Sticking to healthy eating while traveling is no easy task. Away from a regular cooking and exercise routine, temptation often sets in, putting a real dent in your diet. Rationalizing food choices, eating in excess and throwing moderation out the window, vacations are a quick way to pile on the pounds.
This summer vacation, don’t let your travel plans sabotage your health! Follow these tips to make the most of your summer vacation and ensure you stay healthy and energized all summer long.
Get packin’. Packing up for vacation isn’t just about picking out the right swimsuit and flip-flops. It’s the time to plan ahead for healthy food choices. Pack a small cooler with nutrient-rich snacks for the road. Choose ones that are easy transportable like bagged low-fat popcorn, sliced apples, fresh grapes and cherries, raisins and vegetable sticks with hummus. Keeping these healthy grab-n-go foods on hand will keep you satisfied while on the road.
Plan ahead. Just because you are on vacation doesn’t mean you have to avoid sticking to any type of routine. Plan out a day ahead of time where and when you will eat your meals. This will ensure you aren’t skipping meals, which often increases the likelihood of overeating later in the day and choosing less nutritious foods.
Sip smartly. Vacation time often means extended coffee and cocktail hours, however, caffeine and alcohol are sure ways to leave you dehydrated and running on empty. Take along a refillable, aluminum bottle on road trips and be sure to drink plenty of fluids before, during and after a flight. When it comes to eating out, make water your primary beverage. Sweetened soft drinks and sodas have added sugar, adding extra calories with no additional nutritional value. Water does a body good!
Stay in control. Traveling allows for less control over what and when you eat. Packing your hotel fridge or vacation home with nutritious foods, however, will increase your chances of eating healthy and prevent unplanned, unhealthy snacking. Make a trip to the grocery store on your first day of vacation and stock your pantry and fridge full of fresh produce and real foods. Stick to your typical eating habits as much as possible.
Go local. Forgo rest stop vending machines full of empty calorie snacks and opt for independent restaurants and cafes on the road. For a look at food stops with nutritious offerings, check out Healthy Highways: The Traveler’s Guide to Healthy Eating, which lists health food stores and vegetarian restaurants across the country. If fast food is your only option, check posted calories and opt for salads, grilled sandwiches, small burgers, yogurt and fresh fruit which are now showing up on menus at most of the fast food restaurants across the country. You may also choose Subway Fresh Fit meals, which feature a variety of 6-inch subs served with apple slices and water. These meals meet the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check Meal certification for nutritional criteria for levels of sodium, calories, cholesterol, saturated fat and trans-fats.
Stay active. Use vacation as a positive excuse to expand your exercise horizons. Get active in ways you never have before. Grab a bike and hit up a mountain trail or test your skills on a paddleboard or kayak. Consider taking a new class at a local gym or yoga studio. After introducing yourselves to new exercises, you may decide to bring these activities home and make them part of your weekly routine.
No matter what your destination may be, remember to not use a vacation as an excuse to be lazy and indulgent, but as an opportunity to try new activities and have fun. Make fit resolutions before hitting the road and enjoy a healthy and fun-filled vacation!
For more ideas on heart-healthy eating, check out The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009). My guidebook of tips makes healthy eating fun and more manageable. Connect with me online at @GeorgiaKostas and Facebook/Georgia Kostas Nutrition and visit:
This nutrition information does not address individual health conditions. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian to meet specific health and dietary needs.