By Nutritionist Claire Turnbull
Whether it is for work, a sporting event or for holidays, travelling is an inevitable part of everyday life for many people. One challenge that can come from this is maintaining a nutritionally balanced diet when you are not in your own home and having to eat on the run and buy food from a variety of places. It can be very easy to fall short on fruit and veggies, not end up drinking enough water and opting for high fat foods because that is all you can find to eat.
But panic not! You don’t have to throw your healthy habits out the window when you travel. All that is required is a little forward thinking.
Before you head away:
Have a think about what you are going to be doing while you are away. Firstly think about the journey. How many meals/snacks might you need during this time? What food will be available? If you are travelling in the car or on a plane (domestic) you can always pack a small chilly bag with sandwiches, fruit and veggies to munch on. Don’t forget to pack a bottle of water too. If you are going on an international flight, you will need to consider what you are allowed to take with you, but you can always take something to eat before you go through customs if you know you will need to have a meal or snack at the airport.
Next, think about what you will be doing while you are away. Where are you staying? Do they have food available at your accommodation? Where is the nearest supermarket and what food options are available nearby? Take time to have a look on line and talk to people who have been where you are going to if that is appropriate and come up with a plan of what you might eat when you are away. Try to maintain some kind of eating routine when you are travelling so you end up getting a good balance of food over a day.
When you get to your destination:
I often recommend that people check out the nearest food store or supermarket to their location and pick up some bottled water (especially if you are overseas and there is an issue with water safety) as well as some fruit and veggies (like carrots, celery and capsicum) which are easy to munch on. It can be very easy to fall short on fruit/veg when travelling.
When eating out, aim to make the best choices when you can. If you are staying somewhere that breakfast is included, remember you don’t have to eat everything and pig out, it might seem like it is ‘free’ and you need to get value for money, but being uncomfortably full and making yourself feel sick is not a good feeling! Look around for wholegrain sandwiches, salads and sushi where possible for lunch. At dinner time, be sure to order salad or vegetables with your meals and avoid heavy, creamy sauces – one course in most cases is enough to eat.
Keep up your hydration:
Whatever transport you are taking, don’t forget to keep up your hydration – particularly when you are flying long distances. Where you are not able to take your own water onto the plane, pack an empty water bottle which you can fill up if possible on the plane. Accept water every time it is offered during the journey and get more if you need it. Also, avoid over doing alcohol, coffees and teas – on a long flight.
Nestlé and the Millennium Institute of Sport & Health have developed a series of nutrition advice sheets for the athlete in you. From what you should eat for your sport to general nutrition tips for athletes - they're a great quick reference whether you're playing at the elite or social level - with handy advice and nutritional tips to power the winter sportsperson in you.
Check out the nutrition advice sheet for eating well as an athlete when you are travelling (pdf, 800 Kb)
Claire is the Nutritionist for the Millennium Institute of Sport & Health, Healthy Food Guide Magazine and runs the private practice Mission Nutrition - www.missionnutrition.co.nz