I travel a lot. In fact, I seem to be living out of a suitcase at least one day a week. My road trips involve staying in many different hotels. Fortunately with all my camping-away-from-home experience I have a fairly good system in place when it comes to maintaining a healthy eating schedule. Breakfast for me is the most important meal as it sets the stage for the rest of my day, energy and mood wise. However, when my husband and I travel together my dear-to-me regime has a tendency to all go out the window. Why you ask? Because my husband LOVES the free breakfasts that are offered at hotels. He gets all giddy and excited about the money he is saving. Budget-wise it seems like a great idea but health-wise not so much. Here are three reasons why.
- Everything warm is pre-made, re-heated and processed. These mini-breakfast buffets offer warm food such as potatoes, eggs and sausages which is why it seems like a great deal. However, the food offered is not real food at all. The eggs are most often scrambled. You may notice they look and taste different than the scrambled eggs you eat at home. The reason for that is they are made from powder not real eggs. The sausage is usually tasteless due to the fillers that are used in making them. I bet it would take months for them to go bad. The potatoes are not much different than the frozen French fries you can find in your grocer’s freezer. These items are not really foods but food-like products. They offer no nutritional value, taste and health benefits. Instead of forcing yourself to choke it down (because it’s free), let’s move along from the warm food and see what else is available.
- White, white and more white flour products. If you are a carb addict this is your heaven. However, if you are a diabetic this is your hell. Half the breakfast counter is full of refined flour products: pastries, muffins, biscuits, bread, bagels and make-your-own waffles or pancakes. I try to find something made of whole-grain flour and see some slices of bread. After taking a closer look I wonder if it is really whole-wheat or just made darker to appear whole-wheat (one of the tricks of the food industry). During the refining process of flour most of the wheat is extracted of its crucial nutrients. White flour products are usually devoid of fibre which causes blood levels to rise quickly replicating the effects of white sugar. Also most of these white flour baked goods have added sugar making these breakfast “foods” more like desserts. The waffles and pancakes are made from mixes which include refined white flour. Now let’s add a little syrup and you have a sugar crash in your very near future.
- High sugar products. It is extremely hard if not impossible to find something with no or little sugar in it. There is juice, sugary cereal, instant flavoured oatmeal, pastries, even the yogurt has 17 grams of sugar in it! If we had the ability to add up every teaspoon of sugar that we racked up on our tray from these hotel breakfasts it would probably make our mouths drop. I often see little children filling up their plates and being encouraged to do so to save a little money. Children already consume too much sugar a day. Starting their day on a sugar overload may have them climbing the walls. Don’t be surprised if they are hungry again in a couple hours as the sugar crash hits them pretty hard. And what do they usually ask for? More sugar. We are setting them up for a pretty miserable state which may be why your family trip is not as harmonious as you hoped it would be.
Knowing what I may be faced with when my husband and I decide to take a trip I start researching hotels. My husband’s focus is on expenditures and mine is on the availability of good food so if we can combine the two then it’s happiness for both of us. I look for a hotel that either has a restaurant in it or nearby that has a good menu with reasonable prices. For longer trips that involve the whole family I look for hotels or condos with kitchen suites so we can bring and make our own food. Eating a good breakfast with protein, healthy fats and fibre will sustain your satiety longer keeping your mood and energy up. So the lesson here is that free when it comes to food usually comes with a price to your health. But if you still feel the need for something free, I suggest you grab the free fruit in the hotel lobby on your way out.