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This last weekend I made the pilgrimage to Austin, Texas for PaleoFX, the largest paleo conference held each year. Even though thousands of people congregated to push the boundaries on ancestral living, I still found it quite tricky to find easy ways to stay healthy while traveling.
When traveling, your normal routine gets thrown out the window and you are left having to improvise on how to stay healthy. Using the following six guidelines will help keep you on track and prevent any type of slips that make you feel fatigued and lethargic after traveling instead of relaxed and rejuvenated.
Eat before traveling
One of the easiest ways to make a bad decision with your nutrition is to travel hungry. When you’re hungry, you’re likely to eat and when you’re traveling, you’re likely to not have any good options available. Have you seen most airports/airplane food recently? I wouldn’t wish those food options on my worst enemies. Eating healthy given your options in an airport or on an airplane is an extremely difficult task.
So how do you get around this? Some of you may already be doing this, but eating large high fat, moderate protein meals will generally keep you full for a much longer time than will a diet of moderate snacking on protein and carbohydrates. The answer? Have a meal high in fat and moderate in protein right before you leave to the airport.
Taking my own advice before the flight from San Francisco, what did I do? I feasted on a giant grass fed rib eye and a little bit of steamed broccoli. Yes, it it cooked perfectly. Don’t believe me? Here is proof:
Eat a high fat, moderate protein meal before you’re traveling and you’ll likely be able to stave off any hunger that will result in making poor decisions with what you’re given.
Although I was relatively fine during my travels due to stuffing my face with fatty meat before hand, some of my paleos I was traveling with planned ahead. They had their bags stocked with homemade trail mixes, others had packs of beef sticks and SafeCatch canned tuna. Not only are these snacks for traveling, but also when you get your destination.
Have you ever stayed with friends or family where the only color in their fridge is on the packaging of the food and not the food itself? What about at a hotel that is isolated in the middle of a row of conference building that has no available restaurant but a Chili’s? These are the true times where planning ahead and packing your whole foods snacks pays off.
Planning ahead and packing your own snacks will provide you with healthier options when away from home. Favorites and good choices include packs of fish from VitalChoice or SafeCatch, meat bars from Brick or Epic, tiny packs of almond butter or coconut butter from Artisana, or homemade trail mixes from the bulk sections at your local whole foods store.
Keep in mind if you aren’t checking a bag that some of this may be confiscated. Proof of lost coconut butter and almond butter:
#TSA just had to go and jack my #nutzo and #coconutbutter now I know why all my patients tell me its so hard to be healthy while traveling! @nutzo
A photo posted by Anthony Gustin DC, MS (@thepaleofix) on
Exercise on the road
Traveling usually (especially for conferences) will include a lot of sitting around and waiting. Waiting at the airport to check in, to get on the plane, to fly to your destination, to get off the plane, etc. Standing around, sitting around, waiting in more lines… You get the idea. The best thing to do to keep from getting achy and stiff is to keep moving as much as possible. Not only does this keep you feeling great, a good workout right when you get to a new time zone helps readjust your body and make the jump much more tolerable.
If you’re into CrossFit/Olympic Lifting, prepare yourself in advance. Yes, it is 2015 and there are countless functional fitness gyms, but you’d be surprised at how many of them have websites that take 45 minutes to navigate and no clear instructions on how to drop in, how much it costs, what the workout will be or where to sign up and when the classes are. If you haven’t planned in advance, this can be troubling. If you want to go to a gym, look them up in advance.
In my opinion, you can get a solid workout in anywhere, no matter the conditions. Download a Tabata timer, choose a few bodyweight movements, and if 12-16 minutes later you’re not taxed, you’re not doing it right! Need some extra load? Then use your suitcase or bring along some bands. Just keep moving, and moving well. Your body will thank you later.
Master eating out
Chances are when you’re traveling, you’re not going to be doing a lot of your own cooking. While we’ve already addressed this before, mastering eating out is the easiest way to stay healthy traveling. Some of the easy tips would be:
– Substitute bread, buns, tortillas, wraps, pasta for lettuce wraps/nothing
– Go lean with the meats so you aren’t getting fatty cuts of conventionally raised animals
– Sub sides for veggies
– Ask for salad and veggies dry (you don’t know what you’re getting on there most of the time)
– Don’t eat and wait until you can find a good option
Don’t be afraid of being that weird or needy person that is altering their order. If the restaurant can accommodate you, they certainly will try their best to do so. Make the best choices when you’re out and try not to get too hung up on every little detail.
Stock up when you’re there
As shocking as it may seem, stocking up on healthy foods when at a giant paleo conference was not all that easy. There were hundreds of vendors with paleo “approved” items and as tasty as they were, copious amounts of sampling actually represented constant snacking and blood sugar hikes.
The easiest way to get ahead here is exactly what I did: head to a whole foods store. This can be Whole Foods or any type of local store that has health foods. Hell, this can even be a farmer’s market. I tend to go local as much as I can to see the regions best sourced ingredients. In Austin, Whole Foods is local, so I raided the HQ and stocked up on cold brew, eggs, beef jerky and nuts. Find whatever you like and keep your back up snacks for when you’d otherwise fall off the wagon.
This is something that looking back on is easier to evaluate. Losing out on sleep hugely affects your mental status, metabolism and overall health. Spending four days switching sleep schedules, staying up late and waking up early made me feel like I’ve been on a week long bender even though I didn’t drink at all. This is what happens when you fall off an otherwise 8-9 hour nightly deep sleep regimen.
A difficult way to do this is getting sleep on planes and or in travel situations. One of my pro tips has always been to invest in a sleeping mask. Light will destroy any amount of sleep you hope to get, and a sleeping mask is the easiest and cheapest insurance against that.
Try to stick to getting up when you normally would and exercising right in the morning. It may be miserable the first day or two but you’ll be glad you did the following days.
Time zone changes and unfamiliar sleeping quarters may also be against you. If this is the case, you can use a little bit of melatonin before “bedtime” to readjust your body’s secretion of certain hormones. Don’t depend on this however.
Use our guide for hacking your bedroom for more tips on how to get your sleep cycle right when traveling.
1 – eat before traveling
2 – plan ahead
3 – exercise on the road
4 – master eating out
5 – stock up locally
6 – prioritize sleep
I hope you learned a new tip or trick that will help you stay healthy while traveling this year. Do you have any tips or tricks of your own how to stay healthy? Then comment on this post or let us know on social media!
Do you like learning how to take care of yourself from a food and fitness standpoint? Excellent! You can find more awesome resources for taking your movement and physical performance to the next level each week over at The Movement Fix by Dr. Ryan DeBell with Movement Fix Mondays.