6 Ways to Stay Healthy While Traveling for Work

So you travel for work? So do I. In fact, I get on an airplane twice a week, every week. I know the NYC terminals like the back of my hand. I frequent so often that the barista at Starbucks is convinced that I work there. I change time zones on a weekly basis. I am a Management Consultant.

I came into consulting about a year ago as an experienced hire. As excited as I was about starting my new job, I was also completely worried about maintaining my healthy lifestyle. You eat out everyday? Networking events are key? Is there such thing as ‘The Consulting 15’? It took some trial and error, but here are 6 ways I’ve been able to maintain a healthy lifestyle while constantly traveling.

1. Be prepared. 

You know you are going to fly out Monday morning. You know the airport is lacking in healthy food options. You know the food options on the plane are even worse. So come prepared! Pack fruits, raw nuts, and even full meals (although make sure they meet the TSA liquids requirements). I always pack fruit and raw nuts with me as snacks. For fruits, I prefer apples. Apples do not require refrigeration, stay fresh in a ziplock bag (unlike bananas), and keep you full.  For nuts, I like packing raw, unsalted almonds or walnuts. Try packing a snack size of nuts in a ziplock bag to keep it to a snack portion.

If I have a long flight (which I often do), I pack a meal. I typically stop at Whole Foods or get some sort of salad to go.  I understand that not everyone has time to make a special trip to get a meal prior to flying- so don’t! You are going to go grocery shopping or going to get some kind of meal in the days prior to your travel. So why not double up? Stop by the salad bar during your grocery run at Whole Foods and save it for your flight. Add an extra bowl on your Ubereats order and bring it with you on the plane. You will be so much happier and relaxed knowing that you have healthy, delicious food with you and don’t have to stress about finding your next meal.

2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

Flying is incredibly dehydrating, so make sure you not only hydrate on the flight, but before your flight as well. I bring my Swell bottle with me everywhere that way I don’t have to purchase bottles of water. Fill it up before you board, and you’ll be good to go. And don’t forget to grab an aisle seat.

3. Do your homework

When you are traveling to a new location, do your homework. I spend an hour couple days before researching healthy restaurants. I check for Whole Foods or plant-based restaurants and eat organic ingredients whenever possible. That way when I arrive, I know exactly where to plug into Google maps and can avoid the stress of worrying about where to get my next meal. I do the same thing with exercise. I personally like taking megaformer Pilates classes, so I research local studios beforehand. If they are on classpass, even better!

4. Exercise in the morning

Work days can me unpredictable. If a workday is running longer than expected, you don’t want to stress about missing your evening Pilates class. Likewise, if your team is going out to dinner or happy hour, you don’t want to worry about missing your workout. Working out in the morning eliminates the stress of trying to squeeze a workout in later in the day.

5. Get into a routine  

Often work travel can be an excuse to eat out, have an extra glass of wine, and take a week off of exercising. But of those of us who travel often (or like me, travel every week), that is not sustainable. The most important thing I like to do when I travel is pretend that I’m at home. When I go to Whole Foods or the local juice bar, I try to purchase multiple meals at once. That way I have a hotel mini fridge full of healthy meals at hand and don’t have to spend excessive amounts of time driving to get every meal every night (which could cause you to skip out on the gym!). Most hotels have mini fridges in their rooms and if not, most will bring one to your room upon request. So take advantage of this and keep meals in your mini fridge so you can avoid the added stress of fetching every meal.

6. Eat like your at home

When I first started traveling for work, I would often go to healthy, plant-based restaurants for meals, but tack on a vegan brownie or peanut butter cup to my order. (Because if it’s made out of plants it’s healthy, right?). You wouldn’t be eating this way at home, so don’t do this while out. The extra calories will add up quickly. Try to stick to eating the amounts that you would normally eat if you were at home.

Happy traveling!

4 Watchouts for Eating at Vegan Restaurants

I’m not a vegan, but I lean towards the plant-based side of the spectrum. My favorite type of quick food places are raw vegan/ juice bar type places. When I first started consulting, I was disappointed to largely give up cooking, but then got over this quickly when I started researching all of the raw vegan juice bar esq places in my first city of work travel. 

