Tips for Eating Healthy While Traveling as a Digital Nomad – Podcast 017

In this episode B and Jack tips and tricks for eating healthy while traveling as a digital nomad. They go over the mindsets of fitness and the practical tips that can help you through the chaos of travelling.

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1. Summary

1.1. Dieting Within The Broader Digital Nomad Life System [3:05]

    • The Digital Nomad Life System is a 6-step meta-system created by us at Nomad Tactics that aims to explain how someone can go from living a non-nomadic normal life to living an optimized digital nomad life.
    • The fifth step of the system is called “Nomadic Living”. This is the broadest of all steps in the system. It basically can be understood as all the advice that would be relevant to a digital nomad when he is living in a base. This is of course very much context-sensitive depending on the specific situation of the digital nomad. Dieting is something you should consider once you living in a base, therefore it makes sense to place it in this step.
    • To have a general overview of the Digital Nomad Life System you should listen to this episode.

1.2. The healthy mindsets toward eating healthy while traveling (or fitness more generally) [4:06]

    • Fitness is meant to enhance your life, not to rule over it: To translate into plain words, it means that you shouldn’t miss out on the local food just because it can break your diet. You need some sort of balance.
    • Do not aim for perfection, good enough is good enough: You shouldn’t focus too much on the details. Rather you should look at the big picture. Sometimes you are going to eat more, and sometimes eat less. It’s ok. As long as you follow the tips we will give you, most of the time, you can will be eating healthy while traveling as a digital nomad.
    • Have a goal and be realistic with it: Understand that you are travelling. Therefore, things will be different from when you were having a stable life. Just embrace the uncertainty and do the best you can.

1.3. The basics of dieting for eating healthy while traveling [6:40]

    • Always try to rent an Airbnb with a kitchen and look if there is a supermarket nearby: Having a kitchen allows you to cook healthy meals. Home-cooked meals should constitute the bulk of your diet.
    • Build your diet around commonly used items around the world: If you do so then when you go to another country you won’t need to recalculate your calories and macros all over again.
      • For example, if you use whole wheat bread (as your source of carbs), avocado (as your source of fats), and Greek yoghurt (as your source of protein) on a daily basis, then you might encounter some as you travel. These are the type of food you may easily find in North America and Europe. Nonetheless, finding those might be a bit tricky in Asia. Thus it’s better for you to use commonly used ingredients around the world.
        • Common ingredients around the world:
          • Carbs: rice, potato, oats, pasta
          • Proteins: pork, tuna, chicken, beef, eggs, milk
          • Fat: olive oil, nuts
    • Bring accessories that help you dieting as a digital nomad. We think there are three inexpensive and relative small tools that you can carry with you.
      • Small food scale: You can measure how much you are eating
      • Small body weight scale: Sure, you can weigh yourself in a pharmacy every week. However, if you are serious about your fitness and health, checking your weight every morning is quite crucial.
      • Silicone bento box: Since these are made out of silicon these are foldable. This means that a silicon bento box will take up little space in your luggage. The purpose of this item is to enable you to carry your homecooked meal to a co-working space or to a day trip. 

1.4. Tips for when you are eating out [11:27]

    • Limit the number of times you eat out: Try to do it only once or twice a week. This does not mean you should stop eating out altogether. You are a traveller after all, and trying the local cuisine is part of travelling. Nonetheless, to keep fit, the bulk of your diet should be constituted by homecooked meals since these can be healthier (if compared to food from outside) and you can easily track the calories. Keep the local food for special moments, not everyday meals!
    • Learn how to estimate the portions when you are eating out: The goal is to eyeball your food calories without knowing the exact ingredients used (but consider the next tip on this list) and without the need of using a food scale to see the weight. You can practice that by picking a certain portion of food at home and training yourself to second guess how many grams are there.
    • Choose meals that have somewhat trackable calories: Let’s say you can choose between a steak and a bowl of curry. A steak is easier to track calories and macro nutrition (it is a simpler food, with fewer ingredients) if compared to a bowl curry. Thus, you could have a better estimation of how much you are eating if you choose the former rather than the latter.
    • If you overeat when you eating out then eat less the following days: The point here is that you should view caloric intake as a weekly measurement instead of a daily one. Moreover, in order to compensate for overeating, you can also do cardio that day or the next day.
    • When you are eating out, avoid meals that have too much fat: According to some empirical research fats (not cabs!) is the macronutrient that most easily can be store as body fat if you have a caloric surplus in your diet. Thus, when you are eating out, in order to stay on the safe side avoid overly fat meals.
    • Save up calories at the beginning of the day if you plan to eat out: By doing so you will have more flexibility when you are eating out later on.

