5 Lies Business Travellers Tell Themselves

And what can you REALLY do to stay healthy when you're travelling on business

Written by Theresa Albert

Last time you left on a business trip with the best intentions, did you come home feeling more tired, sicker (and, let’s be honest, fatter)? Next time, try making a more realistic plan and avoid the post-trip slump.

Here are five lies we tell ourselves and five more realistic goals to set for your business trip.

LIE #1 I will not open the mini bar.

Willpower has nothing to do with it. When you’re tired, you’re stressed. Eating reduces stress because it sends serotonin, the feel-good neurochemical, to the brain. Before you know it, you’ve consumed 400+ calories (as much as a reasonable meal) in the mostly useless form of chips and beer.

The better plan:

  • Tell the front desk clerk at check-in not to give you the key. You have courage and strength at this stage. You won’t by 10 p.m.
  • Pick up a bag of raw almonds (not roasted) or walnuts and a bottle of sparkling water at the airport or gift shop. Place it, enticingly, on ice in your room. Just knowing there’s something to nibble on when you’re watching CNN is a comfort.
  • Eat real and decent food throughout the day. Going to your room denied or hungry is as big a mistake as going with a belly full of steak frites.

LIE #2 I will consume a vegetable and hydrate at the same time by having tomato juice on the plane.

Somewhere, someone must have written that tomato juice is a good recovery drink during travel because people who wouldn’t normally drink it order it on the plane. Plane travel is dehydrating and a salty drink makes it worse. One small cup of tomato juice has 654 mg of sodium—almost half of your maximum for the day. Drinking on the plane, while fun, will only further dehydrate you.

The better plan:

Ask for water or a cup of sparkling water with an ounce of orange juice and a squeeze of lemon. A little bit of natural sugar and the potassium in the oranges will help balance your electrolytes.

LIE #3 I will go to the hotel gym.

You won’t. It’s even harder when you’re off your regular routine. Sleeping in the wrong bed, eating different food and sitting in meetings all day could mean you bring home more extra weight on you than in your luggage.

The better plan:

Download an app like City Walks or Map My Run that will direct you on walks wherever you are. Tech expert Amber Mac recommends Google’s slick app field trip with local history, architecture and restaurants. Each day you can find a 20-minute respite outside your hotel door. Another option: walk to and from your meeting and benefit from a clearer head for the effort.

LIE #4 I will skip breakfast to save time or I will eat something at the meeting.

Missing breakfast also creates a blood sugar and adrenaline spike that will only crash and make your brain foggy within hours. Eating something at the meeting is not much better. Chances are you will be drawn to the danish over the yogurt and fruit (if even available) or a muffin (cupcake imposter). Even if you do choose the best of the options available, it’s likely it will provide you with little protein and empty carbohydrates.

The better plan:

Travel with packages of unsweetened instant oatmeal and hemp seeds, ground almonds, or whey protein powder and chia seeds. Run hot water through the coffee maker and use it to cook this cholesterol-lowering, blood-sugar-setting mix before you even get to the meeting. Or, bring the mixture with you and mix into yogurt with fruit if you are sure they will be available.

LIE #5 Before dinner, I will stop at the bar for a cocktail and I will ignore the bowl of snacks.

There’s nothing wrong with having a glass of red wine to end the day (two even if you’re male, because more body and muscle mass means you can process more).

The issue is that 5-7 p.m. is the body’s hungriest time of day—not to mention the time when your levels of cortisol, the body’s stress hormone, are highest. One handful of salted nuts contains 70% of your fat for the day and 15% of your sodium. You know you’re going to have more than one handful, and any other snack mix is even worse because it contains mostly fried carbohydrates.

The better plan:

Say no to the snacks. Just hold up your hand when the nice server brings them over. Ask if they have a veggie and dip instead and pay for it—if not, you’ll end up paying for it in other ways.

Like anything, you need a plan before you get to the problem. Having a system and rules for yourself means you have a better chance to protect you from yourself. You can choose to follow them more often than break your own rules but going in without them is a mistake.

Want more healthy travel tips? Read: 5 Supplements to Pack in Your Carry-on Bag

Theresa Albert is private nutritionist who practices like no other in Toronto: she comes to you and creates systems in your life that work. In addition to being a media commentator on CTV Newschannel, CBC and Global she has two books published in Canada and the U.S.: Cook Once a Week, Eat Well Every Day and Ace Your Health, 52 Ways to Stack Your Deck.

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