feel left out or deprived. The moment I start feeling like my travel experience is being affected is when the food cravings start. Food is a very social, emotional, and personal experience for us. No wonder so many of us do better during the week alone and fall off the wagon on the weekend with friends!
Anyone who has ever been on an airplane knows that they don’t exactly provide you with the best snacks for people watching their macros and micros. So packing your own food is the next best option if you want to avoid spending $15 for a tiny side salad in your terminal or getting bloated on salty peanuts and pretzels. Generally airlines allow dry foods but no liquids or creams. My heart was broken once when I had to throw away a jar of hazelnut almond butter at security. Creams also include yogurts, or unfrozen gel packs (like the 6 pack bag ice packs*). So leave those at home and opt for a solid food or even freeze dried that you can mix with water after you pass security. *Note, ice packs are ok to go through security as long as they are still frozen solid.
When I travel, one thing I love to do is immerse myself in the local culture. Weather this means a grocery store in Iceland or the famous Pike’s Place Market in Seattle, you are almost guaranteed to find something good if you shop like a local. On my Seattle trip I took during show prep 2015 with friends, we went straight from the airplane, to our hotel, and then immediately headed to Pikes Market for fresh fish and produce. If you are staying in a hotel you can keep your food in the beverage freezer. Call the hotel ahead of time to see what amenities they have in your room. I like to have a mini fridge with a freezer, microwave, and some decent counter space to be able prepare meals with.
We asked the guys at the market what was the catch of the day and it was salmon! So we purchased a few pounds for it to be our dinner the next night. (We had fridge in the room to keep it good). If you are staying somewhere long term that does not have a fridge, you might need to plan on shopping daily for your food. When I was in Iceland I bought some foods at the grocery store to keep in my room for snacks, like rice cakes, protein bars, and fruits. The rest of it was bought daily since I didn’t have a refrigerator. I was there for a whole month so I had to stretch my dollar when it came to food.
When you are traveling, try to stay away from overpriced pastries and carby foods. They might satisfy a craving or help stop hunger in the moment, but these foods are fast digesting and will leave you hungry and your calorie budget for the day depeleated. If you get hungry between meals, opt for a cup of coffee or tea on the go. I also like to keep meals on me while I am out and about to avoid this, because I am a hungry monster and need to be fed almost every hour.
For shorter trips you can pack and prepared your meals ahead of time. For my 4 day Seattle trip, I brought my own rice cakes, shaker bottle, salads, etc. At Pike’s Market I found fresh produce like avocado, tomato, mushrooms, and even some cottage cheese! I am a big fan of 6 pack bags or any other cooler type luggage or purses. Salads are good to bring on the go so you don’t need to worry about finding a microwave while you are out.
Eating out can get tricky if you are eating specific foods but also trying to enjoy the company of your friends. My work around is, I bring in some of my foods into the restaurant but I order the rest. Coffee is a great option if your diet allows it. Here at Lulu’s cafe I ordered coffee, and a bowl of oats. I had my own protein powder so I mixed that with my oats and made a meal out of it. If you have never mixed protein powder with oats before, make sure you mix the powder with cool water first before adding it to the hot oats and water, otherwise it can curdle and messes up the taste and texture.
Some people really enjoy finger food and snack food when they are out traveling. My alternative to french fries is delicious green beans or other munchy veggies you can snack on. This particular meal was provided by my amazing personal chef, Chef J Looney.
Pre made meals can be kept in a small personal cooler with you during the day and most of the time a restaurant will be ok heating it up for you. Sometimes depending on the food, I will let it just sit in my purse and become room temperature as the day goes on. This is ok with things like green beans, but you want to be careful with meats, dairy, or other foods that can spoil.
Being somewhat consistent is an important thing if traveling is your lifestyle. We have all heard the stories of celebrities freaking out that their breakfast was cooked wrong, but could you blame them for desiring some sort of consistency in their busy and fast paced lives? I am one for simplicity and consistency when it comes to my first two meals of the day. Usually a varying combination of eggs, oats, veggies, protein powder, Ezekial bread, Daisy 2% cottage cheese, pancakes, and sausage.
One thing people don’t realize is that you can cook in the hotel room. I have an electric skillet that is lightweight and easy to use in a hotel. We cooked up enough salmon, asparagus, and potatoes to feed three adults all using the skillet and a few spoons. For cleaning you can’t use the sink, so we go for a wet napkin and sanitizer to clean our dishes. The best part of cooking in your room, you don’t need to travel back to your room after! You can kick back and relax in your pajamas after that. After all, you are on vacation!
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