How to Eat Healthy Anywhere
Although many people worry about what to eat when they are on the road or traveling, it’s actually quite simple. In fact, it doesn’t matter if you are at a gas station, a coffee shop or a fast food restaurant, there is always a healthy option. So, in order to get you set up for success, here are my top tips on how to eat healthy anywhere you go.
The first thing that I want to address, and say loud and clear, is that just because you are eating outside of the four walls of your house does not mean that things need to fall apart. In truth, you can find healthy options just about anywhere you go, you just need to look for them. It doesn’t matter if you are in an airport or on a road trip, the same rule always applies; focus on real food. That means looking for vegetables, fruit, protein, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds. You may not end up be eating the most exciting or elaborate meal, but sometimes you just need to eat like it’s your job and save the fun stuff for another time.
Contrary to popular belief, airports are actually a very easy place to eat well. Of course, as with any public space, there are lots of fast food spots, but there are also lots of sit down restaurants, coffee shops, and convenience shops that will offer lots of whole food options. My top tip at an airport? Once you get to your gate do a little walk around and check out all of the options around you before you commit to anything. Scout out all of the different places, consider all of your menu options, and then you can make the best choice. It may take 5 minutes (at most), but it’s well worth the time.
While gas stations are not known for their fresh food delicacies, it is becoming increasingly easy to find healthy options at gas stations, especially the larger chains. Many gas stations now have small fresh food fridges where they carry things like fruit, cheese, boiled eggs, and sandwiches. You may not find a full meal, but a combination of an apple, a piece of cheese, boiled egg, and pack of nuts can help to create a balanced meal, while keeping things as close to real food as possible.
When someone invites you to their house, the last thing you want to do is be rude, but the truth is you don’t have to. While you may not be in control of what is being served for dinner, you are always in control of what you put in your mouth. Focus on the healthiest food on your plate first and save the other stuff for last. If there is something you really don’t want to eat, just politely decline it but don’t make a big deal about it. You don’t need to explain yourself or give a long-winded story as to why you don’t want to eat it, just say “no, thank you” or “I’m full right now, thanks”, and move on. If you make a big about it, it will be a big deal to everyone else, but if you don’t, they likely won’t even notice.
Fast Food Restaurant
Fast food restaurants have come a long way in the past number of years, and although my first recommendation would be to avoid them altogether, if you do find yourself at one it’s actually quite easy to find a decent meal. Most fast found chains now offer salads with protein, no, it may not be the most perfect salad ever, but it is still a great way to get a lot of veggies in one go. Plus, don’t be shy to customize your order and ask to omit the cheese or ask for dressing on the side so you can control things a little bit more. In addition to salads, you can order a burger but ask for it “protein-style” or in a lettuce wrap instead of a bun. I would actually argue that the quality of the bun and the toppings on the burger are worse than the actual burger itself, so if you can control those two things you will be a step ahead.
Although coffee shops are mostly known for baked foods, many also offer simple items like oatmeal or yogurt. In most cases, the most unhealthy part of coffee shops is not actually the food, but the coffee itself. Once you start ordering flavoured coffees with syrups, whipped cream and sprinkles, things can start to get dangerous. Instead, try and keep things simple with regular coffee, plain lattes, cappuccinos and teas, because those flavoured coffee drinks are more milkshakes than actual coffee.
Whether it’s a client dinner or conference, going in prepared and keeping thing simple is the best way to get through a work event. If you are going to a client dinner, look up the menu before you go so you are not tempted in the moment or by what other people order. If you are at a conference or work function, try to bring something with you just in case; fruit, nuts, or something small you can pack in your bag. I would also recommend scouting out what restaurants or options might be located around the venue so you can pop out and grab something quickly during a break. If you are being fed on location, scan the buffet options and look for vegetables and protein. You may have to pick something apart or make some adjusments, but there is likely an option there that will work.
If you are on the road and sick and tired of eating at restaurants, hit up a grocery store and see what you can find. I’m not suggesting that you buy groceries and start cooking your own meals, but a lot of grocery stores have deli counters with pre-made options or fridges with grab-and-go meals. This is also a great place to buy simple items like fruit, veggies, nuts, or bars that you can use at a later date.
The Bottom Line
I can assure you that no matter where you are, there is always a half-decent healthy option, you just need to look for it. It may take a little more time, or a little customization, but it can be done. Just focus on looking for vegetables, fruit, protein, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds, and you will do just fine.