Healthy Eating Tips for Holiday Traveling
Traveling for the holidays? Airports, train stations, bus terminals and service stations along the freeway don’t exactly have the healthiest food choices. This can make it pretty difficult to stick to your diet when you’re on the road. Rushing between flights, trains, buses or making quick pit stops on the highway can cause you to make hasty, unhealthy food choices. It’s easy to give up your diet or at least healthy eating when you’re traveling. And then, once you reach your destination, you’re in a new place, unfamiliar with what’s around and have no idea where to get food. If you’re staying in a hotel it can be quite tempting with a mini bar stocked full of alcohol, candies, cookies, and other snacks full of empty calories. Whether you’re traveling for work, the holidays or are just always on the go, you can maintain a healthy diet with some simple planning and strategizing. Here are some tips on how to stick with your diet while traveling.
- Do Your Research! Before your trip, find out where the local grocery store is and plan to make it one of your first stops. If you are staying at a hotel, check to see if you will have a refrigerator in your room that you can stock with fruits, vegetables and other healthier alternatives to the items usually found in the mini bar. If your hotel room doesn’t have a refrigerator and you are driving to your destination, bring a cooler with you to hold healthy cold items. Also, look up the local restaurants in the area. Most restaurants have their menus posted online so you can see what exactly they have and what your options are.
- Come Prepared! Stock your suitcase or carry-on with healthy snacks such as nuts, nut butter sandwiches, trail mix, pumpkin or sunflower seeds, dried fruit, kale chips, tuna packets, granola, oatmeal packets and bottles of water. These are great snacks you can eat on the go and healthier, cheaper substitutions for the unhealthy, overpriced airport/airplane food, food at the train/bus station or food at the 711 on the freeway. Plus any extras you can eat throughout your trip as well as on your way back home. If you are driving to your destination, as I stated before you can bring a cooler packed with bottles of water, fresh fruit, veggies and hummus, sliced turkey and greek yogurt. This way you won’t be tempted by the chips, candy bars and soda at the service station or convenience store when you stop for gas.
- Stay Hydrated! Drink plenty of fluids during your trip. This will help to curb your appetite as well as keep you well hydrated. As always water is the best option. Try to avoid soda and alcohol. Avoiding these beverages can help to minimize jet lag.
- Choose the Breakfast of Champions! You may have breakfast at the hotel restaurant or the continental breakfast bar. Or, if you’re still on the road your options may be from the food isle of a gas station. Try to choose high fiber, high protein foods to help you feel full and satisfied and give you the energy you need for the rest of the day. If you’re at a hotel go for fruit. Almost all continental breakfast bars offer fruit. You can add it to a bowl of oatmeal with nuts, greek yogurt with granola or have it with some hard boiled eggs. Some places may also have omelets. Choose an omelet filled with veggies (skip the cheese) with a side of whole wheat toast instead of a stack of pancakes soaked in butter and syrup. Try to avoid high carb, sugar packed muffins, bagels, pastries, croissants, and sweet cereals. Also, hold the greasy hash browns that typically come with eggs and ask for some fruit on the side instead. Stay clear of juice as well. Even fresh squeezed orange juice is packed with sugar. Choose coffee (with minimal milk and sugar), tea or water instead. If your only choices are from the service station along the freeway, choose a few healthy snacks to make a meal. Nuts with dried fruit and yogurt would be a good option. Avoid the pre-made hot breakfast sandwiches, donuts and sweet-rolls.
- Have a Game Plan! If you do end up getting stuck eating at the airport or train/bus station have a plan. Stick with the basics. Customize your own sandwich made with lean meats, lots of veggies and whole grain bread. Choose broth based soups. Select salads with different vegetables, lean meat topped with vinegar and olive oil. Avoid anything pre-made, such as pre-made sandwiches or hot meals as they can have a lot of hidden, unhealthy ingredients.
- Don’t Forget Your Veggies and Protein! Wherever you are, whether it’s a restaurant, a family or friend’s house or your hotel room, make sure to make up the majority of your meals with lean protein and vegetables. Not only are these choices healthier since they are packed with protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber, but they are also filling which will decrease the temptation to choose the less healthy options.
- Keep Moving! Whether you’re enduring a long airline flight or hours in the car, make a point to get up and move around every hour or so even if it only includes some walking and stretching. While on your trip use the gym in your hotel. If your hotel does not have a gym or you are staying with friends, contact the local box or gym to inquire about daily or weekly rates (depending on how long you will be staying). Staying active will help keep you feeling good and burn off the extra calories from any indulgences you may have during your trip. It will also make you feel less inclined to overindulge. I don’t know about you guys, but on the days I workout I am more likely to stick with my diet than on the days I don’t.
- Have Some Self Control! Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you can have a free-for-all. Avoid the mindset of indulging just because you’re away or at a restaurant. Yes, it’s the holidays and you are on vacation so indulging a little here or there is ok. If you want to enjoy something you don’t typically eat then go for it! Just don’t go crazy and do it every day.
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This Week’s Recipe: Cauliflower Mashed “Potatoes”
Try this healthier, low carb alternative for traditional mashed potatoes.
- 1 head cauliflower
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 leek, white only, split in 4 pieces
- 1 tbsp soft-tub margarine, non-hydrogenated
- Pepper to taste
- Break cauliflower into small pieces.
- In a good-sized saucepan, steam cauliflower, garlic and leeks in water until completely tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.
- While cauliflower is hot, puree until the vegetables resemble mashed potatoes. (Use a food processor, or if you prefer a smoother texture, use a blender. Process only a small portion at a time, holding the blender lid on firmly.)
- Add a little hot water if vegetables seem dry.
- Stir in margarine and pepper to taste.