1.5. Dieting optimization for eating healthy while traveling [16:11]

    • If you are in a cheaper country, you can ask a local restaurant to cook you the “basic” (bulk of your diet) foods: Some examples of healthy basic foods for your diet are grilled chicken, rice, boiled veggies,etc. A restaurant can easily cook those for you! Sometimes it’s cheaper to have a restaurant cook for you instead of you cooking by yourself.
    • Estimate how many extra calories to eat in a day based on a step counter: As a digital nomad, your daily steps can change drastically from day to day. The step count of working day will be different from a hiking day. And these steps can be counted with a device, whether it is an Apple watch, phone or a smart bracelet. You can replenish the calorie consumption according to the steps you walk that day.
    • Have healthy snacks for moments you need, like on airplanes and day trips. One of the key factors of dieting is consistency. People often give themselves permission to eat unhealthy food in certain scenarios. Airplane meals and daytrips are good examples. So instead of giving up on your environment, we suggest you to bring healthy snacks with you.
      • Good healthy snacks to bring:
        • Beef jerky
        • Protein bars
        • Nuts
        • Rice cake
        • Fruits
    • Have “pure” source of macros in your house in order to top up your diet after a day out. When you eat out, it’s easy to miss one or more macro nutrition. So we suggest you to keep one “pure” source of each macronutrient in your base. Usually, the main macro nutrition people will be lacking when eating out is protein (as well as greens and fiber, which are not macronutriets, but you should also top up those once you get home). So we advice you to keep some whey protein powder with you if available.

