After conquering obesity, losing over 100 lbs, and getting in the best shape of my life, I have learned that when I am taken out of my regular daily routine and environment I can easily fall prey to old eating habits. One of the most challenging situations for me has been while traveling.
This reminds me of a particular airplane trip that I took a few years ago. One that I would soon like to forget if it weren’t for the lessons that I learned.
As I prepared to leave on a three-day business trip, I made sure I had everything I needed. Or so I thought. I had the right clothing, toothbrush, shaving blades, deodorant, and all the necessary toiletries. (I even packed extra undies.) What I didn’t prepare for were my meals that I was so used to having ready during my regular weekly routine at home.
My first challenge was when my flight was delayed and I found myself at the airport for an unexpected extra 2 hours. I was starving. (Well, not literally, but I WAS very hungry.) Since I didn’t want to sit at a restaurant and order grilled chicken and veggies (which would have been the best choice), I grabbed what I THOUGHT was the next best choice. A prepackaged turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread. Healthy, right? WRONG! I later learned that this sandwich had more fat, more sugar and more carbs than if I had ordered a burger a a sit down restaurant. Big oops.
My next challenge was while in the air. I don’t know about you, but I get especially hungry while traveling. Perhaps its not “real” hunger, but it seems these instances awakens my inner “snack monster”. So, I snacked. The problem was that the only snacks available were potato chips, cookies, or honey roasted peanuts. So of course I chose the peanuts—they were obviously the best option, right? Probably, but the issue was that one little bag (ok FOUR little bags) of peanuts didn’t satisfy me. So since eating FIVE bags of peanuts would have been excessive, I had a bag of chips instead. After all that saltiness I got a major sweet craving, which made me reach for a bag of chocolate chip cookies! Talk about a binge!
Luckily, after this binge I fell asleep and when I woke up, we were ready to land. Thank goodness for that or I may have been charged an extra fee for excessive snacking on-board!
The good thing about this trip was that it forced me to think and prepare before embarking on any trip, whether on a plane, a road trip with the kids, or even my honeymoon cruise which I cannot wait to go on!
Here are some rules I learned from this experience, which you too can use to avoid a travel binge:
1) Calculate how many hours you will be traveling and pack adequate meals for that time frame. For instance, pack a healthy sandwich or two that you can take with you on a plane, train, or automobile. By eating real meals you’ll reduce your in-between meal cravings.
2) Be ready for a “snack attack”. Packing healthy snacks will prevent you from impulsively buying all the junk that is sold at airports, rest stops, or convenience stores. My go to snacks are natural trail mix, rice cakes, fresh fruit, string cheese, and even some pretzels. Remember, the fact that your snacks are healthier, does not mean an unlimited amount is healthy.
3) Research where your travels will take you. If on a road trip, map out some places you can stop for meals that offer healthy options. Random truck stops, convenience stores, and fast food chains will probably not offer much on the healthy side.
4) Beware of the buffet! Cruise ships are fun and the food is GREAT! Cruise ship companies pride themselves in serving enormous amounts of food. The good thing about cruising is that you can usually enjoy yourself and indulge while still making some healthier choices. At the buffet, go ahead and enjoy a taste of your favorite foods, but make sure that its limited to a small portion. Fill up with salads, veggies and lean meats to feel satisfied. When it comes to desserts, a spoonful of this and a bite of that should suffice to break the craving.
Enjoy your travels, have fun and stay healthy!
Eli Sapharti, world renowned motivational speaker, author, and weight loss coach, is the creator of the “One Step at a Time” principles to sustainable weight loss. His first book, Fat Boy to Fit Man is now available. Follow Sapharti on Facebook and on Instagram at @fatboyfitman.