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- 4 Tips Healthy Eating on the Road
Monday, November 17, 2014
By: Total Nutrition Technology
Winter, summer, spring or fall, there is ALWAYS some reason that we have for traveling. Whether for business or pleasure, a short road trip or a long vacation, this can be a challenging time for your eating plan but it CAN be done with some knowledge and planning ahead.
1) WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR/ EATING OUT:
As you know, just like when you are eating in a restaurant at home, you need to watch out for the same things when you are eating in restaurants in other cities
- watch your portion sizes (you can probably split an entrée with family member or friends since you won’t be taking home left-overs)
- Look for low-fat preparation methods – grilled, steamed or broiled without butter, baked or stir-fry with minimal oil
- Choose lean meats and avoid cheeses (these will almost never be low fat cheeses in restaurants)
- Avoid sauces/gravies on dishes by asking for them on the side
- Ask for dressings on the side and don’t be afraid to ask for toppings that you don’t want (cheese, butter, sour cream, etc) to be left off of side dishes
- Watch out for foods described as “crispy”, “smothered”, “sautéed”, “au gratin”, “aioli”, or “crusted”
- Try a clear soup, salad with dressing on the side, shrimp cocktail or hummus and pita chips for an appetizer as opposed to most other choices as these will likely be fried foods or high-fat dips
Another thing that can derail your efforts is forgetting to eat every 3 hours. When we are not in our usual settings/environments and patterns, we tend to get off track but remember that skipping these snacks in between meals can often lead to excessive hunger and over-eating when the meal time does arrive so plan ahead to have your snacks with you (more on that in the next section)
Also, don’t forget about your water! Remember that our body gives off the same signals as hunger when we may really just be dehydrated so DO continue to make a good effort to get your recommended amount of fluid in each day even on vacation.
What if you are eating at a friend’s house and don’t have choices with the foods? The same rules apply as if you are eating out – try to avoid cheeses and sauces as much as possible as these are MAIN calorie /fat offenders in many dishes. If a higher-fat food is absolutely unavoidable, try to control your portions as much as possible and try to fill up on salad or other veggies being served (as long as they are not drenched in heavy sauces)
If there are hors d’ourves, again, try for the vegetable tray, shrimp cocktail or chicken skewers as opposed to those puff-pastry or fried pieces.
2) PLANNING AHEAD
Do some research! With the internet at our fingertips, it is often possible to look for surrounding restaurants ahead of time to get some good ideas about where to eat. Going one step further, it may even be possible to pull up the actual menu ahead of time and discuss with your health educator what options to pick when you are at that location – no guesswork involved J
Pack snacks! It is terrific if you are comfortable eating in restaurants and feel confident in your choices for meals but don’t forget about those snacks. Depending on where you are going, you might want to pack some of your favorite granola bars or other snack packs so that you can carry them with you. As mentioned above, one of the challenges is remembering to eat in between meals but the NEXT challenge is eating the best choice when you DO remember so bringing your own snacks along with you in your pocket or purse is the best way to avoid stopping in a store/booth/gas station for something that may be much higher in fat and sugar than you would really want to eat.
Practice eating out at home before you go! If eating in a restaurant is intimidating, you may want to try it a few times before you leave on your trip so you can practice making your food choices and then can discuss it with your health educator in your sessions before you go. As they say, practice makes perfect! If you don’t eat out often, you may be more tempted once you are actually IN the situation so doing this once or twice before you leave will help you make good choices and feel comfortable ordering menu items prepared in the manner that you prefer.
3) EATING WHILE TRAVELING
Airports can be particularly dangerous for weight-conscious travelers but healthy choices ARE available. Unfortunately they are often not as readily accessible as the pizzas, hot dogs, and other fast food items.
The best strategy is to travel with your own snacks by planning ahead. Look at the time of day you are going to leave your house…. Is it first thing in the morning? Will you have time for breakfast before you leave? Will you be able to grab lunch before you get on the plane? How long is the flight and will you need a snack during the flight? In order to be prepared, you need to first think about how long you will be away from your house/hotel so that you can pack as many snacks and/or meals as you will need.
Some great portable snacks are:
- Baggies of carrot sticks or other sliced vegetables
- Granola bars (Kashi, Nutrigrain, Health Valley, etc)
- Fresh fruit (like apples that won’t get squashed) or small portions of dried fruit (1/4 cup)
- 2 tsp peanut butter on 1 ½ sheets graham crackers
- String cheese stick and a small handful of reduced fat crackers
Remember, these snacks can be important not only while you are waiting in the airport, but also while you are on the flight!
But if you get caught in the airport without a stash of snacks on hand, create your own healthy meal or snack! It IS possible to buy fresh fruit, low fat yogurt and even low fat string cheese now in the Charlotte airport – cool! If you need a meal you could look for salads with some lean protein (but watch the fatty dressings) or a grilled chicken sandwich or turkey sandwich without cheese and bottled water, skim milk, or crystal light.
If you're on one of the increasingly rare flights that serve food, order a vegetarian meal or Kosher meal. You can also call ahead of time and advise the airline of any special dietary needs you have or ask if they have a lower-fat, or lower-cholesterol option available.
If you are taking a long road trip, consider packing a cooler with some fresh fruit, low fat string cheese snacks, lean deli meat sandwiches, baked chips or pretzels and plenty of fluid. YES, it is annoying to have to pull over for frequent bathroom breaks on the road but, not only is it good for your circulation to stop and stretch every few hours, it is important NOT to avoid drinking because that dehydration can fake you into thinking you are hungrier than you really are J
If you have exhausted your pre-packed snacks and are stopping at a fast food chain, remember the same restaurant rules apply, go for a grilled chicken sandwich (without mayo, dressing, cheese) and a side salad or fruit (almost every chain has some kind of fruit side dish now instead of fries) OR a grilled chicken salad without the higher-fat toppings (nuts, seeds, tortilla strips or Asian noodles, cheese and dressing) Again, most fast food chains will have a low fat dressing option AND most of these toppings come on the side so they are easy to omit. If you are at a deli-type of restaurant, stick to a small or 6-inch sub on whole wheat with lean ham or turkey, no cheese and no oil but load up on vegetables and maybe some baked chips or fruit on the side.
4) DON’T FORGET YOUR ACTIVITY!
If you haven’t booked your hotel yet, look for one that has some fitness facilities or group activities that you might like so that you can incorporate your workouts into your day.
If you’ve already booked a hotel, you will probably be able to look at your hotel ahead of time on the internet to check out their fitness facilities so it’s just up to you to remember to pack those sneakers and exercise clothes.
If being in a gym is not your idea of being on vacation, take a long walk on the beach or explore a new town (and try not to stop too often to shop J ) or even find some stairs or hills to walk/run up and down.
1) Make a list of 3 different snacks you will pack to prevent buying higher sugar/fat foods on the road.
2) Try to look up at least 1 restaurant you may eat in while on vacation and what your food choice would be