Saturday, April 28, 2012

Traveling and Nutrition

Just got back from my quarterly trip to China. Over the years, I've gotten packing for this trip down to a science. I have a packing checklist and found that the little comforts of home really help me feel comfortable and relaxed when I'm halfway around the world - or even traveling domestically.

On the personal grooming side - I don't rely on any of the hotel supplied stuff. I bring all my usual daily needs like my favorite sunscreen, shampoo, soap, face moisturizer (don't laugh - when you are active, taking showers can really dry out your skin. I'd rather not look my age thank you very much).

I also generally bring great books to read, my iPod with a ton of podcasts and music, my massage stick (luckily I've never had to explain it to China customs), and of course all my running and now swimming stuff (more on that in a later post).

One of the KEY things is to bring a collection of nutrition. Restaurant food while traveling is like nutritional roulette - you don't know how they made it. In addition - restaurants (both here and abroad), don't even come close to the way we cook at home with regard to veggie content, proper oils, good fats, etc.
While you can't cover every meal - I've at least got breakfast, snacks and of course my exercise food covered. This is important to me, because my stomach is especially sensitive in the mornings.

The above is a picture early in the week of my 'stash'. I've labeled since most of it is unrecognizable in the baggies. Again - happily, customs has never inspected my luggage. The exercise supplements (some are fine white powders) would be most difficult to explain :-)

Most of this stuff is from the Whole Foods bulk bins:

  • Almonds - raw with no additives
  • Dark Chocolate Nut Mix - my weakness snack
  • Pumpkin Spice Granola (actually weaning myself off of it - it's yummy, but a little sugary
  • Instant plain oatmeal - Quaker Oats
  • Special Oatmeal Mix - my own concoction of crushed walnuts, pecans, raisins, sliced almonds and a dash of brown sugar (to be replaced next time by a bottle of Agave nectar).
  • Dried mango
  • Dried, unsweetened banana chips (another great snack)
  • Ground flax seed
  • Coconut (unsweetened, desiccated)
  • Sports Food (Sustain Energy, Ultragen Recovery, various bars, electrolyte tabs and Gu packets)

My standard breakfast is the oatmeal, special mix, flax seed, coconut and some granola. I eat this probably every morning. It fills me up until lunch time. I use hot water from the hot pot in the hotel, but I'm going to bring almond milk next time. The water based oatmeal is a little bland.

Once a week I'll hit McDonalds in the morning for an Egg McMuffin (the nutritional content of that one is actually not terrible - at least by fast food standards). It breaks up the week a bit and I do it after my hard morning run on Thursday - so it's a nice treat.

Then it's just controlling portion sizes and selections when I'm at lunch or dinner. End result is that I feel much better on my travels now - and come back not feeling like I've been in a nutritional starvation cave for the past week.

And the added bonus is that it makes my time away feel a bit more like my normal life.

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