We’ve all been on a road trip before, had that rumble in the stomach and made a quick turn into the drive-thru. It is the most convenient option many times, but it can leave you needing and wanting a healthy option once the driving stops.
Baseball players face similar obstacles in their effort to remain healthy on the road. Taken from the comforts of their kitchen or the usual pre- and postgame spread at home, they are forced to nourish themselves on their own. Sure, they’re all adults, but that only means they can fall into the trappings of a quick, and unhealthy, bite.
Knowing your surroundings can help. After several years in several cities in both leagues, Adrian Gonzalez is pretty confident in the mission to maintain health on the road. Well, Gonzalez is confident in most any regard. It’s what separates him from others in the business.
Still, he understands the increased need to watch the waistline when away from home and the urge to eat on the go is strong.
"Typically, you tend to go to a pretty good restaurant, so eating healthy is just as easy as it is at home," Gonzalez said. "You’re eating at restaurants, but you can choose the right thing so it’s always an option for us.
"You always try to go to places that you know what you’re going to get."
It can be easy to fall into poor habits when on the road. As Gonzalez pointed out, the team usually stays at a hotel that offers easy options. For instance, the higher-end establishments that cater to major league baseball teams will often have a steakhouse or a reputable restaurant on site.
That is not always the case for those in other walks of life. The trucker, the traveling salesman, the cab driver — or even mom or dad transporting a young athlete to and from an evening little league game. Meals often have to come when convenient, but that doesn’t mean the right choice can’t be made.
"Planning ahead for these busy days, whether it be a long work day or going from one baseball practice to another is key," explained Elisabeth Moore, RD, a dietitian at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. "Trying to start something at home in the crock pot before leaving the house or packing a cooler of healthy snacks or sandwiches can help you to avoid unhealthy fast food."
Moore noted that when planning isn’t possible, most restaurants and even fast food places offer items lower in calories, saturated fat and sodium.
"If you can’t find something healthy, choose a small item off the menu to hold you over and then have something healthy when you get home," she suggested.
For Gonzalez, as established as they come, the days when those choices were extremely hard are long gone.
"Yeah, in the minors it was [difficult to eat healthy] just because the healthiest thing you can find is a Subway," he said. "In the minors, you’re eating at a lot of Denny’s and things like that."
Such a routine did help build the slugger we see today. However, his commitment to finding better options on a daily basis will help him down the road. And on it.