2.Transcript

Mr. B: Hello welcome to the nomad tactics podcast. Here we provide life optimizing tips and systems for digital nomads. I am your host B. and I'm joined by the co host Jack. Today we gonna talk about some tips to keep your diet on the road as a digital nomad. I will start with a quick summary of the episode. First me and Mister Jack gonna talk about which exact problem we are trying to tackle with this episode. After that we gonna contextualized this problem within our broader digital nomad life system then we gonna talk about some useful mindsets to keep in mind to do with fitness overall and dieting specifically and then we're going to go over some tips related to your diet on the road. I hope you enjoy the episode.
Jack: So hello Mister B..
Mr. B: Hello Jack.
Jack: So the topic today we're gonna talk about is dieting or more specific how to keep a diet on the road.
Jack: Mr B. why is this a important topic for digital nomads.
Mr. B: So yeah Jack. I think the answer to this question is two fold actually.
Mr. B: I think that digital nomad by definition they are traveling around the living in different places they face the problem of number one having a quite chaotic lifestyle and this involves not knowing when you gonna eat next or not knowing what you're going to eat next and also the problem of being tempted to eat out a lot and it makes sense right they're traveling they wanna try the local food there is no problem with that but you just gotta be strategic with it the second reason why I think the topic of dieting is quite relevant is because I think it's part of the digital nomad ethos or culture what whatever you wanna call to be quite fit the people I met along the road many of them are into going to gym or doing yoga stuff like that therefore dieting is something kind of complementary to that.
Jack: Yeah I think focusing on mind and body is something digital nomads really into.
Jack: Makes sense we as digital nomads are really into fitness so I hope this episode can give out some general guidelines for certain tips that can help you keep an diet on the road.
Jack: So Mr. B I think as usual we should put this topic into our digital nomad life system.
Jack: Which is a six step system that aims to help a normal person I E. a person who is working nine to five and it is a location dependent jobs into a optimized digital nomad life.
Jack: So Mr be where would you put this topic into which step of the system.
Mr. B: So I think the topic today fits the fifth step of our system and the fifth step is called the nomadic living.
Mr. B: This is of course the broadest of all of the steps within the system and it can be basically understood as all the advice that would be relevant to a digital nomad when he's living in a base I E. his temporary home.
Mr. B: Of course dieting is something you're going to do when you are in the base. Therefore it makes sense to place this topic here.
Jack: So before we go into the main topic I think a great starting point will be mindsets
Jack: And we think this mindset can be applied to fitness generally but more specifically on dieting so go three pointer the first point is fitness is meant to enhance your life not to rule it.
Mr. B: I think that's a great mindset for fitness and dieting and the idea behind is that you know you should care about this things at the same time you shouldn't be obsessed about it because after all you're traveling and there are certain things that you're going to need to be flexible with as we gonna talk about like eating out of course we are not advocating you should diet a hundred percent of the time and never tried the local food you gotta try the local food we just got to be smart about it.
Jack: So the second point here is do not aim for perfection good enough is good enough.
Mr. B: So yeah I guess the second mindset is also important and it goes hand in hand with the so called the eighty twenty principle where you should focus on the main things but not necessarily obsessed about the details and also know that you're not going to do everything perfect a hundred percent of the time so sometimes you can eat more when you are in a very special restaurants somewhere or with some people but as long as you generally keep this rule. You will be able to be safe and have a good diet overall.
Jack: Yes just not get stressed over the twenty percent so the last item we have here is have a goal and be realistic with it.
Mr. B: So I mean the idea with his last mindset is that you should always have a goal in mind this goals gonna depending on who you are of course if you want to gain weight I E. bulking or if you wanna lose weight or if you want to more or less maintained but it's important to at least roughly have the goal in mind.
Mr. B: And be realistic with it so you cannot expect to be as strict and as perfect when you are traveling and living a digital all my life.
Mr. B: As you would when you were living in a stable place you gotta know traveling comes with some sort of uncertainty and chaotic things so you just got embrace it and do the best you can.
Jack: Yeah I think if you can keep the three items in mind you can stay fit during your travel so go on to the main topic of today we divide this into three main categories the first one is the basic of dieting the second one as you are eating out and the third one is targeting optimization so the first item on the basis of quote of dieting is used ran an Airbnb with the kitchen and look if there is a supermarket.
Mr. B: So I think having a place with a kitchen as a digital nomad is like the bread and butter offs dieting so what you gonna do is when you are looking for your Airbnb you going to filter for places with kitchen and after that you gonna have a look in the area to see if there is a supermarket near it for the sake of convenience of course if you have a kitchen you gonna be able to eat at home the majority of the time therefore your whole diets will be generally healthier.
Jack: I see so the second point here is you should build your diet around common ingredients around the world.
Mr. B: So the basic idea here is that you should be old the bulk of your diet around this things that you can find worldwide therefore once you move from a place to another you won't need to recalculate all the calories you are ingesting this sounds a little bit complicated so let me try to clarify let's say for breakfast you usually have a whole wheat bread as the sort of carb you have avocados as your sorts of fat and you have a greak yogurt as your source of protein these are all really good foods and you might find those really easily if you are let's say in North America or in Europe but if you move to Asia and set the new base there perhaps you're gonna start having a hard time to find all these ingredients.
Mr. B: So it seems to me that a better idea would be for you to build your breakfast around things that you can find both in Europe and in Asia for example I would change instead of having whole wheat bread perhaps I would have oats since this is the kind of thing you can find pretty much worldwide instead of having Greek yogurt I would have eggs and instead of having avocados I would have olive oil thinking strategically about these key ingredients that gonna constitute your diet will be very handy in order for you to maintain it over a longer period of time without the need of constantly calculate the micros and the calories.
Jack: Yeah it does make sense that you should choose ingredients that are commonly used in the world so the last item on this category is have assistant tools with you.
