Road rules: Six tips for healthy eating while traveling

When you’re traveling, food temptation is down every road and around every corner. Billboards beg you to load up at their buffets, and familiar fast food signs may whisper, “It’s okay to eat here. You know us.” But when you’re a healthcare IT consultant, all of that heavy food may slow you down on the job. Follow our expert tips below for healthy eating while traveling on your healthcare IT assignment, and you’ll be on the road to having more energy in no time.

Pack your snacks
Before you head to the airport, pack healthy snack options from home, such as zip-top bags of Kashi GoLean, dried fruit or a jar of peanut butter, advises Elizabeth Hansen, a travel writer and founder of the Staying Healthy on the Road blog. And of course, make sure your snacks are easy to reach and not stowed under the plane in a checked bag.

Stop and shop
Once on the ground, find the nearest grocery and do a quick shop at the beginning of each work week. Stock up on portable, healthy snacks for noshing on at work when hunger strikes: roasted, unsalted nuts, whole wheat crackers, sunflower seeds, fresh, portable fruit (such as apples, pears and oranges), low-sugar protein bars, individual bags of low-calorie popcorn, mini-containers of peanut butter and individually wrapped string cheese are all great options. Supply your hotel room refrigerator with low-fat Greek yogurt, hummus, carrot sticks, grape tomatoes and low-fat dressing for dipping.

Decide before you dine
If you eat out, -pre- select the restaurant andread through their online menu to determine what you will order before you get there. Tempting smells of fried food are less likely to persuade your decision to eat healthy when you’ve made up your mind beforehand of what you will eat.

Opt for healthy fast food locations
If fast food is your preferred or only option, order wisely. McDonald’s actually has one of the most varied healthy menus available, and its Favorites Under 400 menu provides plenty of portion-controlled choices, though you should watch their sodium count. Also consider Panera Bread, Jason’s Deli, Noodles and Company, Chipotle, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Subway and Blimpie, and ask about their lighter meal options.

 Select the best room service options
Sometimes, a long day and aching feet mean only room service will do. Brett Blumenthal, wellness guru and author of The Healthy Road Warrior blog, advises these room service-ordering tips: Skip the bread, ask for sauces on the side, opt for whole-grain bread on sandwiches, ditch the starchy sides and request dishes with meats or fish that are grilled, poached or baked and vegetables that are steamed or grilled.

Choose wisely in the hospital cafe
The food at the hospital cafeteria isn’t always healthy (even if doctors eat there). It’s still up to you to make smart choices.  Opt for oatmeal with fruit for breakfast, a grilled chicken salad for lunch,  grilled fish, steamed brown rice and vegetables for dinner and water with every meal, and you can’t go wrong. Choose broth-based soups over creamy ones, grilled chicken over fried, vegetarian entrees over beef, small portions over large and salads with dressing on the side. The good news is that many of the hospital restaurants are staffed with helpful cooks who will make your meal to order.