Whether you’re planning a short trip away or a long, overseas adventure, eating well while travelling is difficult for most people. So, when you’re an athlete, it can feel almost impossible to meet all your nutritional needs while on the road.
The good news is that, with a little preparation, you won’t have to worry about eating a diet that consists of nothing but fast-food and service station snacks. Regardless of if you’re travelling to a competition or simply exploring the world, your health doesn’t have to suffer along the way.
Here are our top 5 nutrition tips for the travelling athlete…
- Be prepared for your flight
This might seem like a no-brainer, but packing the right food to last you a whole flight or lay-over can be tricky. Airplane meals aren’t always the most nutritious, so when flying you should always check what you’ll be served before boarding the plane. Asking for a vegetarian or vegan meal can often be the healthier option, as these choices usually offer more vegetables and minimally processed starches such as rice and pasta, while also containing less sodium than your average meat-dish.
Chances are that the airplane food simply won’t cut it. So, make sure you bring healthy, filling and convenient snacks such as nut bars, fruit, unsalted nuts and even a home packed meal in small Tupperware containers.
- Take care of your digestion
Flying, long trips in the car and travel-related stress can all take their toll on your digestive system. As an athlete, your body won’t be used to extended periods of rest, and you might find that you are bloated, constipated and maybe even a bit nauseous as a result. This can be especially problematic if you’re travelling to a competition, as poor digestion can seriously impact your performance.
To help keep your digestive system running normally, it’s important to stay hydrated and maintain as usual diet you possibly can whilst travelling. Try to be mindful of what your body needs and make sure you’re giving it the sustenance it requires to function as normal.
- Do your research
When you’re in a new country or city, it can feel overwhelming and often stressful to find restaurants or shops that offer the right food for your needs. This is why it’s so important to do your research on what options are available before you actually get there.
A quick Google search can often help you find eateries that serve healthy food close to you. We even suggest contacting your accommodation and finding out what meal options they offer for guests, as this can be a convenient for planning your pre-comp meals. Planning is especially worthwhile if you’re travelling with a group of people who have different dietary needs and tastes, as it will ensure you don’t get caught out eating somewhere that doesn’t work for your needs.
- Eat and drink mindfully
With all that talk of planning aside, when you’re travelling there are many opportunities to eat, drink and enjoy the new culture or environment you’re in. In fact, in many parts of the world, the local cuisine is considered a huge part of the travel experience.
Staying mindful of what you’re eating and how it will affect your health and performance can be tough, especially when you’re travelling for leisure. The good news is that you don’t have to strictly stick to your competition diet in order to keep your body and mind in check. Indulging in a delicious meal every now and then while maintaining a diet high in fibre, nutritionally-dense foods and keeping up your hydration levels will ensure you get to have you cake and eat it too (literally).
- Bring all the essentials with you
The better prepared you are when travelling, the easier it will be to eat healthy and feel your best. It’s a great idea to pack or invest in an insulated cooler bag once you are at your destination, as this will allow you to keep food such as fruit, fresh produce and pre-prepared meals cool and fresh on car rides. A decent sized drink bottle is also a must-have, so you can fill it up whenever you get the chance. And lastly, take with you any supplements or protein powders that you use while at home to maintain your routine and prevent any unknown contaminants entering your system.
Sunshine Coast Dietetics offers state of the art sports nutrition services to athletes throughout Queensland. Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we can help you achieve optimal health and wellness.