I got into the daily routine of eating “healthy” vegan food for every meal. At first it was great. I was trying all new kinds of vegan meals, getting great recipe ideas to cook at home, and eating delicious plant-based sweets that would require me so much more effort for me to make at home. I was ecstatic, until I started not to feel well anymore. I started gaining weight. I felt super full but was still hungry at the same time. I was lethargic. I was off. I wanted to get back to feeling good so I knew I had to make a change. But I wasn’t quite sure where I went wrong? I was eating at the most seemingly healthy types of restaurants I knew. Shouldn’t I be feeling great? I took a step back and made a few observations at what I was eating. These learnings have helped me flag certain items on the menu and have enabled me to order more wisely:

1. Skip dessert

 When I first started traveling, I was ecsatic by all of the delicious, plant-based dessert options. I am obsessed with my homemade vegan cheesecakes, but the option of having healthy plant-based desserts readily available and such a wide variety of options was incredible. I found myself tacking on a vegan brownie or carrot cake muffin to my orders. They were made out of raw nuts, oats, dates, etc. so I didn’t sweat wondering if they were healthy. However, while all of the ingredients may be healthy, the quantities present are much more than you would normally consume. I was eating waayyyy too much fat. Nuts are great for you, but in small quantities because they are super high in fat and calorically dense. Dates, although a fruit, and very heavy and high in calories, so you do need to watch the amount you are consuming. And lastly, the sugar. These seemingly healthy desserts are loaded with sugar- maple syrup, honey, agave, coconut sugar, etc.- it doesn’t matter what type! Sugar is sugar. It all reacts the same in your body. If I was eating at home, I wouldn’t be eating vegan treats on a daily basis. These extra calories add up quickly, so it’s overall better to skip..

 2. Watch your grain consumption 

Grain bowls are a staple of several raw vegan places. I tend to skip the bread and overall avoid gluten, so quinoa bowls are a natural go-to for me. I know ketogenic diets are big right not, but I’m personally a fan of grains. However, not too much, a small portion of grains to add some filling to your salad is great, but the salad should be veggies by a large portion. I’ve noticed several vegan places really pile on the grains in their meals. Not only will this leave you feeling ill, but it also takes away the flavors of the produce in the salad! Grains are bland. I do not want my bowl to be primarily grains, I’d really prefer it to be primarily greens from both a health and taste perspective. In order to avoid a heavy dose of grains, I usually ask when I order for more greens than grains. If the portion is still off, I generally skip the grains if I order again. It is not worth feeling like crap afterwards.

 3. Watch your fat consumption

 As a stated above, vegan desserts are largely composed of nuts and thus, high in fat. Not only is this seen in desserts, but vegan entrees as well. Most meat and cheese substitutes are often nut-based. Depending on what you order, you could be eating really high amounts of fat. I love healthy fats- I mean avocados, come on. Healthy fats are a regular part of my diet. However, I’ve found that when I eat too much fat, I feel terrible. I feel super full and experience unwanted weight gain and the worst part is I’m gaining weight when I’m trying to be healthy! I’m sorry, but no. I will accept weight gain from a slice of pizza. I will accept weight gain from happy hour margaritas. I will not accept weight gain from a meat-less, cheese-less, salad bowl.

4. Focus on raw, plain, hydrating produce

Last, I’ve noticed that I often feel dehydrated after meals. When eating out, restaurants often incorporate far more salt into their meals than I would add on my own. Because of that, I try to focus on ordering dishes with raw, plain, and hydrating produce. Smoothies are a great option. Stick to smoothies made with fruits and veggies, often places have the option to build your own. Try to avoid the addition of fruit juices to smoothies- fruit juices strip the fruit of its natural fiber and just leaves behind sugar. Try instead subbing in cocounut water or an unsweetened nut milk. For bowls and salads, choose options that contain fresh produce. I tend to avoid sateed vegetables because it may contain excess sodium.

Reducing my Sweet Tooth

I have a HUGE sweet tooth, but recently I have been making a conscious effort to avoid added sugars to my foods. I haven’t gotten to 100% no added sugar to my diet, but I’m not quite sure that’s my goal. I try to avoid extremes because they mostly end up not being sustainable. My goal is to actively recognize an added sugar as an added sugar- whether it’s maple syrup, honey, coconut sugar, etc. it doesn’t matter what type it is. It doesn’t matter if it’s organic sugar.

Sugar is sugar.

And in addition to recognizing an added sugar, also avoiding them when possible. Not completely. It would legit make me sad to have my oat flour pancakes without maple syrup. Or overnight oats without a dash of coconut nectar. I’m not trying to go on a deprivation diet (I try to avoid extremes), but avoid the unnecessary dumping of sweeteners into my regular foods. And I have noticed a difference.

I can feel my cravings shifting from sweet to savory. I’m back on the west coast this week for my project. When I went to order breakfast this morning, I didn’t want my “regular” probiotic yogurt with berry compote (fruit and sugar), banana, and granola. It just seemed too sweet. I wanted something more savory. I ordered this delicious plant-based frittata bowl and felt completely satisfied. No sugar cravings to follow or feelings of deprivation.

Do you even know what you’re eating?

