Tips for Eating Healthy Away from Home
With a busy schedule that may constantly keep you on-the-go, it's difficult to find time to eat healthy on a daily basis.
It's even more of a challenge to eat healthy while you are away from home, traveling for business or pleasure. Holistic nutritionist Lisa Margolin, co-author of ViVa's Healthy Dining Guide, the nation's most comprehensive directory of more than 2,000 vegetarian, healthy ethnic, and natural foods restaurants and markets, offers these tips for eating healthy while away from home:
Tip One: Start healthy! When you start the day with a healthy breakfast, you are more likely to eat well through the day with less snacking on junk food. Start at a local juice bar and order a fresh fruit smoothie with soymilk, have protein powder added and even nutritional enhancers if they appeal to you. If your plans are to eat at the hotel or a nearby restaurant, order hot oatmeal, and ask for raisins or nuts to put in it. If you eat eggs, order them poached for less fat.
Tip Two: Remember to travel lite. Eat foods that are easy to digest when traveling. Digestion is more difficult when you are not following your daily routine so it's important to compensate for this by selecting lighter fare. Choose soups... heartier bean soups offer a good source of protein and are more filling; lighter soups like miso will provide an energy and immune system boost. Eat salads to make sure you get the fiber and vegetables you need. If a salad bar is offered, add peas, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, beets and other colorful vegetables for a nutrient rich meal.
Tip Three: Bigger is better at lunch. When possible, eat your main meal at lunch and a light meal at dinner. This is a healthier way to eat whether at home or traveling.
Tip Four: Drink plenty of water to keep your system hydrated while you travel. Keep a water bottle with you so you have easy access to drink it throughout the day.
Tip Five: Explore your choices. Look for ethnic restaurants that will offer a healthy variety of foods. What should you get and where? Chinese restaurants may have a separate vegetarian menu. If not, you can always order a mixed vegetable dish, with bean curd for the protein. Most Mexican restaurants offer black bean soup, bean burritos and may offer food prepared without lard. Be sure to ask your server in advance about how the food is prepared. Italian restaurants usually offer escarole or broccoli rabe sautéed with olive oil and garlic. Add a soup like minestrone or pasta fagioli for a full meal. Or order a pasta dish with marinara sauce and a salad. Thai restaurants use lots of vegetables and Japanese restaurants all offer miso soup, and many have sautéed spinach, a tofu appetizer, and possibly tofu teriyaki. They may agree to prepare it for you even if you don't see it on their menu. Middle Eastern places offer selections like hummus, tabouli, and baba ganouj that are healthy vegetarian alternatives to eating a heavy meal.
Tip Six: Really in a hurry? For a quick breakfast or lunch, look for ready to drink soy shakes that you can refrigerate in a cooler, or in your hotel room's refrigerator. Dried fruits, nuts, seeds, trail mix and protein bars travel well and are good for healthy snacks on the road. Seek out the local farmer's market or natural foods store for fresh, organic fruits to snack on. The natural foods store may have a juice bar where you can order fresh vegetable juice and smoothies. They may also have a deli with grab-n-go wraps, sandwiches, salads, soups, and burritos for a quick and healthy meal.
Tip Seven: Business meeting for dinner? When eating out with business associates, look for a vegetarian entrée on the menu. Typically most restaurants are willing to accommodate special dietary requests. Ask your server after you have checked out the menu. Ordering in? Even fast food places like Subway now offer vegetarian subs prepared with whole grain breads. Many restaurants offer veggie burgers to accommodate their customers who follow a vegetarian diet, so the choice of restaurants for vegetarians is becoming more extensive. Remember to take along your copy of ViVa's Healthy Dining Guide when you travel to find healthy dining options across the country.
Tip Eight: Work out. Ask in advance if your hotel has a fitness room. When you arrive back at your hotel room after a big meal, spend a few minutes riding the stationary bike or walking on the treadmill to help you digest your meal before bedtime. You will sleep more comfortably and awake feeling refreshed and energetic.
About the Author
Lisa Margolin, J.D., M.S., is a holistic nutritionist and co-author of ViVa's Healthy Dining Guide, a comprehensive directory of more than 2,100 vegetarian, healthy ethnic, and natural foods restaurants, and markets across the United States. For more information on healthy lifestyles visit www.healthybelly.com.