Healthy Eating in Hotel Rooms
The harried nature of travel inevitably leads to unhealthy food choices. Nowhere is a bag-of-chips-for-dinner mentality more likely than in a hotel room after a full day of meetings, with only bad TV and a mini bar for company. A disrupted fitness schedule coupled with lunch buffets can cause energy loss, which also affects the ability to choose wisely.
"The biggest challenge is finding real, not processed, food," says Aimee Gallo, a San Diego- and Seattle-based sports nutritionist and holistic health coach. "Frequent travelers are often left asking, 'Where's my protein, where's my vegetable?' It gets too easy to throw in the towel and order a pizza."
To ensure healthy eating while out of town, you can spend hours researching the best local restaurants — provided you have the energy — or simply follow these tips for making the most of your hotel's room service offerings. A healthful meal in a hotel room might be less conventional than one you'd eat at home, but who's arguing if it helps you sleep soundly and waken in time for a run through the park?
Don't order willy-nilly
You might be exhausted now, but think how you'll feel after a plate of fettuccini Alfredo. Take five minutes to read the entire menu, including sides, and jot down the best options (including special requests) before you place the call.
Learn to love sides
Side dishes can be your best friend or worst enemy. Ignore the fried onion rings and build a meal of sautéed vegetables, tomato soup, baked potato and spinach salad. Beware of appetizers: Three beef sliders look small, but probably have more calories and fat than a single cheeseburger.
Have breakfast for dinner
There's a reason breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and breakfast items are among the most satisfying and delicious. Granola with yogurt, an omelet with whole-wheat toast, or even a toasted bagel with lox are significantly healthier options than a Philly cheese steak, and they will satisfy your hunger. Lunch options — a turkey club or chicken breast sandwich, for instance — are usually healthier than dinner entrees, and just as filling, too.
Making smart food choices in the evening requires staying healthy throughout the day, Gallo says. Drinking lots of water plays a big role in helping to keep your body and mind alert, so bring your own bottle when you travel, keep it filled and drink a lot.
Fresh and dried fruit travel well, as do nuts, energy bars and granola. Bring your own stash of snacks so you don't fall into temptation at the snack bar.
Raid the snack bar
If worse comes to worst, look for protein at your hotel's snack bar. A few sticks of jerky, a jar of peanuts and a protein-based energy bar might not be a rounded meal, but they beat gorging on a 3-pound beef-and-bean burrito. (You'll thank us at 3 a.m.)
Cross your fingers
Even the most economical hotels recognize that the way to travelers' hearts (and wallets) is through their stomachs, so they typically offer one or two vegetarian or healthy room service options. But be cautious of "healthy" three-cheese quesadillas or taco salads. They're not.