RISMEDIA, Nov. 13, 2007-(CNN)-Amid the rush and stress of business travel, nutrition is often pushed aside. While worrying about beating traffic, making flights, preparing for meetings and presentations, who has the time or the energy to think about eating healthfully?Planning ahead and making wise food choices can help business travelers eat healthfully on the road.
But traveling for business is not an excuse to needlessly indulge in sugar and fats, experts say. Trading in cheeseburgers for salads and potato chips for carrot sticks could help ease the strain of traveling and help dodge weight gain.
“It doesn’t feel good, first of all, to fly with a bunch of junk food in your stomach, or soda,” nutrition expert Susan Levin told CNN. “You want to stay as hydrated as possible, eat as much fiber as possible.”
Levin acknowledged that doing so isn’t always easy. Rather than depend on airport and roadside eateries, often laden with fast-food options, Levin advises travelers to plan ahead. Bring food with you, she says.
“Make sure you’re eating high-fiber foods, those are your plant foods, like fruits and vegetables, beans and grains,” Levin said. She said pita bread, nuts and dried fruits are other good choices and are easy to bring on flights. She also advised travelers to buy water once they’ve passed through security.
For business travelers who are driving, the choices become easier, Levin said. “You can pack a cooler, you can bring plenty of water,” she said. “Pull over into towns where there are grocery stores. … Get fresh produce, get vegetables, get a container of hummus [and] baked tortilla chips.”
Of course, eating healthfully en route is only half the battle. How does one avoid the pitfalls of restaurants’ choices during business dinners?
Healthful eating tips
• Plan ahead, bring food with you
• Drink plenty of water
• Choose grilled chicken, fish, meat
• Eat fresh fruits and vegetables
Fitness expert Brent Brinkmeier of Body Design said business travelers should avoid temptation by ordering without looking at the menu.
“If you’re used to eating grilled chicken and steamed vegetables, order grilled chicken and steamed vegetables,” Brinkmeier said.
If ordering custom meals seems too fussy and high maintenance, Levin advised travelers to embrace restaurants’ vegetarian options. Those are the high-fiber, low-fat, low-calorie meals, she said.
“If you are in a Mexican restaurant, choose a burrito with black beans and rice, and corn and tomatoes, and skip the cheese, skip the sour cream, skip the meat,” she said. “Then you have high-fiber, very low-fat, very filling meal.”
For American restaurants, Levin said baked potatoes or salads are good choices, as long as they are eaten in a relatively pure form. In other words, steer clear of cheese, heavy dressings and meat. “If you don’t get the cheese and oils, you’re more likely to get high-fiber, low-fat meals,” she said.
Even fast-food restaurants can have healthy choices, Brinkmeier said. “Something grilled, chicken is typically the best. A lot of restaurants now have salads, even fast food places,” he said.
CNN’s Carol Costello and CNN.com’s Taylor Gandossy contributed to this report.