After one week business trip in good old Germany ending with a 3-days-hardcore-sightseeing tour for a friend visiting me here in Stockholm I immediately knew what my next article would be about: The jungle of hotel brekkie, refreshment stops, dining out & to-go.
Once out of the daily routines we get to see all the different faces food can have (probably the reason why I’m falling in love with it over and over again?) Whether you travel for work or leisure – what starts with the excitement of food exploring can easily shift into stressful hunting for the “real food” providing us with the right boost needed to discover the city, to survive the meeting or simply keep our stomach happy and relaxed. As convenient food for busy people on the go has become within the recent years there are at least as many traps – meals that lie heavy in your stomach – and it’s not only the “obvious” fast food I am talking about!
Okay, honestly, how many of you do actually cook their own food when traveling? Of course this would be the ideal choice according to studies showing that our calorie intake increases with on average 150 calories per meal when choosing the restaurant. Eatery food often contains more fat such as hidden in form of sauces and dressings, and overall more is fried. Makes perfect sense: fat and sugar carry the taste… not accusing the kitchen chefs whose first concern is certainly not keeping their guests in shape, neither do I want to blame the ones who do eat out when the own kitchen equipment is not at hand. No worries, even if exposed to special conditions there are some tricks that will avoid unwelcome weight gain and keep your belly in good mood.
Only 25-25-50 makes complete.
Or: The classical plate method. Back to the basics: Half of the plate should be covered by non-starchy vegetables. One quarter needs to consist of high-protein foods, another one of carbohydrate rich foods. Even if you don’t serve yourself at the buffet or the meal is not pictured on the menu you pretty much always have an option to figure out a rough proportion of the main ingredients. In general and almost an unwritten rule (unfortunately) is: A restaurant meal always contains too little of the veggies. Why not take a glance on the vegetarian options from time to time? Craving for meat or not, bare in mind that everything called “salad” is not necessarily the healthiest choice (no offense, pasta salad).
- Ask to get the sauce or dressing on the side so you can dose it yourself.
- If you still want to go for the pasta (I feel you) you might skip the “extra” bread and go for the side salad instead.
- Even if one of your daily meals doesn’t meet the plate method keep it in mind for the next one and try to balance out by e.g. adding more veggies as a side dish.
After the meal is before the snack.
In need for a fika time? (Sorry, but also my non-Swedish followers need to get familiar with this term…) Not only the cinnamon bun, in general, the obligatory snack you are most likely to find at every corner in town, any minute, for all different tastes. For the ones in a hurry, literally eating on the go – I know you want it convenient and spilling-safe. However, this leaves less options to choose from and often leads to the bakery store. Just be aware that especially the small meals can considerably add up on your daily calorie account, therefore try to not extend 200 kcal and focus on protein rich snacks with complex carbohydrates.
- The “trend drink” smoothie might be refreshing, full of antioxidants and contains more fibre than a juice but it still gives your stomach less to work on – while being high in calories (up to 400 cal / unit). So occasionally you may choose to chew the fruit instead!
- Egg! And there is no more words to say. My number-one-snack and all round talent. I usually always have boiled eggs in the fridge – perfectly portable it completes the protein component of any snack or meal.
- Keep consumption of processed sugar or sweets as low as possible, same old story. However, if you really cannot stay away pick a protein bar instead of the cake or chocolate bar. The protein will keep you full for longer and help maintain your muscle mass.
Not to talk about poop…
Last but not least: Our digestion is pretty much adapted to our daily routines – which means it is put on risk when being in stress situations such as traveling long distances, going from one meeting to the other, without the comforting “rest”rooms. The result: Your stomach feels heavy and uncomfortable, affecting your daily performance. The 3 most effective helpers:
- A proper dose of physical activity (such as walking for a total of 30-60 min / day)
- Drinking lots of water – at least 2 litres per day (water, tea, coffee)
- And again fibre (in form of vegetables and whole grain) will help to keep it going!