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Three “Eating Away From Home” Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Backpackers
Image by garryknight via Flickr

This weekend was a complete fail for me. We took two shuttle buses from Bloomington, IN to West Lafayette, IN, met the family for dinner, and drove home the next day. Simple, right?

Here’s what I learned from a short trip gone (nutritionally) wrong, so now I know what to change next time.

1. I skimped on water.

Since I knew we were going to be on small buses (no bat

hrooms) for about four hours, I didn’t drink water like I normally do in the morning.

  • The result: Dehydration, Crankiness, Stomach Ache.
  • Why this was silly: We didn’t actually catch the first shuttle until 12:45 pm.
  • Next time: Drink a couple of glasses of water first thing. Be conscious of when you’re leaving, and cut back liquid consumption only 2 hours ahead of time, and only if you have to. (Many larger buses, and Amtrak, do have restrooms onboard.)
  • The payout: A well-hydrated body reduces the risk of headaches, constipation, and dry eyes (especially if you wear contacts) while traveling. By restricting your liquid intake only 2 hours before departure, you only have a little ways to catch up and rehydrate when you arrive.

2. I forgot to pack a variety of snacks.

  • The Result: I did OK on the ride, but as soon as we got to our destination, I was ravenous and I craved salty, greasy, high-calorie food. I scarfed down a huge plate of sweet and sour pork and a bowl full of white rice.
  • Why this was silly: All that oily food made my stomach hurt even worse. (I’m not used to eating it.) I shoveled it all in my mouth without enjoying it, and I left still feeling unsatisfied, and a little bloated. Pointless!
  • Next time: Plan ahead, and bring along some protein, some carbs, and some fat. Think whole foods and whole grains: Almonds, a banana or apple, maybe some whole grain crackers and some peanut or sunflower butter, if you have a good way of carrying it.
  • The payout: A mix of carbs, protein, and fat will keep you sated longer, and won’t put you through blood sugar spikes and crashes. Since you won’t feel like you’re starving to death, you’re much better prepared to make healthy food choices when you arrive at your destination.

3. I failed to plan the whole trip.

  • The result: I wasted a lot of time waiting.
  • Why this was silly: I hopped on a bus to the shuttle pick-up area because I was not aware of the fact that I had 2 hours to get there. I could easily have walked in about 30 minutes. By taking the bus, I wasted the opportunity for a morning walk and ended up sitting and reading for 2 hours.
  • Next time: Be conscious of when your next bus, train, plane, etc. is leaving, and of how long it will take you to get there. Map out the route the night before, and leave early enough that you’ll be able to walk there. If it’s too far to walk, give yourself enough time to take a walk before you have to leave, or to walk around once you get there (think: airport).
  • The payout: Planning ahead to make sure you have enough time to get some exercise before sitting all day has its own rewards. If you’ve exercised a bit and stretched, you’ll stave off those muscle cramps and backaches that come from being scrunched into a seat for hours on end.

A couple more things to remember: Plan for breakfast, and try not to get it from a drive-thru. If you’ll be eating on the road, choose mindful meals over mindless snacking. Instead of munching nonstop as the train rolls along, for example, grab your snack bag and head to the cafe car. Share a table with someone (the best part about train travel), lay out your food like a little meal, and eat. When you’re done, you’re done. Put the snacks away. If you’re traveling by air, put your laptop and your iPod away, pull down the tray, and focus on your food, whatever it is. If it’s a road trip and you want to minimize stopping time, plan ahead by having nutritious food and snacks packed, and pull over to the side of the road to eat. It’s still faster than going through a drive-thru.

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April 26, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , ,

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