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  1. #1
    Senior Member tony_merlino's Avatar
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    Portable travel foods on a diet

    This isn't directly related to cycling, though it is tangentially. I travel a fair amount for work, and as anyone who travels can tell you, it's really hard to find ways to stick to a diet when you're traveling. It's hard when you have to entertain customers at restaurants, but there are usually a couple of healthy choices on the menu, and if you're disciplined about carving out a reasonable portion before you start eating, you can manage.

    What are harder to manage are the solitary meals - the stuff you eat on the plane, or by yourself in the hotel room. I've been kind of lucky in the last 6 months, in that a lot of my trips were to the D.C. area, and I've been driving. That allows me to bring a cooler with my own food in it, and my diet can be basically the same on the road as it is at home. Even when I take the train, there aren't restrictions about fluids, etc to deal with, so it's easier to bring stuff.

    But flying is another story - weight and restrictions become issues. Airport food is horrendous from a dietary point of view, as are most fast options in the corporate jungles that I usually find myself in.

    I've been trying to come up with a repertoire of foods that I can carry that will allow me to stick to my diet (currently about 1200 calories/day, balanced at about 50/30/20 between carbohydrates, protein and fat, with about half the carbs coming from dietary fiber). The requirements are:

    - I should be able to package up foods in roughly 100 calorie increments, to put together meals of varying total calorie content.
    - No refrigeration required. The first night is easier than later nights - most cooked foods will tolerate a few hours of no refrigeration.
    - No violation of the fluid restrictions for airports
    - No cooking. Can, in some cases, benefit from warming up in a microwave. (A lot of hotels will supply the microwave.)
    - Tolerant of getting knocked around in a carry-on.
    - Not heavy or bulky.
    - Not really heavy on the sodium (that lets out a lot of convenience foods).

    I know - it sounds like I'm planning to provision a spaceship

    So far, the foods that have worked ok have been:

    - Individual boxes of organic raisins. (100 calories).
    - Raisin bran cerial, packed in snack bags in 1/2 cup increments (95 calories)
    - South Beach Diet Protein bars. (130 calories, 9 grams protein.)
    - Tuna, though this tends to be pretty high in sodium.
    - Apples
    - Fat free pre-wrapped cheese slices. (30 calories, 0 fat, 5 grams protein). High-ish sodium.
    - Microwavable individual servings of rice dishes. (About 220 calories).
    - bread in appropriate portions. (80 - 100) calories
    - Granola bars. (100 calories)

    Not an exciting diet, so I'm looking for additional suggestions. In the meantime, I keep repeating my mantra: Food is Fuel. Food is Fuel. Food is Fuel...
    L'asino di Buridano...

  2. #2
    SuperGimp TrojanHorse's Avatar
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    I don't know what you have out by you but I stated hitting grocery stores (or a Whole Foods market or something) and picking up meals there - they generally have some sort of baked chicken & veggies & stuff that did me pretty well.

    Hotel breakfast is usually OK with oatmeal and some fruit or something and I'd hit subway for lunch but yeah - when you start taking people out for meals it gets hard fast.

  3. #3
    Senior Member tony_merlino's Avatar
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    That's a good suggestion. Often, if I fly, I don't rent a car, so it's hard to get to supermarkets. But when I do rent a car, getting something prepared there is a good idea. Sushi is usually good, too.

    What do you do about in-flight meals? For the way out, I bring a sandwich that I make at home.
    L'asino di Buridano...

  4. #4
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    My $0.01 says it sounds like it's getting a tad overcomplicated.

    I personally find it easier to pick the solo meals, as I'm the only one making a decision and don't need/have restrictions/requirements regarding people I'm trying to entertain.

    For business trips, i just find my way to a local grocery store, a 10-15 min. trip to the fruits/greens section gets me all natural snacks I'd need for my stay. Most hotel rooms will have a mini fridge, if that the case, i can include those personal servings of yoghurt/parfait as part of the grocery list. Similar case if there's a microwave, those prepackaged meals could be an option as well (i don't like/eat them but i know quite a few people that swear by them so, just another option to consider).

    And that does it for me, i think it is more of a hassle to prepare/pack and transport food/meals than to spend 10-15 min shopping at a local grocery store.

    The only concerns I have are those days with long delays at airports, like connecting flights or going transcontinental. For those days, packaged cereal/protein bars work best for me.

    I do travel by plane often and TSA checkpoints are plain horrible. If pooling the average intelligence/common sense shown by TSA officers and comparing it to same average taken out of a zoo in any given day, the zoo will fare better. Point being, i will do my best effort to not carry anything that would give any TSA guy the slightest reason to even try to engage in conversation with me.

    Food, containers, etc are a point of conversation for those people so i restrict them to the minimum.

    For me, personally, the hardest part is to keep things in check while on long holidays abroad. Trying the local cuisine, prepared by a guy speaking a language i do not understand is just a big part of the joy of traveling. But i guess that is veering off the course of this thread.

    Curious about more opinions...

    AQ

  5. #5
    Climbers Apprentice vesteroid's Avatar
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    I travel a lot, and all by air.

    I have adapated to using places like subway for salads with meat, and most airports have plenty of the little grab a sandwich and go carts, where I can usually find turkey on wheat..and they are pretty good. I also carry lara bars. nuts and dried fruit (I Like costco brand), and I just get my water in the airport so no security (or on the plane).

    I eat more than you do, so I also will throw in mexican...say fajitas with no cheese and I just eat the meat and veggies, or depending on how many carbs I have had that day, I may eat the wraps.

    Chinese is good also, I have no issues with getting people to make me steamed chicken and broccoli...

    Star bucks has a few nice sandwiches as well.

    I pull the grocery store thing too, but only if I am in a town for say 2+ days..if its in one night out the next I dont bother

    I stay at either hiltons or hamptons so their breakfast is fine...I usually get some eggs with two slices of wheat toast and smother it in hot sauce

  6. #6
    Senior Member tony_merlino's Avatar
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    Another decent dinner option (for me) is Chipotle, if there's one nearby. The salad with the barbacoa pinto beans and tomato-based salsa is about 460 calories, which is in the right range for me. Don't use the vinaigrette that comes with the salad.

    Another option for eating out is Applebee's. They have half a page of "550 calorie or less" options on the menu, and I've tried almost all of them. Not bad.

    Thankfully, this 1200 calorie/day regimen will be over for me in less than a month. I'm finally just barely "normal" on the BMI charts, but I want to go about 10 lbs under that, which should be done in a month or so. Considering that I was 35 lbs into the "obese" range as of the beginning of the year, this has worked out pretty well.

    Now comes the hard part: Maintenance! A whole new set of challenges...
    L'asino di Buridano...

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