Eat: Healthy on the road

Lunch from Iydea, Brighton

For the past few months I’ve been travelling pretty heavily for work around the UK

In fact, over the past few weeks in particular I’ve spent more time in hotels than in my own bed!

Constantly being on the road is a standard behaviour for many people, but it’s a new to me – so I thought it might be useful to pass on a few tips I’ve learnt along the way… starting with food

I’m pretty health conscious at home – I avoid processed food, buy local and organic foods where I can, monitor the amount of sugar and bad fats in my diet, try to eat mainly whole foods…

I’m no saint – I find it hard to turn down ice-cream or homemade cakes, but I was worried about what it would mean to not be able to have so much control over my diet and cook for myself

** Disclaimer – I’m not a nutritionist – feel free to disagree with my choices! **

Toast for breakfast

BREAKFAST

I love breakfast – it’s probably my favourite meal of the day – quite often once the thought of it pops into my head, I just have to get out of bed and put the kettle on

This means it’s a particularly dangerous time for me to overeat, when every day I’m now faced with multiple options in the form of a buffet table and/or delicious sounding menu

I’m not a massive fan of fried food or eating meat in the morning, so at least I largely duck the eternal pull of the Full English

But I still have had to reign myself in, and these are some of the “rules” and tips I’ve been living by…

  • Avoid the bread, unless freshly baked on site (it will only be the rubbishy stuff)
  • Check if the eggs are free range, ask for them to be freshly poached, boiled or scrambled
  • Ask if they do porridge (they usually do, even if not on the menu) – ask for it to be made with half milk/half water
  • Read the cereal packets and yoghurt tubs – you’ll be surprised by how much added sugar there is
  • Fresh fruit is good (especially if you can nick some for a mid-morning snack!)
  • Ask for still water, rather than sugary juice
  • Monitor portion sizes – avoid ‘eyes bigger than stomach’
  • If you’re staying at a posh hotel with an amazing menu, this is the time to go wild and have the flaky pain au chocolat or smoked salmon and scrambled egg!
  • If you’re staying at a budget hotel with a very processed buffet, don’t be scared to sneak in your own food (and just use their milk) No one will notice!

IMG_2949

DINNER

I’ve got no problems with eating alone – I’m quite happy to take a book along to a restaurant with me and just get on with my meal

  • TripAdvisor is your friend – it’s such a great app to have on your phone to search nearby restaurants and check out the reviews
  • Try to eat at independent restaurants where you’ll get more of an experience and feel for the place
  • But don’t feel bad about going back to trusted chains – sometimes it’s easier to know what you’re getting
  • If you are going to a chain, check out the nutritional info on their website to work out some of the healthier options
  • Be demanding again! Don’t want much dressing on your salad? Ask for it on the side

Having said that, most of the time I choose to eat my evening meals in the hotel – getting a selection of food from a nearby supermarket and having a mini picnic in my room

(Sometimes I’m just forced to ear in my hire car, on my knee – see photo above from a service station on the A1 earlier this week!)

Usually this is because I’ve had a long day of work and just want to relax in my own space

I’ve heard about people doing all kinds of crazy things with hotel kettles and producing meals, but I tend to stick to cold stuff…

  • Use Google Maps to search for nearby supermarkets (I have to say Waitrose and M&S in particular are my favourites!)
  • If, like me, you have an expenses budget, don’t feel you have to spend ALL of it – avoid buying more than you really need to eat
  • Check packaging – how processed is the sandwich you’re about to buy? Sometimes it’s healthier (and cheaper) to buy the bread, filling and a side salad separately
  • Whenever you see free plastic cutlery, take two sets – always handy on the road! (Eating with proper plate, knife and fork has become a bit of a luxury for me)
  • As in general life, I try to stick to largely veggie food in the week – and I often find searching for local veggie and vegan restaurants turns up some good options (Brighton was amazing for this – you have to visit Iydea!)

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GENERAL TIPS

  • It’s easy to think, ‘I’m away from home so I definitely deserve to eat a big bar of chocolate in  my hotel room… every night’
  • Try to avoid the tempting hotel freebies – instead of eating the free biscuits, I usually take them home with me – I’ve not had to buy a new packet for ages
  • Not a fan of UHT milk? Ask the hotel bar or reception for a little jug of fresh – much nicer!
  • Following on from this, one key thing I’ve learnt when staying in hotels – is don’t be afraid to ask for exactly what you want, they’ll probably be able to accommodate!
  • When your actually travelling make sure you take a big bottle of water with you, plus some healthy snacks – bananas and nuts are good, if you have time cut up some carrots
  • Know someone in the place you’re visiting? Drop them a message in advance. I’ve arranged breakfast, lunch and dinner with several friends and former colleagues during my travels – much more fun than a table for one, especially if they can show you the sights!

Do you travel for work? What tips would you add for eating on the road?

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4 thoughts on “Eat: Healthy on the road

  1. Holly says:

    I don’t travel with work now, having a cafe not the same add my office girl days. But you’re advice is fab! I always thought extensive hotel living sounded glam but I know the reality is very different! Good on you for being virtuous- its not easy when away from home!

    • makedospend says:

      Thanks Holly! I’m still definitely not eating as healthily as I do at home, but I glad I haven’t slipped into just eating pizza every night….!

  2. Janet says:

    These are fantastic tips – eating in vegan/veggie places has really improved my diet when travelling. I remember a 5 week trip to the US a few years ago when I must have eaten burgers at least 4 nights a week. By the time I got home I was desperate for salads, vegetables, grilled tofu… anything plain and simple and not deep-fried!

    • makedospend says:

      I definitely know how you feel. A little of something rich in fat and sugar is really satisfying… too much and it just becomes overwhelming

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