No matter how devoted you are to healthful eating, chances are that travel, especially of the work kind, throws you off. “Travelling on work means living without a routine. You wake up earlier than usual and tend to eat the wrong foods at haphazard times. This change can cause low energy, make you more prone to illness, stomach disorders, ultimately affecting your attention levels. Plus, you’ll notice you’ve gained weight,” says Naini Setalvad, Mumbai-based nutritionist. Here, simple strategies to keep to your routine, from dieticians and people who’ve been-there-done-that.
Map food along your route
“Planning in advance is important, especially when travelling abroad. I generally become more vigilant a week before, knowing that I might have to eat out for a week,” says Deepak Sahni, Founder-CEO, Healthians.com, based out of Gurugram. Research the area you’re staying in and the one where your office is based out of. Look up nutritional info online and plan what the possibilities are, so you’re not struggling with ordering when you’re halfway through a meeting.
Understand time travel
“If you have a flight at 4 in the morning, eat light the night before, ensuring you have a fresh start the next day. Know that it’s going to be too early to catch breakfast at the airport? Carry a fruit, nuts and a sandwich. Travelling abroad without any sense of time? “Eat light: soup and vegetables,” says Surendra Hiranandani, Chairman and Managing Director, House of Hiranandani, Mumbai. He skips the breads and other grains.
Identify food at the airport
Mentally make a note that you will pick the idli-sambhar-chutney and not the fast food when you reach the airport,” says Naini Setalvad. Many airports have eggs to order, with wholegrain bread. In-flight, it’s tempting to order a sugar-laden juice. Avoid.
Pack snacks before clothes
Bag travel-friendly, nutritious, non-perishable, non-messy foods. Dark chocolate, nuts, dried fruits, energy bars (made of wholesome ingredients like nuts, seeds, dried fruit), green tea bags, wholegrain crackers, fruit like apples, oranges and pears. Budget for three snacks a day. Parag Kulkarni, Managing Director, A O Smith India Water Products, Bengaluru, is always on the move, doing trade and market visits. Carrying nuts is the easiest and smartest option, he says. His team has learnt not to offer him junk food, and keep a packet or two in the car they travel in.
Eat what you’re used to
“I don’t experiment with food while travelling for work. Raw foods (salad, sushi) are a no-no for me, as I don’t want to take any chances with a bacterial infection,” says Kulkarni. Waking at odd hours can throw your digestive system out of whack. Setalvad suggests carrying ginger for motion sickness, while Pankaj Agarwal, MD and Co-Founder, Just Organik, Delhi, starts his day with “A glass of warm water with some turmeric, honey and amla powder.”
Put your laptop where your water is
Always carry a small glass of water that can be refilled. Not a plastic bottle, with all its horrible endocrine-disrupting contents. Karan Tanna, Founder and CEO Yellow Tie Hospitality, Mumbai, is very conscious about water intake both in-flight and on the move, because on a work trip, one can forget about drinking enough. Skip the alcohol in-flight — it only dehydrates. See a coconut water seller along a highway? Stop for a drink.
Choose one cheat
Skip the bread basket which is often fairly standard. “I eat well during the time I know I am going to be active, like when I am attending meetings,” says Sahni. When he’s in a car or on a flight for a few hours, he cuts down on food intake, just eating enough so he’s not hungry.
Pick protein wisely
At the end of a hard work day, it’s easy to turn to pub grub and order a rack of ribs dripping in barbecue sauce. Rahul Singh, CEO, The Beer Café, Gurugram, is cognizant of this, and will pick lean meats like chicken and fish. He’ll also do soup and steamed veggies, so he’s full, especially when he knows it’s going to be a long night.