When a Healthy Diet Fights Stress on the Road

A healthy diet is a must for stress-free business travel and simply requires essential planning…

We all know that a healthy diet or healthy eating and regular exercise can lead to a content and ‘well’ lifestyle. But for the business traveler, eating properly and exercising enough on the road can often prove to be a challenge.

Long business meetings, calorie-laden dinners and late nights, jet lag and time spent out of a regular routine can wreak havoc with the body clock, sleep patterns, immune and digestives systems. Weight gain can also become an issue and stress levels are often raised.

In short, during any business travel the detrimental effects of leading a stressful lifestyle without taking good care of oneself and following a healthy diet in transit can well and truly set in.

Fiona Kirk is a leading British nutritionist who has transformed the lives of many through her frank and accessible approach to diet, healthy eating and nutrition.

One of Fiona’s specialties is supporting those struggling to follow a healthy diet given their hectic and stressful lifestyles. By offering practical and simple diet solutions to busy and stressed executives they’re able to adopt a different approach and make the necessary changes.

Nutritionist and Author, Fiona Kirk

For a great many this means adopting the ‘small and often’ approach.

Here, the fat loss mentor and author tells Nativa World how best to follow a healthy diet and lifestyle for stress-free travel and how to incorporate healthy eating into a business trip….

Fiona what does the word, ‘Enrich’ mean to you?

My goal is always to nourish my readers in whatever great or small way I can. By expanding their understanding of what constitutes a healthy diet, healthy eating and lifestyle, by giving them clear direction with regard to what, when and how to eat to successfully address their particular concerns and perhaps most importantly, by offering deliciously-nutritious eating plans, I hope to enrich their lives and make their diet work for them with minimal fuss, minimal shopping, minimal kitchen skills and minimal stress.

What’s your background?

I had an early menopause and was advised to take HRT (at that time, the dangers had not been flagged up). Regular medication, however was not my bag, so I started to investigate alternatives, read everything I could get my hands on with regard to the ‘power of diet’ during the menopausal years and couldn’t quite believe how I had somehow or other managed to get by without knowing all this fascinating stuff about healthy eating! I was hooked and decided at the grand old age of 43 to ‘go back to school’. I embarked on a nutritional therapy course at the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in London. It was a monumentally hard 4 years as I was living in Scotland, holding down a job in catering, bringing up a daughter and trying all the while to be a ‘domestic goddess’. I got there in the end and have never looked back!

What’s unique about your services and method?

Unique? I think not! But, perhaps my loyal and faithful readers and followers would say “she tells it like it is and doesn’t bamboozle you with scientific jargon or harp on about the nutritional fabulousness of foods which taste awful and that you have to force down – or have to stick like glue to an overly-prescriptive eating program”. First and foremost, I love food and love cooking with the freshest ingredients but we all have days when our crazy, busy lives go a bit pear-shaped. This is when my ‘grab and go’ tactics come into their own and little damage to healthy eating is done!

Nutritionist & Author Fiona Kirk eating fresh food

Ongoing stress can play havoc with our eating habits and with our weight

What inspired you to write Diet Secrets Uncovered for Stressed Executives?

I know a great many people whose lives are full-on – endless meetings, endless travel, endless business-related social events, not to mention trying to run a home, deal with family issues and maybe even factor in some quality time with friends! Most of them are loathed to change, so whilst there are some excellent stress-relieving practices that they might/should adopt (meditation, yoga, NLP etc) my skills are diet-related. Ongoing stress can play havoc with our eating habits and with our weight (some can’t shift it, others can’t gain it) so I felt it was vitally important that I not only explain the biochemical reasons behind why this happens (in simple terms) but also offer a selection of eating plans in a bid to counteract the havoc.

What should be different about an executives diet (so they can avoid stress)?

