Strategies to keep it slim while being busy and fabulous

One of my friends posted on the blog’s Facebook page and requested this topic:

Dear Trina Eats Plants, I love your blog and I have read every post. I am headed into a very busy period at work where I will be on call a lot and needing to eat on the go all the time- something I am not very good at! I know you travel a lot for work and I would love it if you could do a post on how you stay slim while traveling and keeping a busy work schedule. It seems like something very difficult to master that you have done so well!

My dear friend,

I work really hard at this and have been building up a list of tricks for a long time!  I am happy to share some of my methods with you.  Here are my top tricks for keeping it slim while working like a crazy woman and traveling on the regular:

Fight the bloat!

Bloat is quite possibly your worst enemy if you’re eating out a lot and / or eating a lot of frozen and prepared meals.  There are a few things you can do to cut the bloat.

  • While it’s hard to know how much sodium is in the food you’re eating while dining out, frozen meals lay it out for you. When eating frozen meals, take note of how much sodium is in these meals and use your best judgment.  Also, watch out for soups if you’re a frequent canned soup eater.
  • Find prepared food brands that you love and are health-conscious. The team here on my Austin project is obsessed with a place called Snap Kitchen where they have fresh, healthy, prepared meals you take and microwave – I often go on Mondays and stock up for the week (my friend Lauren loves them too).  I’ve heard of other people who like a similar place called My Fit Foods.
  • The other thing I’ve done in the past is on the day I arrive in a new city, I go to a Whole Foods (or similar type store) and stock up on healthy snacks and meals for the duration of the trip. If your hotel room doesn’t have a fridge, ask for one or clear out the mini bar and put your healthy stuff in there (do NOT clear out the bar if it’s one of those ones with sensors = $$$$).
  • When you are hungry in the afternoon or dying of hunger on a plane, snack on unsalted nuts rather than a salty treat. If you keep the portions under control, nuts are a great way stay full.  I am a big fan of the KIND bars which are readily available at airports and convenience stores.
  • Don’t eat Thai food or tacos every night. Okay, this one is very specific to me, but I have to tell myself this all the time!
  • Cut out the diet sodas. As much as I love the bubbles, there is extra sodium in there that won’t do you any favors.  My recommendation to fight the need for bubbles is to switch to sodium-free sparkling water.  My favorite brand is La Croix and I love both the lemon and lime flavors.
La Croix - Lemon Flavor

La Croix – Lemon Flavor

Be aware of your drink calories!

Trust me, this one is a big one and the calories quickly snowball.  It’s easy to cut back on your non-nutritive calories.

  • Wine and beer and booze have calories that add up! If you’re on the road or you’ve had a long day, it’s reasonable to have one of your favorite adult beverages in the evening.  The problem comes when you have drinks every night or several rounds – this will add up very quickly!  I try to reserve my beer for Thursdays when I’m at the airport because it always tastes better at the end of a crazy week!
  • Coffee drinks with cream/milk and sugar add up. I do plain green tea without sweetener or black coffee.
  • Juice on your flight and at your daily continental breakfast will also add up. It’s okay once in a while but realize that if you do it every day it becomes a lot of extra calories.  You might as well be drinking that glass of wine in the evening…

Keep breakfast light

Fast food breakfasts can quickly kill your day and steal all of your yummy lunch and dinner calories.

  • Prepare your green smoothie the night before. On my flight days, I make my green smoothie the night before so I can just drink it while I get ready early in the morning.
  • Substitute breakfast with a meal replacement shake. One of my friends loves Shakeology but you could also do a protein shake.  Pack the powder and a shaker container, find some water and you’re all set.
  • Go for instant oatmeal packets and some dried fruit and / or nuts that you can leave at the office. These are really handy to have around as most offices have a hot water tap by the coffee machines.
    • At hotel breakfasts I often do oatmeal but I always double-check to make sure it’s made with water and not milk.
  • If the hotel makes omelets, ask a lot of questions. Make sure they aren’t coating the pans with liquid butter (yes, it’s a thing) and then make sure none of the veggies are pre-cooked in butter (I’m looking at you, mushrooms). The omelet cook should have the non-stick spray which is not ideal, but better than liquid butter.

Get your veggies and greens!

Try to squeeze in as many servings of veggies as possible.  The more colors you eat, the better!

  • Start meals with a small salad of just greens and veggies. Have a low-calorie salad and opt for a non-dairy dressing (oil / vinegar based).  This way you fill up a bit with some healthy fiber and you get your greens in for the day.  While it will cost a few extra dollars, it’s worth it in terms of your health and waistline.
  • Grab a thing of veggies and hummus and snack on that. I buy cleaned and cut up celery and carrots from Whole Foods along with hummus and eat that in the afternoons.

Plan ahead

There are few little things you can do ahead of a busy / travel week to make life easier.

  • Prepare, chop, clean, etc. over the weekends. Clean your veggies, portion out your salads, freeze up some breakfast burritos – whatever it is, do it on the weekends when you have a few moments of peace.
  • Pack an empty water bottle. I hate spending so much on water at the airports, so I started bringing an aluminum bottle in my bag and filling it up while there.  Many airports have sensor-based fill stations (sometimes called “hydration stations”) which make filling your bottle very easy.
  • Pack a lunch! For the last month, I’ve been getting through security with a freezer insert in a small cooler bag.  I can’t explain why TSA hasn’t stopped me on either flight (I mean, it is MELTED on the way back so it’s a liquid…), but it’s been nice to arrive at the office on Mondays with a salad all of my own choosing!
  • Pack a snack. Have a bag of nuts or a KIND bar in your bag to help fight munchies so you don’t make a poor choice in a moment of hangriness!

Ease up on caffeine

This is a tough one, but your sleep is going to be impacted by your crazy schedule.  While you will be tired, overdoing caffeine can make you sleep even more poorly or not at all which leads to a terrible snowballing situation of increasing levels of caffeine and tiredness.

  • Keep your coffee intake down. Have one or two cups and stop drinking it after a certain time and stick to that rule.
  • Switch to tea! I’m a big fan of green teas as they have some caffeine but not too much.  For levels of caffeine in common drinks click here.

Take your supplements!

While a balanced diet doesn’t require a lot of extra supplements, when we’re busy and eating on the road a lot it’s important to take in a few critical vitamins.

  • B12 – Important for metabolism and is a critical vitamin for vegans.
  • Vitamin D – Important for busy people who don’t get enough sunlight (anyone who works inside, really).
  • Probiotic – Important when eating new / different foods or on an odd schedule. Gotta keep things moving to feel right!  I’ve had luck with Florajen 3 which can be purchased at Whole Foods or Walgreens.
  • Magnesium – This is a new one that I’m looking into, but I’ve been reading that it’s best to take this at bedtime and it can help people sleep more soundly. I don’t know too much about it, but I’ll take any help I can get here!

I shared a lot of my tips, and I hope these are helpful!  Let me know if any of you all have your own tips to share!



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