We all know how hard it is to eat healthy while away from home and, let me tell you, attempting to eat healthy in China was INTENSE!!
Firstly, you have a language barrier. Unlike many other countries I have visited, very few people in China speak English.
Next, there are cultural barriers. I quickly learned that "diets" don't really exist in China. No one is going around saying "I'm a vegan" or "I'm doing keto at the moment" they all seem to eat EVERYTHING and every dish is drenched in oil.
Tasty? Yes! Healthy? NO!
Even with an interpreter, it can be very difficult to get your point across.
Because of these challenges, I actually ended up changing my diet while in Yiwu. After the first day, I realized that the low-fat bodybuilder diet I had been following for years was simply not possible.
We were on a two-week business trip with no access to grocery stores or a kitchen and our interpreters were only with us from 9-5 (essentially lunch). If we couldn't even make the dining staff understand that we wanted cold water (not boiling, which is the way traditional Chinese people drink it) then there was NO WAY we could communicate "don't cook with oil".
My solution was to temporarily do a 180 and focus on a keto diet instead. It's a lot easier to avoid rice and noodles then oil, and eating EITHER carbs or fats is infinitely better for the waistline than eating BOTH.
Luckily, I travel a lot and China has been, by far, the most challenging place I have visited (although I'm sure there are other places which could give China a run for its money!)
In general, my top tips for traveling healthy are:
1. Relax the Cax!!
Uhh really? Yes! I'm not saying just give up. I would never advocate drinking your weight in beer and living off junk. That said, when you are in a position of no control, try your best and don't sweat the small stuff.
My eating plan suffers every time I go away. In China, I did keto for two weeks and at least 5 days out of 12 were cheat days. Between traveling and eating dinners in peoples homes, it was unavoidable.
Even with the diet change and all those cheats I still only gained 3lbs. Just smile, enjoy the experience and pick up where you left off when you return home.
2. Mini Fridge is KEY
Always try to stay somewhere with a kitchen or ask the hotel to add a mini fridge to your room.
I once lived at the Commerce hotel in LA for a month during the LAPC. My client was a professional poker player with numerous health problems and he needed someone on call to massage him, stretch him and remind him to eat.
I brought my blend tech with me and made us both smoothies daily. Mine consisted of raw egg whites (for protein), protein powder, spinach and stevia. These smoothies helped fill me up and allowed me to easily reach my 20 gm of animal protein post workout.
In my downtime, I exercised in the hotel gym and went grocery shopping to keep our mini fridge stocked with salad makings and healthy snacks.
I made almost all of our food and gained 0 lbs in four weeks.
3. Fill Up on Fruit
While in Costa Rica protein was in short supply. I am very picky about what proteins I will and won't eat. Fish grosses me out, I love shellfish but it contains too much cholesterol for a bikini diet, and I refuse to eat factory farmed, inhumane meat, dairy or eggs.
I was hoping for a lovely, fresh vegetarian/ vegan diet rich in beans and brown rice, but unfortunately, the chef had been instructed to make American staples such as pasta and pancakes (at a yoga retreat!!).
Luckily there were usually fresh vegetables at lunch and dinner and there was a fridge in the room plus a small convenience store nearby.
I used the opportunity to enjoy fresh, healthy exotic fruits (such as papaya). There was no gym in the vicinity so the temporary lack of protein wasn't a problem and instead of lifting I began taking 2-3 hr hikes, exploring the area and burning off excess carbs.
Although initially, I thought I must have gained about 5lbs, it turned out to just be fruit bloating and I was back to my normal size within a day or two of returning home.
4. Bring Snacks!
I always travel with a suitcase filled with my favorite protein bars. protein powders, baby food pouches, and other assorted healthy snacks.
Often healthy snacks are not available on the road and it's best to always be prepared!!
5. Up Your Exercise
I firmly believe that I don't gain weight while away because I maximize my exercise.
Vacations are the perfect time to walk, hike, jog, whatever you do to get the metabolism up
If I'm working and time is short I do 1-2 15 min home workouts or an intense gym session to keep my body going.
Really the key, as with anything, is determination. Go into a holiday or new adventure with the conviction that you WILL NOT allow all your hard work to go to waste. Then be ready to adapt as necessary and recoup any lost ground when you return home.
It's not always easy but if I can successfully travel and maintain a bikini body then so can you!
Feel free to post any questions or comments.
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