How many of you travel regularly for work? As someone who used to run a traveling business I can really I appreciate the challenge it is to stick to your clean eating when you’re on the road. Probably the number one reason I got so good at food prep was because every other week I had to plan for 3-4 days at the racetrack, living between my truck and a hotel.
I would pack up a giant cooler with things like oatmeal, quinoa, my special gluten-free bread, hardboiled eggs, pre-cooked turkey and chicken breast, bags of pre-washed greens, protein powder, a shaker cup, plastic silverware and paper bowls, ziplock bags of organic walnuts and raisins – basically all my staples. It really saved me a lot of money and helped me make it through 10-12 hour days with enough energy and a healthy immune system.
These days my life looks a little different. I don’t travel to racetracks every other week any more but Betty Rocker still travels to do events, and that usually involves flying somewhere. In the midst of my 3-week move from Denver to Austin (which presented its own unique set of clean-eating challenges), I went to San Francisco for a 3-day entrepreneurial convention and had to figure out how I was going to handle my healthy eating strategies on the road.
TSA regulations around bringing some food with you are actually pretty reasonable. You can definitely carry some things on with you, and choose to pack a few others if you’re checking a bag:
“Medications, baby formula and food, and breast milk are allowed in reasonable quantities exceeding 3.4 ounces and are not required to be in the zip-top bag. Declare these items for inspection at the checkpoint. Officers may need to open these items to conduct additional screening.”
What To Bring
Being prepared with some food you can bring with you is the name of the game on the road, and on this 3-day trip it saved me from being hungry in my hotel room – and being tempted to eat the candy in place of real food. Not to say you can’t indulge – but it’s a very different thing to choose to enjoy candy or snacks than it is to binge on it, or eat it because you don’t have a better option.
I was able to pack all of these things in one of my checked bags – though on the way home I simply put what I had left in a grocery bag and used it as one of my carry-ons. As long as you’re not bringing liquid, you should have no problem.
My list: big ziplock bag of washed kale (shredded into bite-size pieces), 2 cans of tuna, a few apples, an avocado (to mix into the cans of tuna for a quick snack), a bag of walnuts, my cinnamon, pre-cooked overnight oats (and I transported them in a ziplock bag), my Raw protein shakes, Vega One shakes, a bag of hemp seeds, some fresh ginger and a lemon.
To complete my Betty Rocker Traveling Fitness Barbie Accessory Pack (haha) I also brought: a shaker cup, a tupperware container, a plastic spoon, knife and fork.
All together, this stuff took up less space in my checked bag than one of my big pairs of Steve Madden boots.
Keeping Your Immune System Healthy
Don’t you just love it when you end up right next to someone on a 3-hour flight who is sneezing, coughing or blowing their nose the whole time? It’s inevitable. Most people don’t have very healthy diets, one of the number one reasons for a compromised immune system.
One of the reasons I really pay attention to drinking my fresh lemon and fresh ginger in hot water daily is because of the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties they deliver to my system. I bring that stuff with me when I travel too. You can definitely take some kind of pre-made immune booster, but why not just eat real food that has those benefits? Every hotel you’re going to stay at has a coffee maker, which means brewing some hot water is easy.
Sticking to your clean eating by bringing some or all of the foods I suggested – and don’t forget those fresh dark, leafy greens – will also help you avoid getting sick. Make sure you stay hydrated, avoid excess sugar and get a good night’s rest.
Keep Your Blood Sugar Stable
To really meet or maintain your lean physique goals, be aware of one of the main causes of weight gain issues: high and low blood sugar fluctuation. I have talked about this before, but let me reiterate: it is really important to keep your blood sugar stable. We don’t want to skip meals, because when blood sugar drops too low we often overeat or make poor choices at our next meal. When it’s too low, your brain will start looking for quick energy solutions and those are often going to look like high sugar or high fat convenience foods – which will totally spike your blood sugar – the other undesirable extreme that causes our body to release insulin and trigger fat storage.
I decided to document the first day that I was on the road in one of my Photo Food Journals. As you can see, I was able to get up early enough to make myself an egg/greens/quinoa lunch to eat on the plane, which is exactly what I did.
8:30 am Overnight oats with unsweetened coconut flakes, raisins, hemp seeds and walnuts before I left.
12:30 pm Packed this to go, ate it on the plane: 2 eggs and some egg whites with quinoa and garlic/kale
3 pm A piece of Starbucks chocolate cinnamon bread – this was a better option while I was stuck on a layover in the airport with no access to my snacks than not eating anything. It was delicious. Remember, cinnamon helps stabilize your blood sugar – I put some in my espresso shot while I was eating this too. I’m sure this bread had some things in it that weren’t as good as what I’d make for myself, but it was more important to eat something than nothing.
6 pm Snack at the hotel from my bag: walnuts and an apple
Water all day
9 pm Dinner with a group of people from the conference ended up late at a burger joint – I got some protein and fat in my system with a burger and some avocado. Having eaten throughout the day really helped me to not feel starving late at night, which is something that could easily happen. It’s the number one time we get those sugar cravings too. Makes sense if you haven’t fed yourself enough nutrients throughout the day.
Portable Green Smoothies?
While I was at the convention, my good friend and creator of Simple Green Smoothies, Jadah came to join me. She lives in the bay area and brought her Magic Bullet with her, along with a bag of fruit. We combined our ingredients and blended up a delicious green smoothie one of the days we were there (recipe pictured).
I think that in the future, I may consider getting a Magic Bullet to travel with. It is small and lightweight, and wouldn’t take up much space. It doesn’t really blend things up like my Blendtec, but I’d rather use it short-term than not at all. It’s just one more idea for you to try.
Working Out on the Road
I also found it challenging to fit in time for working out during this trip, as we were scheduled to be at the conference from 8am to 6 or 7pm each day. Lunches were an hour and a half long, but it was an important time to just go for a walk, step away from the mental work and tune out.
I quickly prioritized what would be the MOST HEALTHY for my body, and determined that sticking to my clean eating was #1, getting enough water and rest was a tie for #2, and fitting in a workout would be #3. I was actually able to do that on the first and third day, and to maximize my time I opted for one of my HIIT workouts on day one, and one of my Anywhere Workouts on day three. I felt amazing afterwards!
Hotel Gym Circuit and More:
5 Best Travel Workouts
You can definitely get more, in-depth information about anti-inflammatory food, eating around food allergies and intolerances and eating while traveling and at restaurants in the Fuel System, the totally awesome ebook I wrote in 2012 to share with you all the stuff I have learned and applied to get in and maintain the lean body physique I want (at 36) with food – no matter where I am.
Let’s face it, traveling along with all of the other crazy things in life like moving, death and taxes, break-ups, accidents and all the rest can cause huge amounts of stress. Sometimes just having the right information about what to eat when can make the difference to how we weather life’s storms.
Happy, safe travels to you all – until next week!