The Feel Fantastic Formula for Speakers on the Road
By Maye Musk MS MS RD
As speakers, we motivate people to make changes. As role models, we need to look healthy and vital. In order to achieve this image, we have to control our eating habits and remain active despite often grueling travel schedules.
It’s a struggle to eat well and be active on the road. Delayed planes, holdovers, lost hotel reservations, boredom, fatigue, frustration, and stress can thwart our carefully planned eating and exercise goals. All this and we’re expected to ignore the wonderful, delicious foods thrust at us at banquets and luncheons. So what can we do to feel fantastic on a hectic schedule? Let’s find out:
1. In the Air
The key to success is planning and moderation. If you travel first class, you’ll be tempted to overindulge as you are offered alcohol, snacks, heavy meals and decadent desserts. By the time you land, you are full, tired and are asking yourself “Why did I do that?” Too much food and rich food will drain your energy. Drink less alcohol, eat smaller portions and choose lower fat foods to maximize your vitality.
If you travel coach, even though everyone complains about the food, most still eat it because it’s there. Airplane meals are not necessarily low fat and the occasional high fat meal need not concern you. For frequent flyers, again eat small portions or order a special meal 24 - 48 hours in advance, such as low-fat, low-calorie, or fruit platter options. Remember, vegetarian doesn’t necessarily mean low fat.
2. Cure Jet Lag
If flying east on an overnight flight, try to sleep on the plane. Eating only high-carbohydrate foods (bread, rice, pastas, fruit and vegetables) before and after boarding should help you get some zzz’s. Carbohydrates stimulate release of sleep-inducing chemicals (neurotransmitters such as serotonin). Upon arrival, eat a protein-rich meal (meat, poultry, fish, cheese and egg), because protein stimulates release of other chemicals (such as norepinephrin) that promote alertness and wakefulness. Add coffee or tea for that extra perk.
For westward travel, reverse the protein-carbohydrate regimen. Eat protein-rich foods and coffee before and during your flight. Upon arrival, load up on high-carbohydrate foods and avoid caffeine --- unless, of course, you have to give a presentation when you arrive. In this case, drinking fluids can minimize jet lag. Drink one glass of water every hour and on trips over six hours, avoid alcohol and salty foods that dehydrate, such as nuts, pretzels and tomato juice.
3. Eating on the Road
Once again, the key to success is planning and moderation. Never let yourself become too hungry. If you are famished, you’ll put any food into your mouth as quickly as possible. Keep nutritious snacks such as whole-wheat crackers or fruit in your hotel room, briefcase or purse for emergencies. When I arrive at a hotel, I’ll help myself to an apple from the reception desk, order a whole-wheat roll and fruit from room service, or run to a store for yogurt and fruit. Have a snack before you go out to eat so you can take your time and decide what you really feel like eating otherwise you’ll finish the breadbasket before you’ve ordered your meal!
4. Keep the Energy Level High
Restaurant portions are often large. Ask for smaller portions or share a serving with a companion. When I’m traveling, I like to order a light meal such as a spinach salad with goat cheese and dressing on the side, a glass of wine if I don’t need to be alert, a roll without butter, and coffee (decaffeinated if in the evening) with milk. Although goat cheese is high in fat, I love the taste and the portion is small. I don’t deprive myself and I don’t expect my clients to either. If the restaurant has one of my favorite desserts, I’ll have it if someone will share it with me. Otherwise, I leave it.
What about buffets? Start by strolling around and checking out the entire buffet selection. Decide to fill your plate only once and choose low fat items. If something fattening tempts you, just take a taste - often one or two bites is all you need to satisfy a craving for a high-fat food. For dessert, try fresh fruit and a scoop of ice cream. What a picture! No regrets or guilt feelings. The next time you go to a buffet, go with a different attitude. Put yourself in this picture. It’s worth it.
Hotels now offer nutritious breakfasts consisting of bran-type cereals, low-fat milk, yogurt, boiled eggs, whole-wheat toast and fresh fruit - all good choices for keeping energy high. (Sausage, bacon, fried eggs and hashed browns will zap your energy.) For lunches and dinners, replace garlic bread with a whole-wheat roll, cream soup with a bouillon-based soup, a deluxe hamburger with a small hamburger, and fried chicken with a stir-fry. Ask that food be prepared fat-free and served with gravies and sauces on the side.
5. Eating for Health
Support and boost your immune system by eating plenty of whole grain foods, legumes, fresh fruits and vegetables. Besides essential fiber, these foods also contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which protect you from heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Just taking supplements won’t do it. For example, a carrot contains fiber, vitamins and 60 chemicals (called carotenoids) that contribute to your overall health. A supplement might only have one such chemical - beta-carotene. Besides a carrot tastes much better, and is more satisfying to eat! Order a salad, vegetable soup or steamed vegetables at every lunch and dinner. If you are unable to find a variety of foods on your trip, and insist on taking a multivitamin supplement, make sure it contains no more than 100 percent of the Recommended Dietary Allowances.
A vegetarian diet has to include more whole grains, beans, nuts, fruits and vegetables to get the same amount of nutrients as people who do eat meat, fish, chicken, milk and eggs. If you’re vegetarian, increase your plant consumption, but don’t replace meat with high-fat high-sugar foods such as doughnuts.
When choosing vegetables and fruits, look for color - the brighter the color, the more nutritious the food. For example, romaine lettuce has six times as much vitamin C, eight times as much beta-carotene and twice as much folacin (a B vitamin) as iceberg lettuce. And go for flavor. Evidence is mounting which supports the protective properties of garlic, thyme, oregano, celery, fennel, peppermint, flaxseed, ginger, nuts, licorice, basil, and hot chilies. Add them to your dishes.
6. Get enough rest
This can be a challenge for speakers with hectic schedules. Rest is essential for good health - especially for those of us on the road. Sleep deprivation can lead to raiding the hotel room refrigerator in search of instant energy. Instead, go for a walk, have a massage or manicure, take a nap, relax for ten minutes, order tea, or take a hot bath. If your energy is still low, have a healthful snack - a piece of fruit, a small salad, a whole-wheat roll. You will feel refreshed and ready to face the world again.
For instant, long-lasting energy, use every opportunity to be active. Use hotel gyms; stretch and do abdominal exercises in your room; walk the halls and stairs; or walk and explore the city. Feel the mood enhancing endorphins click in. The fresh air and exercise will help refuel your energy.
8. Don’t beat yourself up
One fat-full meal does not make or break a healthy lifestyle. Don’t feel guilty or let it upset you. The next day, resume your healthy routine. If you eat healthily 80 percent of the time, you will feel fantastic all of the time!
Saturday, January 9, 2010
Professional Speaker, September 1997
The Feel Fantastic Formula for Speakers on the Road