Mr. B: Yes so I think there are three accessories that are pretty small and inexpensive that you can carry with you that really going to help you to keep a diet on the road So the first one is a small portable food scale I will link in the show description the food scale that I use this a foldable one and you know when you get to the place you will get a food scale it makes much easier for you to calculate how much you eating the second item is a small portable body weight scale this is perhaps not a must item because of course you can go to pharmacy every week let's say and check your body weight but I preferred to carry a small body weight scale with me because this is really pretty small and they're kind of funny because you've got a balance yourself on top of them and since there's mall that's kind of hard but if you are serious about dieting and you can get your body weight every morning that something beneficial for you so why not third item that I would suggest is a silicon foldable bento box. So the reason why you gonna have that is because if you cook at home you gonna be able to eat outside the benefit of having this specific one made of silicon because it folds therefore it doesn't occupy space in your luggage so a good thing as a traveler.
Jack: Yeah I do see you care with these three items around with you when you travel so going on to the next category is eating out to try local food. So the first item here is you should limit the amount of time you eat out we suggest you to eat out once or twice a week.
Mr. B: So the basic idea here is that you should not stop yourself from trying the local food when you go to a new country but rather that you got to be smart about it and just do it once or twice a week so the bulk of your diet should be things you cook yourself in your flat.
Mr. B: Because this tend to be more healthy and these are easier to track but once or twice a week go out and try the local food.
Jack: So the second item here we have is when you're eating out you should learn how to estimate the portion you're eating.
Mr. B: So the basic idea here is that if you practice a bit you're gonna be able to estimate roughly how much you eating of certain foods when you're eating out and therefore you're going to be able to track the calories and macros accordingly.
Mr. B: And the way to practice that of course is when you're at home pick a portion of the certain food in basic food like rice with chicken.
Mr. B: Put in the plate and estimate and train yourself to try to guess how much that food you put in on the plate and you gonna double check by putting the plate in a food scale after trying that for awhile and you gonna become better and better doing that and you're going to be able to use that when you are eating out.
Jack: Yeah I was a bit skeptical about this method but it actually works.
Jack: So the next item there is you should preferably choose trackable meals.
Mr. B: Yeah this is again a quite good point when you're eating out and the idea here is that so you go to a restaurant and you have the choice of different dishes you should go for the ones that you think going to be easier for you to account for in terms of calories so let's say a you have the choice between some sort of steak with special sauce on top or you have a curry I think the steak going to be way easier for you to roughly estimate how many calories there are on the other hand if you go for curry you don't really know what is in there and it's really hard to estimate the amount of calories and the macros there so perhaps not the best choice.
Jack: So the next item me we have here is if you overeat when you eating out for some reason or the other they should try to balance it out with the rest of the week.
Mr. B: So the basic idea here is that the most important thing when you're dieting is your weekly caloric intake rather than your daily caloric intake so if you eat too much let's say you went to a local restaurant was really good and you really want to eat as much as you could it makes sense for you to diet down in the following days of the week to have a balance in your caloric intake. Or to increase your cardio in the following days.
Jack: So the next item we have here is when eat out you should try to avoid meals that appears to have too much fat.
Mr. B: Yeah and the basic idea here is that if we account for the three main markers which are fats protein and carbs the type of macro that converts the easiest to body fat are fats themselves so yeah just try to avoid meals that are overly fat in order to avoid the potential of storing this extra calories as body fat.
Jack: So the last item we have here is you should save up calorie budget is in the early of the day to have more flexibility when you're eating out.
Mr. B: Once again the idea here is that you're trying to avoid going over your caloric budget.
Mr. B: So you should perhaps eat less in the beginning of the day if you'll know that later on let's say for lunch or for dinner you want to try some local food therefore you're gonna be on the safe side in terms of calories.
Jack: Yeah so going on to the next and the last category is dieting optimization so the first item we have here is if you're living in the cheaper country you can ask a local restaurant to cook you the basic foods.
Mr. B: So the idea here is instead of cooking yourself these basic foods like rice or steamed veggies or chicken the things that going to be the building blocks of the majority of healthy diets you can ask a local restaurant to do it for you and usually as Mr Jackson if you're in the cheaper country it is going to be very affordable and sometimes even cheaper than you going to the supermarket and cooking yourself.
Jack: So the next item we have here you can estimate how much extra calories to eat in a day based on a step counter.
Mr. B: So did basic idea here is that as a digital nomad your all our daily steps gonna change quite drastically from day to day so sometimes you just gonna stay home working but a lot of the times are going to go out to you know explored the new city therefore it makes sense for you to account for this difference in the daily stops by having a step counter with you which can be an apple watch or any smart watch for that matter or even your phone then you gonna look at day exercise ops in which you want that specific day and see the amount of extra calories you can consume.
Jack: So the next item we have here is you should have some healthy snacks for the moment you need let's say on the airplane or day trips.
Mr. B: So if you're dieting consistencies is key. And I feel like people kind of accepted in their minds that in certain environments it's okay to eat unhealthy foods and the airplane is a perfect example here so out of the food served in airplanes it's not the healthiest.
Mr. B: So instead of eating that you can bring with you some healthy snacks as Mr Jack said then this can be as a beef jerky or protein bars peanuts rice cake fruits stuff like that and have the healthier option same thing for day trips just bring those instead of eating out all the time.
Jack: So the last item we have here is have your sources of micros your base in order to top up your diet after a day out.
Mr. B: So when you're eating out and trying local food a lot of the time the meals going to be deficient in some micronutrients therefore it makes sense for you to have a pure source of each micro ie protein fat and carbs and just top it up whatever the meal was deficient of.
Mr. B: Usually I would say it's protein so you can have something like whey to account for that deficiency.
Jack: I see so some say this is the end of episode Mr B do you want to add anything to this?
Mr. B: Just would like to say this isn't gonna all encompassing list and there surely some other tips we can provide so if people are interested in this topic we can come up with new episodes talking about dieting as a digital nomad or more generally fitness as a digital nomad.
Jack: Yeah I hope you guys like the fitness topic we are talking about and if you liked this episode please make sure to leave a review on a listening platform we're still a new podcast and every review helps this is Jack and thank you for listening thank you very much.

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3.Resources

Link with * star is an affiliate link

  1. *Portable body weight scale
  2. *Silicon bento box
  3. *Compact folding food scale