25 Essential Tips for Eating Healthy on Vacation

It’s summer vacation time, and that means travel and access to a great deal of unhealthy food. I know. I’ve been on three trips already this summer, and I’ve still got two more to go. It seems unfair: You work so hard to get rid of those pounds from the winter holidays, and then your summer vacationing somes and ruins all your effort. The good news is that it is possible to eat healthy when you are vacation. It may take a little planning and some extra effort, but it is worth the trouble. Here are 25 tips for eating healthy while on vacation:

Healthy Eating Tips While Flying

800px-ba_airline_mealMost years, my family flies to New York to see my husband’s parents. However, the food you get at an airport — and even on the airplane — is not known for its nutritional quality. However, it is possible to increase the healthfulness of your eating even on an airplane.

  1. Eat a healthy meal or snack before you leave. For shorter flights, you can eat a healthy meal at home, and then have no need of the food offered at the airport. Even for a longer flight, eating a healthy meal or healthy snack prior to arriving at the airport can mean that you aren’t as tempted to purchase something at the airport.
  2. Pack your own healthy snack. Rather than relying on airline food, bring your own snack. Fruit, granola and whole grain crackers are all excellent options that do not require refrigeration. Plan ahead and carefully think about the type of healthy snack pack you want to put together.
  3. Ask about alternatives. Many airlines offer alternatives to the “regular” meals and snacks. Find out whether or not your flight offers an alternative food tray. Many airlines have lower-calorie options and a greater variety of snacks. Of course, you may have to pay extra for these options.
  4. Buy water before you get on the airplane. You probably know that certain liquid items are prohibited on airplanes. You won’t be able to bring your own bottle of water on the plane, but you can buy one in the terminal in order to remain hydrated. Beware of airline water, though. Water on airplanes has been contaminated in the past.
  5. Stay away from the alcohol. While it may be tempting to enjoy a little in-flight drink, alcohol can dehydrate you. It is especially important when traveling to remain well-hydrated, so you should avoid alcohol, which will contribute to loss of moisture in your body.
  6. Bring something to do. You will be less tempted to eat unhealthy foods if you have something to do. Many of us eat when we are bored. So, make sure you are occupied. Even when you are in the terminal, bring a book, a movie, music or some other activity to enjoy so that you are not tempted to head to the nearest Cinnabon and eat instead. (It also helps to have something for the kids to do on the plane as well.)

Healthy Eating Tips While on a Road Trip

The nice thing about a road trip is that you have a better chance of finding someplace that you want to eat that is healthier. However, there are some stretches where your choices are limited. Plan your route, though, and you will be more likely to find healthy food along the way.

  1. Plan to visit farmers markets. You can find farmers markets in a number of cities these days. Local Harvest is a Web site that offers information on where you can go to find locally grown foods. See if your route intersects any farmers markets, and find out the hours. Then you enjoy fresh (and healthy) foods on your trip.
  2. Pack a cooler. You can actually load up a cooler with sandwich fixings and other healthy foods. It can also keep your (healthy) drinks colder. When you bring your own food, you are more likely to maintain your healthy eating habits.
  3. Go to the grocery store. Instead of relying on the gas station, or the restaurants near the hotel, head into to town and look for the local grocery store. You will have a larger selection of healthy options at the store.
  4. Look for healthy options. Anymore, you can usually get a salad at any restaurant or gas station. Look for the healthiest options that you can. Look at food labels at gas stations and at grocery stores.
  5. Stay away from soda. It’s tempting to buy a soda, but remember that soda calories can be hard on your health. Even diet sodas have that fake sugar that may not be as healthful. Water is a better option to help you stay hydrated.
  6. Get good sleep. It may seem odd to consider sleep as an essential to healthy eating while on a road trip, but it is. And, being naturally alert will mean less of a need for energy drinks that may not have the best health benefits.
  7. Pull over. Instead of eating while driving, pull over. You will digest better if you get a chance to walk around a little bit and stretch your legs. Plus, it can give you a little bit of natural energy.

Healthy Eating Tips for Eating Out

Inevitably, despite your best efforts, chances are that you will have to eat out at a restaurant at some point. While you are likely to take in more calories while eating out, there are some things you can do to eat a little healthier while at the restaurant.

  1. Avoid the “special” sauce. At a restaurant, the “special” sauce usually comes on a meal that is loaded with calories of little nutritional value. Also avoid fried or battered foods.
  2. Scour the menu for healthier options. Buzzwords on restaurant menus that indicate something of better health include steamed, broiled and grilled. Ask for the mixed veggies instead of the fries. Some restaurants will even identify the healthy choices on the menu.
  3. Get water with lemon. Instead of getting a soda or some other high calorie drink (it’s never a good idea to drink your calories), ask for water. If you want a little flavor, ask for it with lemon. It adds a light, refreshing taste.
  4. Ask for a smaller portion. Many restaurants will provide you with a half portion or a lunch portion if you ask. This can help you reduce your caloric intake. You can also split a meal, although some restaurants will charge you a couple of dollars if you plan to split something.
  5. Get an appetizer. Appetizers are often smaller than regular meals. Order an appetizer and then ask that it come with the meal. The same is true of a side. Perhaps order a small appetizer and a side salad or soup, instead of getting an entree.
  6. Stop eating. I know we’ve been told to clean our plates, but it is not always healthy. Eating beyond the point that you feel satiated is not a good way to enjoy good health. Just stop and let the server take your food away.
  7. Take some of it with you. Instead of eating everything, have it boxed to take with you. You can eat for lunch tomorrow. Just be careful to make sure that it is properly refrigerated if necessary. Leftover safety is important when you travel.

Healthy Eating: Indulge

Even though you want to eat healthy while you travel, you are on vacation. And you still want to indulge. And that’s okay. Just remember to indulge in moderation. Here are some tips for indulging:

  1. Consider healthy desserts. There are some healthy desserts, believe it or not. Look for restaurants that offer seasonal fare, and you are more likely to see desserts made from fruit and with other healthy ingredients.
  2. Get the child portion. If you go to get ice cream or some other dessert, ask for the child portion instead of a large portion. It will have fewer calories.
  3. Share. Instead of getting a dessert all to yourself, share it. That way, you each get fewer calories. While you may not be eating a healthy dessert, at least you’re eating less of it.
  4. Look for local specialties. Is there a special food that your current location offers? Give it a try! After all, you are trying to enjoy something different. If it’s especially sinful, share it amongst yourselves.
  5. Get a little exercise. Try to get in a little exercise while you are vacation to balance the extra calories you are getting (and clear out the arteries a little). You can do this by doing some active sight-seeing (walking tours, museums, etc.) or by hitting the hotel gym or swimming laps.

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