Smart Snacking on the Go

messages Jan 19, 2010

Two major reasons for this week's blog post:

  1. 1.  People often ask me what I eat
  2. 2.  A common "obstacle" is how to eat healthy while traveling  

I know there are a lot of you who travel on a regular basis and may buy into the story that it's impossible to eat healthy while on the road.  Here's the moral of this post:  DO THE BEST YOU CAN.  Make the healthiest choices available to you, be creative, and really open your eyes to what's available.  Healthy choices do exist, and here are a few ideas...


Yes, that freakin' briefcase is bursting at the seams.  As an exercise physiologist I know this is awful for your back.  As a traveler with a bad back, I also know how bad it is from experience.  But this is literally the essentials (spoken like a true woman, no?).  I can't tell you how many times I've gone through this bag committed to paring it down, only to find there's nothing I can take out.  The straps literally tore off my last briefcase.


Yep.  Like I said, just the essentials.  Maybe the bag is just too small?


Before you start wondering if I'm really going to eat all of this, the answer is yes, BUT NOT ALL AT ONCE.  This is my stash, and it took me less than 7 minutes to assemble once making it past security.  It is my travel routine to make sure I am fully stocked and minus the sushi - which is my lunch - this is what I ALWAYS have in my bag:  Peanut M&Ms, trail mix, a bottle of water, and in this instance biscotti cookies left over from a previous flight snack service that were smashed in the bottom of my bag.  These things can stay in my bag forever without going bad, even if they get squished they're still edible, and they ensure that I have balanced energy and can perform optimally regardless of what travel craziness may be going on around me.  

SUSHI:  I ate this as my meal on the airplane.  (Sorry dude sitting next to me for the obnoxious fishy smell).  

WHY IS THIS A GOOD CHOICE?   This is unagi (eel), cucumber, avocado, rice and nori (roasted seaweed wrapper).  Eel is a fattier fish, but it's a better choice than a cheeseburger.  The combination of protein, grains and fat mean it will make me feel satisfied longer, be a longer-term source of energy and will not spike my blood glucose and result in an energy crash.

PEANUT M&MS:  I like having a small handful of these mid-afternoon or as dessert after room service.  These are ALWAYS in my bag.  

WHY IS THIS A GOOD COICE?  They are not a health food, but we all jones for a little somethin' somethin' sweet every now and again, and from an energy management perspective, this is a good choice.  The fat and protein in the nuts make it low glycemic, which again means there's no resulting glucose spike and sugar crash.  Besides, we are all entitled to eat a few foods that simply taste good - our want foods.

TRAIL MIX:  Trail mixes can be a healthy option, or they can be full of sugar, candy and trans fats.  Stay away from the varieties that have candy (too much sugar), yogurt covered nuts (lots of trans fats) or the banana chips (lots of saturated fat).

WHY IS THIS A GOOD CHOICE?  I eat a lot of nuts.  You are what you eat, right?  They are low glycemic, contain unsaturated fat (the healthier kind) and are a good source of protein.  There's a wide variety of mixes and choices, and you can even make your own getting crazy with things like pepitas (pumpkin seeds), soy nuts, pistachios or pine nuts.  The particular blend I have here is not the healthiest, but I am getting burned out on the variety I usually choose.  Again, do the best you can.  It's better than a candy bar.

WATER: Hydration is critical.

WHY IS THIS A GOOD CHOICE?  The environment on a flight is very drying and dehydration can happen very quickly.  Dehydration can lead to poor energy and headaches.  Maintain control over your hydration levels by making sure it's available and sip on it throughout the duration of your flight.

COOKIE:  No redeeming qualities.  I put it in my bag when the Northwest flight attendant gave it to me knowing there would come a time when what I really wanted was a cookie.  These are ridiculously delicious.

In summary, I'm not advocating that everyone follow what I do.  I'm hoping this encourages you to see there are healthy options, and to REALLY look at what choices are available.  Airport snack shops have options - I've seen more than I care to.  Gas stations have options.  Do the best you can with what you have available to you.  Make a conscious choice to buy the healthier option.  Travel is hard - it's stressful, demanding and tiring.  Don't add to it by making nutrition choices that drain your energy, reduce your performance, and harm your health.

I've found something that works for me.  It's easy, enjoyable and I find I can maintain my energy and performance while traveling.  Oops, I gotta service is here.

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