Being a performer often means being on the road. When your life is jumping between shows and traveling to new areas for gigs, it can be hard to maintain a routine, especially when it comes to healthy eating.
It can be tempting to stop at fast food joints or convenience stores in a pinch. Even though it’s convenient, dining out often can be hard on your waistline — and your wallet. But with some planning, you can make nutritious and budget-friendly food choices when you’re on the road. Try these tips:
1. Stop at grocery stores.
In many cases, grocery stores will have a larger selection of healthy options than convenience stores. Plus, buying foods in larger quantities is often cheaper than purchasing single servings. Stock up on fruits, like apples and oranges; easy-to-eat veggies, such as cucumbers and bell peppers; whole grain crackers; popcorn and nuts. You can often cut costs by choosing private label foods (the store’s brand) instead of brand name items.
2. Ask for a mini-fridge and a microwave.
One of the biggest hurdles to eating healthy and sticking to your budget when traveling is being away from your own kitchen. If you’re staying in a hotel, choose a room with a kitchenette. Or request a mini-fridge, microwave and coffee maker, and bring your own can opener. Keep perishable foods, like low-fat yogurt, fruits and vegetables, in the fridge. Use the microwave to heat up a quick, budget-friendly dinner of brown rice (buy the microwavable bags) and canned black beans (rinse the beans first to remove excess salt). Serve with a green salad for a complete meal. Use the coffee maker to heat up water and add it to a low-sugar variety of instant oatmeal for breakfast. If these appliances aren’t in your room, ask if there’s a microwave in the lobby you can use.
3. Keep healthy snacks on you.
Having nutritious foods within reach can help prevent you from getting ravenous and making unhealthy choices. Make single-sized portions of healthy snacks, like nuts or low-sugar, whole grain cereals. Then store them in your backpack, purse or car. Other portable and affordable snacks include peanut butter on whole wheat bread, low-fat string cheese, baby carrots, bananas and canned tuna.
4. Opt for water.
Choose water over alcohol and soft drinks. Staying hydrated can keep your energy levels up for your performances. Other beverages, including alcohol, sports drinks and energy drinks, provide calories with little to no nutritional value. Water is not only a must for good health, but it’s often available free of charge. Drink it over other beverages to keep money in your pocket. It’s also common to mistake thirst for hunger, so drink water first when you feel hungry.
5. Make wise choices when dining out.
No matter how well you plan ahead, there will likely be times when you need to stop for fast food or grab a dinner out after a performance. At the drive-through, order salads with vinaigrette-based dressings, go for broth-based soups, choose grilled meats over fried ones and ask for fruit instead of fries. At restaurants, keep in mind that many meals are more than one serving. So, split a meal with a friend to save calories and money.
Some savvy habits can help entertainers stick with healthy eating habits while traveling. Shop at grocery stores, prep your own meals and snacks, drink plenty of water and read menus carefully.
Amy Magill is a registered dietitian who enjoys sharing healthy eating tips for home and on the road. She is a writer and Manager of Clinical Programs for Walgreens. You can find vitamins to supplement a healthy lifestyle by visiting Walgreens.com.