Business travel, more so than vacations, tends to make healthy living quite challenging. Irregular hours, lack of sleep, late dinners with clients, early conferences – all challenge our schedules; while trays of unhealthy foods (high in sugars and fat) being strolled in make it difficult to eat well.

Even for the most disciplined eater, it’s not always easy to forgo on the array of “treats” that are comforting at the moment, help ease boredom, fatigue and the longing to be back at home. While very difficult to control this environment, it’s not impossible to control what YOU choose to put in your mouth. With my business clients in mind, I made a list of some do’s and don’ts to make business travel a bit more healthy and reduce the chances of food disasters.

Do’s:

Eat breakfast. Starting the day by fueling the body, will greatly reduce the chances of mid- morning snack attacks. Eat 3-5 small meals throughout the day.

Bring your own fruit/snacks to your meetings. A piece of fruit (apple, banana with a little almond butter) can stave of hunger, and a lust for something sweet without high caloric snacks. At Starbucks, I frequently buy their “protein” snack: it has apple, a little cheese, grapes, one hard boiled egg, and a small container of peanut butter. This is delicious and very filling.

Drink a lot of water (not sweet juices or carbonated drinks). Sometimes thirst can be mistaken for hunger.

Exercise! I know this may sound too hard to do, but starting your day at the hotel gym even for 30 minutes, will bring energy to your body and you will crave a healthier diet palette.  If you are a Yoga or Pilates or any other group class lover, research the area for some group classes. They are typically inexpensive and it is fun see new studios and try new fitness styles. Ask a co-worker to join you. You’d be surprised how many people would exercise during business travel but would rather not go alone!

Order a big salad FIRST (dressing on the side) to fill up and then you can have smaller portions of the other stuff. Check the menu of the restaurant you are going to beforehand and decide what you will have.

Don’ts:

Don’t think you need to eat everything that is being served. Danishes, bagels, croissants and muffins frequently served at meetings are bad for you loaded with fats, and calories.

Don’t drink excessively. Not only do alcoholic beverages hinder your sleep, will power to make good food choices, and are loaded with empty calories, but they are socially less appropriate in the work environment so certainly worth cutting down on!!!

Don’t eat late. Most business meeting dinners and not scheduled very late, but if they are, have a healthy snack beforehand and opt for an appetizer instead of a full meal.

Don’t use food for comfort. During breaks, get out for some fresh air and bring a book to read. Clear your mind and after a while you may not even feel like mindlessly snacking.

While we sometimes like to believe that business trips and challenging deadlines are “unusual circumstances” and the rules don’t apply; in fact it is more the case that long hours and irregular schedules are normal – so the “Do’s and Don’ts” you regularly practice will help you through these challenges.

Good energy and clear minded decisions are even more important when facing deadlines and demanding clients. Use the tips above to level up your game – you’ll be pleased with the results physically as well as professionally! So on your next “departure” be sure you choose to arrive at the destination you have in mind.