Planning and preparation for a healthy diet when travelling.
Travel is an unavoidable (and enjoyable) component of the life of a professional and semi professional golfer. However, I always find it interesting that many golfers do not place much (if any) emphasis on the hydration and nutritional considerations that travel requires. And for young golfers who may be new to playing away from home, it could be the first time they have had the responsibility to cook, shop and prepare their own meals and snacks. The following article highlights potential barriers to maintaining optimal nutritional intake while travelling and competing and discusses strategies to overcome these barriers. Just like every aspect of your training, the key is planning and preparation. Without appropriate planning, it will be extremely difficult for you to achieve your nutritional goals. As a reminder, your nutritional goals when travelling should include:
- To maintain appropriate carbohydrate for training and competing
- To ensure energy (kilojoule) balance (which may be altered due to changes in training or competition loads).
- To ensure all vitamin and mineral requirements are met each day.
- To ensure fluid intake is consistent with needs, taking into account new climates, altitude etc - this topic deserves an article all to itself and will be addressed next in the series on nutrition for golfers!
What are my options for food while away?
Cooking skills, budget and access to supermarkets will determine the meals that can be prepared. The availability of food at local shops, the cooking and storage facilities and available utensils need to be investigated before leaving home. Ideally, the menu should be planned in advance. Cook books such as the Australia Institute of Sports Survival for the Fittest and Survival from the Fittest can be used as a guide. These books contain special menus for 1-7 days and the corresponding required ingredients (www.ais.org/nutrition). Useful utensil items to pack when self catering include; a can opener, chopping knife, storage containers for leftovers. For some locations, power cord adaptors, an in-cup heater and an electric kettle may also be useful. If travelling with other competitors, you could consider making a plan with companions when it comes to shopping, cooking and snacks while away. A good idea is to each nominate two or three different dishes they are happy to cook while away. It is up to the cook then to ensure that all the necessary ingredients for at least their dishes make it into the shopping trolley.
Cooking and Shopping Tips:
- Organise regular shopping trips, you may have to shop more than once throughout the tournament! If healthy food is there, it reduces the temptation to rely on high fat, less nutritious or take-away foods.
- Make a list and shop to a plan. Keep in mind the specific meals you are shopping for.
- Read the labels. Look for items with a fat content lower than 10g/100g.
- Don’t shop when hungry, you will be more likely tempted by unnecessary items.
SAMPLE SHOPPING LIST
- Breakfast cereals
- All types of pasta and noodles
- Rice – all types. There are many packet rice meals that are low in fat.
- Low fat crackers, rice crackers
- Rice/corn cakes, pretzels, popcorn
- Taco shells, burritos, tortillas
- Canned beans and spaghetti
- Canned fish in water or brine (no oil)
- Tomato and vegetable based pasta sauces
- Flavour enhancers – curry paste, minced garlic, chilli, ginger, pesto, tomato paste
- Sauces, Spices, Herbs, condiments – mustard, low oil salad dressing, sweet Chilli, BBQ, Soy and tomato sauce salsa, taco sauce
- Canned soups (non creamy)
- Canned vegetables – corn, beetroot, tomatoes, mushrooms etc
- Canned fruit in natural juice
- Spreads – honey, jam, lite peanut butter
- Dried fruit
- Olive oil spray for cooking
- Sports drinks, fruit juice, cordial, soft drink
- Bread, breadrolls, pita bread, low fat muffins, crumpets, pikelets, hotcakes, Lebanese bread, lavish breads
- Pre cooked pasta or rice (no cream or cheese sauces)
- Frozen veges – variety
- Ice-cream, frozen yoghurt, low fat gelati
- Lean meat, chicken and fish
- Bread - as above
- Milk and yoghurt (reduced fat)
- Fresh fruit and juices
- Reduced fat cheese, ricotta, light cream cheese
- Fresh pasta noodles and sauces.
MENU IDEAS AND TIPS
- Grills with vegetables and salad. Use lean meat, trim fat. Use smaller serve of protein and increase carbohydrate with potato, corn, rice or cous cous
- Pastas – No creamy or cheese sauces!!
- Casseroles or Curries with rice. Use lite coconut milk for curries. Basmati rice is low GI.
- Stir fries – Use a variety of different coloured veges (frozen is fine) and lean meat. Serve with rice or low fat noodles (e.g. Hokkein).
- Homemade pizza – use thick based, use a variety of toppings with vegetables and a light sprinkle of low fat cheese.
