FOOD & FITNESS / AUG. 21, 2014
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How to Eat Right While Away on Business

Being on the road can be hectic. Between airports, meetings, and deadlines, it’s hard to eat right. During these busy times, your body needs nutrients more than ever. Plane food and sugary snacks are not beneficial in terms of your health and brain function.

If you are travelling to meet with clients, you want to be sharp and focused. What we consume plays a large role in terms of concentration, energy, mood, and so much more. It’s important to eat right while on the road.

Feed Your Brain

Although healthy choices are vital for all of your internal systems, you want your brain to be in the best shape. Business trips are important, holding a specific objective. You want to be focused at all times, allowing yourself to think logically and clearly.

You need to be focused, which requires proper brain function. So what do you feed your brain?

  1.      Good Fats: Fat has gotten a bad rep, but fats should not be entirely avoided. It’s the types of fat you choose that are crucial to your overall health. Within the solid matter of our brains, 60% is composed of fats. These fats within the brain help to send and receive information through flexible membranes. The best fats to consume are omega-3 and omega-6. Omega-3 can be found in nuts, seeds, fish, and dark leafy greens. Omega-6 can be found within various vegetable oils; safflower, sunflower, corn, grapeseed, and more.
  2.      Protein: Protein is essential in terms of amino acids. These amino acids are building blocks, forming and supporting structures within neurons. Amino acids play a large role in terms of our mood and our general well-being. Tyrosine for example, is used to make dopamine. Dopamine helps us feel enthusiastic, providing a pleasurable effect. This can be found within bananas, avocado, almonds, meat, and more. Tryptophan is another prime example, which is found in milk and turkey. It helps produce serotonin which is responsible for feelings of well-being. Nuts are a great source of protein, they also contain healthy fats.
  3.      Carbohydrates: A ’no carb diet’ is very irresponsible. Your brain needs carbohydrates as a source of energy. Sugar is what fuels the brain, which is broken down from carbohydrates. This doesn’t mean eat chocolate bars all day. The sugar associated with unhealthy food will actually create the opposite effect. Excessive refined sugar causes a burst of energy, followed by drowsiness, headaches, and issues with concentration. You should consume more complex carbohydrates, which are found within whole grain items. These carbohydrates release sugar more gradually and in a more controlled fashion. That means that insulin levels are kept under control, combating the feelings associated with a ’sugar crash.’
  4.      Micronutrients: B-vitamins are essential in terms of energy and neurotransmitter production (e.g. GABA which helps one focus and concentrate). Zinc is another essential micronutrient which is vital for learning and repairing cells. Basically, eat a nutrient-rich and varied diet so that you’re consuming calcium, antioxidants, and everything else your body needs. The best way to get all of the essential vitamins and minerals is to eat a diet high in vegetables and fruits. ’Eat your colours,’ meaning you should be consuming fruits and vegetables of all colours, maximizing the benefits they offer.
  5.      Water: Proper water intake is vital, as water is essential for brain health. Water helps to enhance circulation and prevents the brain from ’overheating.’ In turn, this prevents cognitive decline and possible damage. By the time you feel thirsty, it’s too late. You already have water loss, causing a possible 10% decline in cognitive function.

Tips to Eat Better While Away on Business

1. Plan Ahead

Before you leave, pack some healthy snacks to eat at the airport. Chop up some raw vegetables, make a granola trail mix, and pack your favourite fruit. We now have access to the world, directly at our fingertips. Plan ahead regarding restaurants and food options within your hotel vicinity. Tripadvisor is a great resource to find restaurants in any area of the world.

Most of the time you’ll grab something fast because you do not know where to go. Majority of fast food provides little nutritional benefits. If you plan ahead, you’ll know where healthy eating options are. You do not need to waste time looking, you can go directly to the researched spots.

2. Purchasing Food on the Way

If time was tight and you didn’t have a chance to pack some snacks, make smart choices at the airport. You can find some healthy choices within the airport or train station; turkey sandwich, yogurt, fruit, salads, and don’t forget plenty of water.

3. Invest in a Kitchenette

Depending how long you’re travelling for, you may benefit from a hotel room with a kitchenette. That way, you can prepare healthy meals in the morning and in the evening. Once you find a local grocery store, the options are endless.

4. Avoid Room Service

Don’t order late night burgers and chips to your room. Although you may be tempted, avoid the high-calorie snacks offered within the hotel. Reach for some carrot sticks and hummus or a sandwich on wholegrain bread.

Try not to eat directly before bed either. Eating before bed can create a restless night sleep, meaning you will not be 100% the following day. If you get hungry before bed, eat some fruit or have an herbal tea.

5. Skip the Unhealthy Breakfast Choices

If your hotel includes breakfast, skip the greasy and high-sugar items. Have some whole grain toast and fruit. Breakfast is so essential to start off your day, but you need to make the right decisions. Before you have anything to eat, have a couple glasses of water. Water should be consumed before your morning tea, coffee, or food. This helps replenish your water levels, providing energy and optimal brain functioning.

6. Choose Health Conscious Options When Out

If you’re out with colleagues, don’t be afraid to request a restaurant that offers healthier options. There are plenty of healthy choices when eating out. Be wise with your decisions and ask yourself if that meal is providing your body with the nutrients it needs.

Stick to fish, vegetarian, or lean meat options. It is also best to choose options that are baked, broiled, boiled, or poached. If your meal comes with a side option, choose salad or vegetables. When you do choose a salad, make sure it contains beneficial ingredients. For example, a taco salad may be a salad, but you may as well order a burger. Taco salads have more meat, creamy dressing, and cheese than vegetables. You should also limit the amount of alcohol you have, after all this is a business trip.

Restaurant meals are also very large for the most part. Take half back to your hotel and store it in your fridge. You can have it the next day for lunch. You may have work to prep when you go back to the hotel, you don’t want to fall asleep because of an overly stuffed stomach.

Plan ahead, ensuring your diet is healthy and consistent. You will not only benefit your body and brain, but you will improve your performance and concentration. If you’re already a healthy individual, these choices will come naturally to you.

If not, this will provide you with healthy eating habits that can be turned into routine behaviour. So remember; pack healthy snacks, drink lots of water, and make the right choices. You have the tools and resources, use them. Eat your way to a healthier and more productive you.  

Photo credit: Paul Rysz

 

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