Niki Campbell by Niki Campbell

Whether your job takes you across town or across the country for meetings, presentations and other opportunities, you must eat. And eating a balanced and nutritious diet on the road is one of the biggest challenges faced by those who spend considerable time traveling.

The “road warrior” lifestyle is one that can create and/or exacerbate health issues. Researchers at the Harvard Business Review analyzed data from EHE, Inc., a company that provides preventive medicine exams, health screenings and wellness program services to companies in the U.S. They found a strong correlation between the frequency of business travel and various health risks, especially among professionals who traveled more than 14 days a month. From higher BMIs and increased depression to lack of adequate physical activity, business travelers face real barriers when it comes to sustaining healthy habits on the road.

At the top of the list of challenges for the business traveler is dining out. Travel nutrition can include everything from fast food at a highway rest stop to five-star dining with cocktails, multiple courses and dessert. Or, even worse, travel schedules may mean skipping meals all together.

If you find yourself fueling up in airports, hotels and drive thrus, eating healthy can seem nearly impossible. However, with some preparedness and planning, you can keep up your healthy eating habits on the go. Check out these common-sense tips for travel dining success:

  1. Power up with protein. Start your day with a protein-packed breakfast that will keep you from being hungry and making less-than-desirable choices later in the day. Whether that means making breakfast at home before hitting the road or enjoying a hotel breakfast buffet, be sure to make healthy, hunger-fighting protein the focus. A breakfast of eggs, fresh fruit and whole grain toast with a little butter provides a well-rounded, nutritious start to your day.
  2. Pack snacks. Snacks have come a long way. You can ditch the bag of greasy, salty chips for healthy, delicious and filling snacks that aren’t loaded with empty calories. Today’s snack options include low-fat, low-sodium options that provide sustained energy between meals. Plan ahead and pack nuts, granola bars, fresh fruit, low-fat cheese sticks or veggie and hummus packs.
  3. Don't fear fast food. Fast food or fast casual restaurants are inevitable on the road. When faced with that as your only option, don’t fear the menu. Instead, break it down by entree/sandwich, side and drink and make the best choices in each category. Choose grilled over fried, salad over fries, water over soda, and steer clear of value meals that are oversized.

Learn how you can combine nutrition and behavior change principles to help your clients develop life-long dietary habits for better health. Become an ACE Fitness Nutrition Specialist