Snacks are an important component of eating and recovery nutrition plans for all golfers, however access to quality snacks can be difficult when travelling. It pays to take a supply of portable, non-perishable snack foods that are unlikely to be available at the destination, particularly ones that you like and are comfortable with and form a part of your regular snack routine. It may be useful to send a package of supplies ahead to decrease baggage. Remember to check with customs/quarantine regarding foods that are restricted from crossing certain borders. Useful Food Items To Take:
- cereal bars
- breakfast cereal
- canned snack pack fruits
- dried fruit
- instant noodles
- jam, honey, peanut butter, Vegemite
- powdered sports drink
- powdered liquid meal supplements
- powdered skim milk
- concentrated fruit juic
- baked beans and spaghetti
Eating out even when in your own country can often provide a challenge to golfers. Where possible, restaurants should be investigated before leaving home. The meal options, cooking styles, opening hours and hygiene of the establishment should be considered. It is useful to book restaurants ahead of time as many businesses are unable to cater for specific requests or large groups at short notice. Discussing the proposed menu with restaurant staff in advance will minimise problems at meal- time. This is particularly important when athletes have special dietary needs (e.g. vegetarian, celiac disease, food allergies & intolerances).
Meals that focus on carbohydrate choices such as rice, noodles and pasta and bread are a good place to start. Add lean sources of protein such as lean meat, fish, chicken, beans or tofu and include plenty of vegetables.
Avoid dishes that are deep fried, sautéed, or battered. Buffet style eating can be a good option as it allows athletes a range of choices. It is quicker than waiting for individual meals to arrive and is cost effective. One of the pitfalls of buffet eating is that it is easy to over indulge. This can be avoided by planning meals in advance and leaving the buffet when full. If using the same restaurant for more than a few days, vary the menu from day to day rather than within a meal to avoid boredom. If possible, avoid being solely reliant on restaurant/fast food options. They can be time consuming, expensive and a nutritional challenge. Healthy choices when eating out include:
Rolls and Sandwiches:
Choose salad and lean cuts of meat, egg or cheese. Ask for wholegrain breads and extra salad. NO margarine/butter or mayonnaise.
Choose vegetarian or seafood toppings. Thin crust and request less cheese. Extra meat toppings should be avoided.
Choose grilled or BBQ breast (without skin). Avoid crumbed, fried chicken pieces/nuggets)
Choose grilled steamed baked fish, seafood, lean meat of chicken, vegetarian dishes based on legumes. Avoid fried battered or crumbed meats, pastries, pies, rich gravies and sauces, cream based dishes.
Choose jacket or baked potato (no cheese, butter or sour cream). Avoid hot chips, potato cakes, potato gems, potato wedges, roast potato, crisps, potato salad.
Choose pasta meat or chicken with tomato based, seafood, vegetarian or pesto sauces, fresh salad with plain bread rolls or fresh bread. Avoid lasagne, cannelloni, ravioli, cream, cheese or oil based dressings and garlic and herb bread.
Choose steamed rice or noodles, soups, sushi, stir fry dishes with lean meat chicken and vegetables. Steamed dim sims, cabbage leaf parcels, naan, Riati. Avoid fried rice or noodles, fried dim sims, spring rolls or samosas, tempura battered or deep fried food, peanut sauce, coconut cream based curries and papadums.
Choose burrito or enchilada with salad, rice, beans, lean meat or chicken taco with extra salad. Avoid large amounts of guacamole, corn chips, taco shells, tostados, sour cream, nachos, cheese.
Choose fresh fruit, berries, melon, baked apples, fruit salad, sorbet, low fat gelato, meringue, low fat yoghurt, custard and mousse. Avoid pies, pastries, cream, ice-cream, cheesecake, chocolate cake, chocolates, cheese platters. The most useful piece of advice with regard to shopping and eating while travelling, is to approach it as you should all other aspects of your life – with a PLAN!!! Where possible, PLAN meals in advance and shop accordingly. PLAN quick, easy and healthy meals for the days you know you will be busy, PLAN for lots of variety. PLAN to have healthy, portable snacks on hand for preparation and recovery from tournament play. With these things in mind, you will be confident that you have adequately taken care of your nutritional needs.
Good luck on the road!
B Hlth Sci. (Nutr&Diet) (Hons) APD SDA
This information has been collated from a number of sources including Sports Dietitians Australia, Fact sheet No 8 “Nutrition and the traveling athlete” (www.sportsdietitians.com) and the Australian Institute of Sport’s, Hot Topics, “Nutrition for traveling athletes” (www.ais.org.au/nutrition), Michelle Cort, 2003.