Business travel is a demanding business and it’s easy enough to skip meals and find yourself needing a quick top-up.
Oh-so-handy snacks are everywhere – crisps from the vending machine at the airport, chocolate from the minibar, energy drinks from the service station, a cheeky stop along the way at a convenient fast food outlet. The snacks that are the easiest to buy are often the hardest on your body, leaving you feeling sluggish.
However, holding out until the next square meal is not an option. Unless you’ve got a repertoire of jokes about loud tummy grumbles to use at your next meeting.
The ideal snack to take on the road? One that provides slow-burning energy and high nutrient density, to help body and brain function at their best. Armed with a few nutritious (and portable) snacks, junk food vs starvation is a dilemma you need not face next time you travel.
Beef jerky: As well as providing you with a high-quality type of protein your body finds easiest to use, jerky gives you iron and zinc – iron to avoid excess fatigue, and zinc to support your immune function. You can buy it in supermarkets or at airport duty-free stores, or make your own in the oven.
Pumpkin seeds: You might already know that seeds provide vital fibre, protein and nutritious fats. What you might not realise is the value of the minerals pumpkin seeds provide, such as manganese, phosphorous, copper and magnesium. For example, the health of your bones, skin, blood sugar, and red blood cells depends on these minerals. For extra flavour, take two minutes to toast seeds in the frypan at home with some Chinese five-spice.
Apple slices and peanut butter: Technically made from legumes, not nuts, natural peanut butter contains about 30 per cent protein. And another 40 per cent is made up of healthy monounsaturated fats, the type emphasised in the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet. Bring a small container of peanut butter from home (or snaffle it from the breakfast buffet) and grab an apple from any supermarket or corner store for a tasty and healthy dipping combo.
Fruit salad: Even better than eating an apple a day, is eating a rainbow every day. Different coloured fruits contain different antioxidants and other nutrients, and scoring a variety of fruits ensures we don’t miss any. We need antioxidants to scavenge and neutralise free radicals. These are the unstable chemicals in our body linked to a host of diseases, including heart disease and cancers. You can grab a fruit salad from cafés, juice bars, supermarkets and even service stations.
Nut-based muesli bars: The ‘good’ bugs living in your gut, increasingly implicated in all aspects of health, thrive on the high fibre content that nuts deliver. Plus, several studies show an association between regular consumption of nuts and cognitive performance. For a healthy body and brain, walk past the chocolate bars at the airport newsagent and look for a honey-covered macadamia or almond bar.
Protein or 'bliss' balls: Merging the nutritional powerhouses of nuts, dried fruit and whole grains such as oats, protein balls ans the popular Bliss Balls are the epitome of a nutrient-dense snack. They’re easy to carry and readily available at many cafés and corner stores. You can also get organised and make a more nutritious batch at home. For example, mix quick oats, peanut butter and chocolate chips in a bowl; or blend dates, coconut, almonds and vanilla in a food processor, then roll into balls.
Something to drink
Water: Boring but true – water is the best drink. Keep a reusable water bottle topped up from safe sources to save buying plastic bottles.
Tea: Also recommended by dietitians, due to its high antioxidant content. Keep a selection of quality black and herbal teabags in your luggage for a healthy boost wherever you have a kettle.
Avoid: To keep your energy levels on an even keel, you can leave the sports drinks, soft drinks, milk drinks and iced teas where you found them. Even juice is not as healthy as it seems. If you’ve ever made fresh juice yourself, you’ll realise that it takes a lot of fruit to make one glass of juice. Would you really eat eight oranges in one go? Better to eat a whole orange and drink a glass of water.
Firing on all cylinders is much easier with quality fuel in the tank. Make strategic snacking part of your travel plans, and your well-fuelled body will thank you.