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Tips on healthy eating for frequent travellers – I

Rohini Diniz


It is a widely accepted fact that whether one is on a business trip or a family holiday, travelling affects our food choices. Studies have shown that people who travel frequently especially on business trips are at an increased risk of developing obesity, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels on account of long periods of inactivity during travel, not getting time to exercise on account of work, decreased sleep, increased stress, irregular meal times and eating larger portions of rich foods especially at night.

With a little proactive planning and firm commitment to self care, one can enjoy a variety of foods without piling on kilos while away from home no matter how much one travels. The secret is to choose foods wisely and stay as active as possible during your trip. Here are some tips.

Plan ahead to have healthy foods and snacks during the journey: Depending on what time you are going to begin your journey, have a full meal before leaving home and do the same when travelling back home. If you are travelling by flight do not depend on airport food. Carry dry packed items such as sandwiches, parathas or missi rotis (chapattis which have leafy vegetables kneaded into the dough) that you can eat while in transit. Also carry roasted nuts and dry fruits that will come handy in case of unexpected delays at the airport.

If travelling by car carry plenty of drinking water, fresh fruits and dry packed meals such as sandwiches, parathas, idli-chutney or missi rotis that can be eaten along the way. If you stop at wayside eateries or hotels avoid deep fried food and sugary snacks. Remember not to drive for too long without eating.

Do not let boredom lead to overeating: Long hours of travel especially by plane or train, stop over’s and transits at airports can lead to snacking out of boredom. Avoid this by carrying good books or magazines to read, listening to music, playing games or solving crossword puzzles or Sudoku on your laptop, tab or iPod to keep boredom at bay.

Follow the same healthy eating principles as at home:

Eat meals at regular time. Do not stay without eating for too long or overeat at any particular meal.

Drink around 10-12 glasses of water throughout the day especially if working in an air conditioned environment.

Begin the day with a proper breakfast. Most business hotel restaurants offer a wide choice of breakfast items. Good Indian breakfast options include upma, kanda pohe, Idlis with sambhar and chutney, puttu with kadala curry or iddiappams, dosas preferably sada varieties or uttappas with sambhar and chutney, appams and egg curry or chapatti with subzi As far as possible avoid items like parathas, puris, medu vadas and other deep fried items as they are high in fat.

For those who prefer continental style breakfast, whole wheat bread with egg, cornflakes with milk, oats or dalia with milk are good choices. Continental breakfasts also include items such as croissants, waffles or donuts. These items are made using refined flour and are high in sugar and fat especially saturated and trans fat. Limit yourself to one croissant or waffle or donut and have them topped with fresh fruits instead of jam, butter or honey.

Round off your breakfast with a bowl of fruit but avoid fruit juices as far as possible. Breakfasts containing adequate amount of carbohydrate, protein and fibre keeps one full and also provides a steady supply of glucose and hence energy over a longer period of time.

Add less sugar in your tea or coffee.

During meetings, avoid snacking on biscuits or fried foods. Have only unsweetened green tea, tea or coffee. If nuts are offered have only a small handful.

When frequenting restaurants for business lunches and dinners, make appropriate food choices. Remember you can enjoy all types of foods but in moderation. Portion control is the key to maintaining weight.

Restaurant portions are too large for a single person. So order one or two dishes and share it with a colleague. Eat almost the same amount of food as you would do at home. Unless you are going to stick to eating small portions, avoid buffet meals and unlimited Thali meals. They promote overeating.

Whenever possible avoid heavy dinners. But if you know ahead of time that there is a business dinner planned, cut back on calories by having a light lunch and avoiding snacks earlier in the day. Similarly if you have eaten a heavy lunch on a particular day, have a light dinner such as a soup or a bowl of fruit salad without custard or ice-cream.


To be continued . . .


(The writer is a Consultant Nutritionist practising in Panaji and Margao)


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