Eating on the road is far more challenging than trying to figure out how to attack the 2-3 zone. Especially when you are a health conscious vegetarian.
My goal with this post is to highlight the possibilities of how you can eat healthy while travelling as a coach.
Since I will be spending a lot of time on the road over the coming year, and because it always seems to be a topic of interest for people I encounter at gyms, camps and clinics on the road, I figured it would be worthy of a few words.
First off, I am blessed to be married to a health conscious woman who is constantly learning and educating others on living healthy lifestyles. She will be assisting me with this post, as she is the authority. Jen Oliver, my wife, is the founder of FitMama Global. Her background is in Kinesiology, personal training and coaching and she has studied nutrition at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition.
As coaches, we always want to know the why and she will provide it in support of what I am trying to do.
Why Bother Eating Healthy?
Healthy eating is important for athletes because
- Reduce Risk of Chronic Disease
- Fuel Your Performance
- Improve Skin and Bone Health
- Maintain Energy
- Develop a Healthy Relationship with Food
It makes sense that athletes can improve their performance by eating healthy but does the same logic apply to a coach? Yes, of course it does. All those benefits that apply to players, apply to coaches as well. Eating healthy is also excellent modelling by a coach. By modelling a behavior you would like your players to imitate you are contributing to their positive relationship with food. Whether a coach is alone on the road, or at a restaurant eating with a team, their food choices can be impactful.
There is no cheating, only choosing.
One of the most important perspectives I have learned through my time with @lovefitmama is whatever you choose to eat, it is a choice. Leave the guilt behind. If you choose to eat unhealthy food, then that was a choice. Using words like cheating, bad or guilty implies negativity, which eating is not. You have a choice, and when you make it, own it. Coaches ask for discipline from their players, and I know we are all capable of it ourselves.
Dangers lie in most beverages.
Pop is self explanatory, pure sugar, which is garbage for your body. Basically nothing good comes from drinking pop. Juice, energy drinks, etc are just as bad. And keep an eye out for “diet” drinks, which make you think they are healthy but are just loaded with chemicals.
Fast food is toxic and causes dis-ease in the body.
I like convenience. I like fast. Usually I just want to get back to my room at the end of a day on the road and relax. Despite that, I really try and avoid any drive thru options, as they are fried, processed junk that the body doesn’t derive any energy or sustenance from.
Just because it is free does not mean you have to eat it.
The hotel breakfast bar buffet is a great example of the dangers of free food. There are a lot of good, solid choices but more often poor ones, which will drain your energy and require way too much effort to digest. You are likely to get a sugar high and a following crash and it will leave you running on empty.
- Visit the grocery store. Stock up on nutritious foods so you are less likely to get stuck and need fast food. Ask hotels for a fridge if there isn’t one in your room.
- Drink water. Only. If not water then coconut water is the best hydration choice.
- Eat “clean” foods, which means unprocessed, real, whole foods that are still in a similar state to how they originally grew. This means avoid as much as possible foods with labels. i.e. all processed foods.
- Supplement with chia seeds and hemp hearts. These can be found at almost all grocery and health food stores. They can be added easily to yogurt, oatmeal, cereal, smoothies, soups and salads to make what you are eating more nutritionally beneficial.
- Personally I try and avoid bread as much as possible because it is a processed food with refined flours and often many ingredients, like sugar, added.
My Typical Meal Plan on the Road
- 6:00 am – Green Tea, Hard Boiled Eggs, Walnuts, Prunes and Apricots. Coffee, black or with cream only (organic if I can find it).
- 8:00 am – Oatmeal or yogurt with added chia or hemp seeds, topped with berries and raw nuts if available. If hungry still a banana or Apple.
- 12:00 pm – Protein Bar (look for ones with ingredients you understand, such as Lara Bars or Kind Bars, as they have real whole foods in them, plus usually an Apple and a Banana
- 4:30 pm – Chipotle Vegetarian Bowl with beans, vegetables, guacamole and salsa.
- 7:00 pm – Popcorn, raw Nuts or Vegetables (Carrot sticks, , cauliflower, cucumbers, broccoli etc from grocery store pre-cut).
- Throughout the day: coconut water (2 cups) and usually about 5 litres of water