What are you eating? Do you even know what you’re eating? If you are an average 20-Something, chances are you probably aren’t aware of all of the ingredients you’re consuming on a daily basis. As 20-Somethings, we grab bagels to go on the way to work and to us, cooking typically means “order Seamless.” We eat bars that are seemingly healthy and wonder why we feel like crap. Food labels trick us into thinking we are eating healthy while we are unknowingly consuming crazy amounts of sugar, gluten, soy, sodium, and preservatives.

In the words of Mark Hyman, “if it has a label or a barcode, you should probably avoid it.” Don’t let healthily seeming food labels saying “all natural” trick you either. The ingredients list is the first place to look. I am all about eating organic. I love organic foods and make a huge effort to eat organic as often as possible. However, the ingredients list still needs to be checked. Even if the ingredient list is organic, organic sugar is still sugar.

Check  your food labels. If you’re grandma didn’t eat it, it’s probably not good for you. If the label contains an ingredient whose name you can’t pronounce, it’s probably not good for you. To put it simpler:

Eat Real Food.

By real food I mean fresh fruits and veggies, unprocessed grains, raw nuts, and high-quality meats. These foods are full of natural vitamins and minerals and promote healthy digestion and higher energy levels. These foods are delicious in the natural forms and are devoid of the added sugar, salt, and other ingredients that we do not need in our diet. I have dappled in several different ways of eating over the years- vegan, keto, etc. But eating real foods gets me feeling great every single time.

Now you might be thinking- eating real food isn’t practical, I mean I can’t readily carry salads with me for breakfast, lunch, dinner, plus snacks. Or you might be thinking, eating real food is so expensive, I can’t afford to do that. You know what else is expensive? Those bars that you pack in your bag that cost $3 each. It is possible to eat real food even if you’re constantly on the go or have to eat out. Take it from me, I spend 25% of my week on an airplane, in an uber, or driving a car.

I got this delicious salad out this week. Unfortunately, now that I travel every week, my cooking is restricted to only weekends. I’ve found what works for me is whenever I’m switching to a new client site, I research restaurants in the area so that I come prepared to make healthy food decisions. For this particular salad, I picked the “build your own” option. I like build your own because it allows you to chose exactly what you want in the bowl- and more importantly ask about each of the ingredients in the bowl. Yes, I’m THAT annoying person, if it is not a raw ingredient (let’s say sautéd spinach), I will ask exactly what it is sautéd in. Let me tell you, I have found that there is soy and sugar hidden in everything. This salad contains a healthy portion of leafy greens, zucchini, cooked veggies (as I’m trying to eat more ‘warm’ food), and an avocado and tahini dressing for some healthy fats. Tahini dressing is surprisingly easy to make on your own and delicious.

I will begin to share recipes of real food I like to cook. It doesn’t require the purchase of several ingredients and it doesn’t require a lot of effort. I’m also a firm believer that you can sauté almost any vegetable in garlic and oil and it will taste delicious, but maybe that’s just the Italian side of me!

Welcome to 20-Something wellness 👏👏

20-Something wellness is about being as well and healthy as possible while still enjoying 20-Something life. 20-Something wellness believes in eating organic and foods in the most natural and unprocessed forms possible. But it also believes in mimosas at brunch on Saturdays. While some regard this as a “cheat meal” they are usually referring to a singular drink or one slice of pizza. But we are 20-Somethings. We go to beer gardens and friend’s bbqs on summer Saturdays. 20-Something wellness isn’t about perfection, nor does it strive to be. So relax, you don’t have to torment yourself because you mistakenly ate a cashew as a nut vs. a legume on your Whole30 diet (trust me, been there). It’s about balance. It’s about feeling as good as possible, while still being able to enjoy time out with friends. It’s about wellness that is practical because who the hell has time (or honestly wants to spend it) to soak beans for 3 days to maintain a raw food diet? Or wants to cook recipes that require the purchase of 10+ ingredients (most of which I will probably never use again)?

20 something wellness isn’t just going to place restrictions, but also help share solutions. Because we are 20-Something’s and don’t all (except me) want to spend our time researching this. For example, a lot of us know that the types of makeup or cleaning supplies we are using have high toxicity levels, but what the hell is safe to use?

I’m not a nutrition expert. I am not a yoga instructor. I’m a management consultant who’s health and nutrition obsessed. I am a marathoner. I am a former varsity athlete. I am a 20-Something.

I really got interested in nutrition after college. A vacation to Europe inspired me to start cooking my meals from scratch and start eating real food. I spend most of my free time reading nutrition books and listening to nutrition and wellness podcasts. I also love cooking. I’m one of those people who loves farmers market and legit gets excited grocery shopping at Whole Foods.

I wanted to start this blog to share some of my learnings during my own health journey. There is so much information out there and so many food products, eating healthy can be completely confusing. I want to share some of the ways I’ve found to maintain as healthy of a lifestyle that I can while constantly traveling for work and still going out with friends. Hopefully this will help make someone else’s health journey a little bit easier.