The Most Important Nutrient To Focus On For Work Travel

Melissa Halas, MA, RDN, CDE


Balancing work travel while sticking to your health goals is no easy ride.


For many of my clients, despite their best efforts, it was challenging to manage to perform their best when traveling. Until I shared this insight with them: traveling causes ... constipation. That's right! And that's something no one wants when traveling (or when not traveling!). That's why FIBER is the most important nutrient to focus on while traveling (actually it's crucial when not traveling too). With the tips below, you can perform and feel your best anywhere in the world by focusing on fiber.


To put simply, fiber helps keep you regular. It also delays gastric emptying—ultimately keeping you satisfied between meals. The Japanese have the expression: “Hara Hachi bu,” which roughly translates into “eating no more than 80% full. This philosophy is an effective way to avoid overeating. Use fiber to add volume to your meals, ultimately helping satisfy your stomach and mind!


It’s no surprise that getting enough fiber is tough when traveling. As a dietitian, I wish that I could wave my magic wand and add fiber-filled ingredients to restaurant meals across the world. Then, by default, people would also consume more essential nutrients—contributing to overall health. In fact, most fiber-rich foods are abundant in vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting phytonutrients, precisely what we need not only when traveling ... but also to be at our best each day! High


So, how can you get more fiber? Not sure where to begin? Use MyMenu to help you find high-fiber meals in your area with the click of a button. Don’t forget to add these meals to your “favorites” so you can enjoy the high-fiber meal next time. You can also look for the Phytonutrients icon on menu items which will signal that the meals are likely higher in fiber. Just be sure to drink enough water when adding all that fiber to your diet! Or, you may not be so regular after all!


How Much Fiber is needed?


Ways to Boost Fiber When Traveling


Easy Fiber Swaps

  • Choose a side salad or fruit salad in place of chips or fries.

  • Keep it close to nature! For example, choose grilled sweet potatoes over sweet potato fries, whole potatoes over hash browns, brown rice over white rice, and apples instead of apple sauce.

  • Substitute white bread for whole grain bread.

  • Skip the chips or pretzels. Instead, snack on ready-to-eat sugar snap peas, baby carrots, popcorn, baked apple chips, roasted nuts, kale chips, or roasted chickpeas.

  • Top a plant-based burger with tomato, lettuce, and avocado.

  • Pack airplane snacks such as trail mix, low-sugar granola bars, dried fruit, nut butter packets, or handheld fruit like apples or bananas.

Higher Fiber Choices When Dining Out

  • Skip the bread bowl and order a vegetable broth-based soup

  • Look for dishes that include lentils, beans, or whole grains like bulgur, buckwheat, quinoa

  • When ordering sushi, enjoy a couple of sides of edamame

  • At salad bars, add chickpeas, artichokes, corn, or lentils

  • Order an extra side of grilled, roasted, or steamed veggies with olive oil in place of butter

  • Step up your salad game by looking for high-fiber add-ons like a double order of roasted veggies or lentils

More About Fiber’s All-Around Benefits


You'll find the fiber in most plant-based foods. For decades, this nutrient has been considered one of the main contributors to good health. (1)


Adequate fiber lowers the risk of developing:

  • coronary heart disease and stroke

  • hypertension

  • diabetes

  • obesity

  • cancer

  • certain gastrointestinal diseases

  • gastro-esophageal reflux disease, duodenal ulcer, diverticulitis, constipation, and hemorrhoids

Fiber also helps support:

  • gastrointestinal health and regularity

  • immune function

  • metabolic health (1)

And now, fiber is being explored for its benefits to cognitive function. (2)


If you are a frequent traveler, it’s time to focus extra on fiber! Use MyMenu to help get you started! How do you plan to increase your fiber this week?


References:

  1. Anderson, James W, et al. “Health Benefits of Dietary Fiber.” Nutrition Reviews, vol. 67, no. 4, 2009, pp. 188–205., https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1753-4887.2009.00189.x.

  2. Berding, Kirsten, et al. “Going with the Grain: Fiber, Cognition, and the Microbiota-Gut-Brain-Axis.” Experimental Biology and Medicine, vol. 246, no. 7, 2021, pp. 796–811., https://doi.org/10.1177/1535370221995785.


Melissa Halas, MA, RDN, CDE, is CEO of SuperKids Nutrition and creator of the

Super Crew. She's a nationally recognized Registered Dietitian specializing in pediatrics, sports, and plant-based nutrition. Check out her books that promote plant-based eating for both children and adults, including The Plant-Based Boost, Nutrition Solutions for Athletes and Exercise Enthusiasts, The Plant-Based Boost Cookbook, 100+ Recipes for Athletes and Exercise Enthusiasts, The Super Crew’s Breakfast Cookbook for Kids, 50 Tasty Recipes + 100 Fun Nutrition Activities, and Healthy Eating for Families, The Ultimate Nutrition Guide for Kids, Parents, and Educators (in English and Spanish). Shop her books here.


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