You can only try and deal with stress in every practical way you can and endeavor to positively control the effect it has on the body and on our health. When it comes to busy and stressed executives it’s largely about timing. Many super-busy people tell me they forget (or don’t have time) to eat for most of the day, thrive on coffee and perhaps a grabbed sandwich and hoover down the bulk of their daily nourishment late in the day only hours before slumping into bed! The stress hormones are none-too-keen on this kind of regime – they’re looking for regular nourishment and for a great many this means adopting the ‘small and often’ approach.

What diet would you suggest for businesswomen who want to enjoy stress-free travel?

It’s all about planning. Don’t think about going out the door without a few snacks in your handbag or briefcase – a small bag of fresh nuts and seeds and a piece of fruit at the very least, a wee pot of hummus or cottage cheese, a few crackers or mini oatcakes, a bunch of cherry tomatoes and/or raw vegetable sticks, a portion of hard cheese, a cold boiled egg and a mini bar of very dark chocolate plus your nuts and seeds and fruit at best! Grazing is the name of the game for healthy eating when you’re traveling and know you’ll rarely have an opportunity to sit down and enjoy a meal. The focus should be on small if you don’t want to pile on the pounds – few believe that a cold cooked boiled egg and a handful of fresh nuts can deal with a bout of hunger in a matter of minutes, but it can!

Any other healthy eating and nutrition tips for businesswomen who want to enjoy stress-free travel?

Time zone changes can be difficult, particularly if you’re expected to be at your sharpest-best in a meeting just hours after you land. Aim to get to the airport well ahead of time if you can and have a good and nourishing meal before you board. Most airports now offer a wealth of healthy options (you can’t beat a good soup and a protein-rich salad – steer clear of starchy breads, pasta, rice etc as they are likely to add to ‘the bloat’ that tends to occur at altitude), grab a couple of bottles of water once you are through security, make sure you have your handbag/briefcase snacks to hand and unless you are lucky enough to be flying ‘business’ where you can enjoy protein and vegetable-rich meals – again without starch – let the food trolley pass by. There’s an argument for a decent glass of red wine or a spirit ‘on the rocks’ early on if it’s a long flight just to tip you over into a pleasant slumber for a few hours, but remember to have loads of water when you wake!

What lifestyle tips can you suggest for businesswomen who travel?

  • Find the time (somehow or other) to keep your skin, hair and nails in good order and dress simply but professionally. First impressions really matter when you’re trying to seal a deal.
  • Exercise daily or as often as you can – even a 30 minute brisk walk outdoors between meetings, no matter where you are, gets the metabolism fired up, energizes us, promotes increased levels of vital vitamin D, improves cardiovascular health and if required, prompts weight loss.
  • Should you have to entertain of be entertained on a regular basis, do everything you can to focus on grilled, steamed or roasted meats, poultry, fish or vegetarian alternatives with plenty of vegetable side dishes, body-swerve the pasta, rice, potatoes or fries.
  • Avoid desserts or have fresh fruit and a little cheese and have plenty of water (and perhaps a couple of glasses of extra dry champagne if the occasion demands it!)

Parcel Baked Fish by Fiona Kirk

Diet is phenomenally important and our gut health can make a huge difference

What new foods or snacks are worth trying?

Fermented foods are big news currently and there is good reason for this. When we’re stressed and the stress is ongoing, digestion issues are not far behind – indigestion, heartburn and IBS aren’t uncommon in people who live a life which they either can’t or won’t ease up on. It’s all too easy to simply advise people to try to lose some of the stress but many of us thrive on it, rightly or wrongly. Diet is phenomenally important and our gut health can make a huge difference to how we endeavor to counteract our digestion issues and fermented foods are right up there on the ‘nutritional helpline’. Probiotic yogurts are the easy choice but experiment with sauerkraut, kimchi, natto, tempeh, miso, pickles, kombucha and kefir – some you will love, some you will hate but they are all gut-lovers so be brave and have a go!

How can people contact you for nutritional services?

I no longer consult on a one to one basis. Just go to my website and ask away! I’ll respond to even the most off-the-wall query – if I can!

Diet Secrets Uncovered for Stressed Executives

Photography courtesy of Fiona Kirk &