Eating well is a challenge when you travel, especially around the holidays. You’re surrounded by unhealthy foods loaded with sugar, fat and calories. And I’m not just talking about the parties, restaurants family gatherings. It starts from the moment you leave your house. You grab something quick to eat at the airport without giving it much thought. You haven’t left town yet and before you know it you’re off to a less than stellar start. If you’re like me then you’ll want to have a solid plan in place to help you beat the holiday bulge. These tips will guide you to make better, healthier food choices while on the road. And if you haven’t already, be sure to check out Travel Tips Part 1; Staying Fit While on the Road.
Whether you’re traveling by plane, train or automobile; pack healthy snacks for your trip. Fast food options may be convenient but they are usually processed and loaded with sugar, fat, and calories, not to mention unnecessary additives and preservatives. Before you leave home pack fresh fruit such as bananas, apples or grapes to snack on. Bring homemade trail mix (my personal favorite is raw unsalted almonds with raisins and dark chocolate chips) or an all natural granola bar. Make yourself a healthy sandwich for the road. Chances are the food you pack will be a better choice than what you will find at the airport.
Stay well hydrated
You’ll want to stay well hydrated when you travel, especially when flying. Lack of humidity on the plane can leave you feeling lethargic and depleted of fluids. Be sure to drink plenty of water before you head to the airport. Limit your intake of high salt foods and alcohol; they will only make matters worse. More often than not, dehydration is mistaken for hunger which unfortunately leads to unnecessary snacking. When you feel the urge to snack have a tall glass of water first, wait a few minutes and then decide if you’re still hungry.
Be conservative with your calories
You don't have to dine out for every meal. Spare extra calories where you can. Make your accommodations at a B&B or somewhere with a kitchenette. Before checking-in go to the grocery store and stock up on healthy breakfast options such as whole grain cereals, English muffins, yogurt and fruit. Buy whole wheat bread, cheeses and low-sodium deli meats and make sandwiches for lunch. If you are staying with relatives, email your grocery list in advance to be sure that you have some healthy food choices during your stay. I’m sure your host won’t mind. After all you are their guest.
Be smart about your choices
Dining out can easily amount to more than a full days worth of calories in just one sitting. Do your research and scope out your options. Find a restaurant that offers better choices. If you don't see healthy dishes on the menu, ask the server to have your meal prepared special. You’ll want your food steamed, roasted or boiled. You should avoid foods that are fried or creamed as they are loaded with unhealthy fat and calories. Most importantly watch your portion size. Restaurants tend to serve you twice the amount you actually need to feel satisfied. Eat half of what's on your plate and take the rest home in a doggy bag. Or better yet, split the meal with someone in your party. I like to order tapas (small plates). The portions are small, you get to sample a variety of dishes, and the food usually isn't served all at once. This encourages you to take your time and savor your meal. It takes 20 minutes for your brain to recognize that your stomach is full. As a result eating slower will often lead to eating less.