Eating a Healthy Balanced Diet in Hotel Rooms

Living in hotels does not prevent me from eating a nutritionist-recommended balanced diet.

Overall, I stick with whole, fresh, high-fiber, low-sodium, nutritious food.  Out of convenience, I occasionally eat eggs and lean meat.  I avoid processed foods, especially food with trans fat. I recently took classes held by a local nutritionist, and I’ve summarized my learnings below.

My nutritionist-recommended balanced diet references the following food groups:

  • PROTEIN – Serving = 7g protein (55-75 calories) – Examples: 2 egg whites, 1 oz. lean meat, 1/2 cup tofu, 1 tbsp peanut butter, 1/4 cup canned tuna
  • STARCH – Serving = 15g carbs (80 calories) – Examples: 1/3 cup quinoa, 1/2 cup beans, 6 in. tortilla, 3 cups popcorn, 1/2 cup starchy vegetables (e.g., potato, peas, corn, yams)
  • FAT – Serving = 5g fat (45 calories) – Examples: 2 tbsp avocado, 6 almonds, 4 walnuts halves, 1 tsp mayonnaise
  • VEGETABLE – Serving = 1-5g carbs (5-25 calories) – Examples: Unlimited spinach, celery, radishes, cucumbers, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, and mushrooms
  • FRUIT – Serving = 15g carbs (80 calories) – Examples: 1 small apple, 1/2 small banana, 1 cup strawberries, 3/4 cup blueberries, 12 cherries, 1/2 cup mango, 1/2 cup grapes

I enjoy unlimited herbs, spices, lemon juice, hot sauce, and herbal tea. I add a tablespoon of nutritional yeast on my salads for Vitamin B-12.  I also drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.

pie chart of % calories1500-calorie/day meal plan:
4 protein
9 starch
9+ vegetable
4 fat
3 fruit

My weight loss guidelines per meal are:
0-3 protein
2-5 starch
1-8 vegetable
1-2 fat
0-1 fruit

If you’re old enough to remember, this diet reminds me of Richard Simmon’s Deal-a-Meal from the 1980’s. You start each day with a certain number of cards for each food group, and as you eat, you move your food group cards from one side of a wallet to another.  As a diabetic, it’s also extra important for me to make the healthiest food choices and to spread my carbs (from starch and fruit) evenly throughout the day.

Because of my recent diabetes diagnosis, it’s important that I lose weight/belly fat.  Therefore, I am currently adjusting this meal plan by eating only 4-6 starch servings instead of 9 of them.  That corresponds with a 1200-calorie diet.  I eat more calories on days that I exercise heavily.

omelette and oatmeal journal
Sample from my food, exercise, and glucose journal; click for more examples

I keep a detailed log of all of the food I eat. I also track my exercise and my blood sugar. By measuring my blood sugar at different times while making only small adjustments to my diet and exercise routine, I can identify how I react to different foods. For example, I have found that a small orange makes my blood sugar rise rapidly, but grapefruit, berries or a small apple raise it only slightly.  I have also found that exercise clearly keeps my blood sugar at a good, stable level.

Because I live in hotels, I usually do not have access to a kitchen.  Instead, there is a small refrigerator in my room, and a microwave is usually available somewhere in the hotel.  I own some spices and a few crucial kitchen items, such as a knife, a collapsible measuring cup/bowl, and a microwave veggie steamer.  I love shopping at Whole Foods and getting salads from the salad bar.  I also have an annual subscription for free deliveries using the Whole Foods online shopping app, called Instacart.  It’s super easy to have fresh groceries delivered to my door every few days.

Because I live in hotels full-time, my elite status means I always receive a complimentary breakfast.  Most high-end hotels offer steel cut oatmeal and berries.  I occasionally request an oil-free veggie omelette.  Last week, I brought celery, avocado, lemon, parsley, cayenne pepper, and crackers to breakfast in my hotel’s executive lounge. I happily turned their fresh boiled eggs into a healthy and yummy low-carb egg salad.

eggs, avocado, parsley, lemon, celery, crackers, and cantaloupe with tea
Preparing my egg salad in the hotel lounge

egg whites, avocado, parsley, celery, crackers
Libby’s Healthy Egg Salad

My other meals are quite basic. Without a kitchen, I mostly rely on raw, fresh food. I don’t cook, but I buy some pre-made items, such as quinoa salad or lean meat, from Whole Foods.

My lunch is generally the same every day: a giant salad with all my favorite veggies. I usually use hummus as a dressing, and I add a couple of servings of starch or protein, such as quinoa, beans, sweet potato, or tofu.

Popcorn separated into single serving sizes
Each Ziploc baggie of popcorn is 17g of carbs, or 1 starch serving

Frequent snacks include hummus with veggies, shelled edamame, fruit, and popcorn. To help ensure I eat just one portion, I make single serving baggies ready-to-grab. I’m not tempted to overeat or make bad choices when my healthy snacks are just ready to go like that.

My dinner is usually a few servings of protein and/or starch with a bunch of steamed vegetables.  I haven’t been very imaginative with my meals, but it’s been helpful to keep it simple and consistent. If I’m still hungry after my meals and snacks, I simply snack on more vegetables.  I am satiated and no longer crave sweets.  I’ve lost several pounds so far, but instead of focusing on the scale, I’m focusing on how GREAT I feel.

Although most people don’t live in hotels like I do, maybe you might find some of these no-cooking ideas helpful.  If you have additional ideas or questions for me, I’d love to hear from you.

One comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.