It is no secret that I’m not a breakfast person. I (sort of) like breakfast food, I just don’t tend to like it at breakfast time. I had a coach once (you know who you are) who tried to get me to eat steak or chicken for breakfast – at five in the morning. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! I have great respect for those of you who can roll out of bed and get the fuel you need. But ugh. I’ve done it. Begrudgingly. Let me wake up, have a cup of tea, putter around for a couple of hours, have a cup of coffee and then, maybe, I’ll feel like eating. When I do eat, please do not let it something gross like cereal. Anyone have a recipe for breakfast noodles?
This is all well and good in the confines of my own domain (and to be honest I don’t do it there either) but eating while traveling is a whole other issue. Wether for work or pleasure it doesn’t seem to matter. As soon as most people start traveling good nutrition is usually one of the first things to go. I am no exception. You can order a salad and make special requests of the kitchen for lunch and dinner but breakfast is tougher. Especially if you are on a plane. Or in a hotel. In a hotel you might be able to stash a couple of items in the mini-bar fridge and some rooms may have a coffee maker in the room, but these days with those (horrible) new pod style pots (seriously – could they waste more plastic?) you often can’t even just make yourself hot water for tea or oatmeal.
It’s tough. Especially if you’re not a morning person. I’ve been so against the idea of not having to leave my room to get my first cup of tea many times I’ve made what I lovingly refer to as camp coffee or tea*. Seem extreme? That’s nothing. I’ve heard of people who travel all the time who take their own sifter so they can get rid of all the sugar in bags of instant oatmeal, people who only book hotels next to a grocery stores (and ideally an organic one) and people who call ahead and get special permission to use the hotel kitchen.
Now that is hardcore. It also seems like a lot of extra work. In my opinion, if I’m on holiday I don’t really want to go to that much hassle. Traveling for work? Who has the time?
But summer is here and that means vacations. It means car trips, and airplanes, and cheap hotels and relatives…. what’s the average, slightly more discerning (and healthier) traveler to do? Never fear, no matter how sketchy, for business or pleasure, there are always options when traveling.
Here are a few of my favourite strategies for a healthier breakfast (and lunch, and dinner and snacks) while traveling.
- Bring your own (green) tea bags. Or if you’re really
addictedworried, a jar of high quality instant espresso. And don’t forget your travel mug.
- For shorter trips pack your (soft)cooler or carry on baggage (yes, everyone should have a cooler) with hardboiled eggs, nut butter, almonds, cereal, miso soup mix, cut vegetables, instant oatmeal, fruit and anything else you might eat. (Hint, this works for lunches too).
- Try to book a hotel room with a kitchen or at least a hotel with an actual restaurant. As in, not one that offers the “continental breakfast” in the lobby which is usually just slang for cakey muffins and pastries. Don’t be fooled by local coffee chain breakfast foods either. They may look healthy, but most of them are packed with hidden calories. Heck, for the amount of calories you will most likely ingest trying to eat healthy at a coffee chain versus the taste factor you would be better off to just splurge on something that actually tastes good.
- Be picky. If you are eating at a roadside stop don’t hesitate to make a few requests. Don’t be afraid to ask the airline attendant or barista for hot water, the bartender for extra lemons or the waiter for extra vegetables. You might not be able to make the perfect choice, but you can usually make a better choice.
- Pack protein and/or meal replacement powders and bars. I’m not a huge fan, ideally real food would always win out, but in desperation they have saved my appetite (and waistline) many the time. Waiting for a delayed flight, stuck in a motel in the middle of nowhere, even in a traffic jam, a good quality shake can be mixed up in a water bottle and chugged anywhere.
- Bring ziplocs and/or tupperware. Have no shame taking extra food if you find something healthy at a buffet, a grocery store or at dinner the night before. Heck, I’ve been known to slip hard boiled eggs in my purse.
- Find your closest farmers market or healthy grocer. Even the big chain grocery stores will have healthy fruits, vegetables and protein options if you look.
- Bring a water bottle. New climates, airplanes, hermetically sealed hotel rooms all contribute to dehydration. Chug, chug, chug!
- Plan ahead! Look at your agenda and acknowledge when you will be hard pressed to find a real meal and when you will want to have a treat. Don’t blow your calories and waistline on worthless food.
- Eat locally. Find out what’s in season where you are planning to go and factor it into your munching. Food is a major part of learning about a culture. If you wanted to eat exactly what you ate at home you would have stayed at home. Enjoy.
*And for those of you who don’t know what camp coffee/tea is I’ll share….
- turn on hot water tap to full.
- open the tea bag you find at the bottom of your purse (or scoop a spoonful of espresso) and place in bathroom glass or coffee mug (if so lucky)
- fill glass with hot water
- summon the strength to leave your room and find something real to eat and drink.