Healthy Eating Tips for Your Vacation

IMG_2032Prime summer vacation time is here.  You just spent the last 6 weeks getting fit and trim to look great in your new bathing suit.  It was hard work and well worth it!  Now, while on vacation, how can you maintain the results achieved?  Besides staying active on your holiday, eat as healthy as you can.

There are a number of things you can do to resist temptations, make wiser food choices, and to prepare healthy meals while on vacation.  Read on for our suggestions.

Travel time

IMG_3148Right from the minute you leave your house, the temptation begins!  Whether traveling by airplane or car, the time spent getting to your destination can be high munch time.  Keep yourself busy doing crossword puzzles, reading, planning your vacation activities, or anything to distract you from excessive snacking.

Pack healthy snacks for the trip like veggies, hummus, hard boiled eggs, individual-portioned nuts and seeds.  Avoid the chips and other high fat foods.  For long journeys, bring a nutritious lunch.  Knowing that you have a meal coming can help you resist snacking.

listIf traveling by airplane, bringing a lunch and snacks is also a good idea as most foods sold on board or at the airport are full of sodium and preservatives.  Keep in mind that if you are traveling across the Canadian-US border or internationally, you will need to check what foods are allowed across.  For instance, when going to the U.S. from Canada, prohibited foods may include meats, fruits, and vegetables, depending on where they were grown.  Customs and border crossing personnel may confiscate food that is prohibited.  We recommend that you eat a good meal before heading on a plane and bring some healthy pre-packaged snacks like no-salt nuts, good quality protein bars, mini-carrots or anything that is sealed by the manufacturer.

Restaurant meals

IMG_2566For many people, vacations mean exploring new restaurants to taste the local cuisine and enjoy the wines.  This practice is fine as long as you plan your calorie and nutrition intake for the day.  Eating at a restaurant every day for every meal can add more calories than your Calorie Counter App can handle!

Know how many total calories you can have per day to maintain your current weight and think about how to spread them out.  Be sure to choose nutrition-dense foods like salmon rather than empty calories like french fries.  If you are planning to go to a special restaurant one evening, then have a lighter breakfast and lunch that day.  Skip the afternoon happy hour drink at the pool.

Before going to a restaurant, check their menu and the nutritional values of their meals posted online to decide what to order before arriving.  If you know the nutritional value of meals and plan ahead, you are more likely to order a meal that is more nutritious.  In addition, most good restaurants will modify how meals are prepared to suit the customer’s needs.    Ask the server to substitute starchy sides for additional vegetables, hold the sauce on your entree, or put the salad dressing on the side so you can control the quantity.

Portion sizes can be very large at some restaurants.  In such cases, plan to share a meal with someone in your party, order an appetizer instead of a meal, or ask the server for an extra plate where you can place one serving of your meal and save the rest to take away with you.

Drink water instead of sugary drinks or alcohol with your meals.  If you’ve saved your wine for the meal then have just one glass!  Choose wine instead of specialty drinks like margaritas or pina coladas.

In the U.S., there is a Menu Labeling Law that requires large chains with 20 or more restaurants to label the calories of meals on their menus, and to provide in written format more details of nutritional information about these meals when requested by the customer.  Many other establishments are covered by the law (supermarkets, vending machines, and convenience stores); however, these establishments have not complied as they are fighting the law.  There are no excuses for choosing well.  When you visit a McDonald’s Restaurant, you will see the calorie count right on their menu boards in the US.  The nutritional values are also printed on the back of their placemats (US, Canada, and probably around the world).  Starbucks has a “Nutrition by the Plate” pamphlet readily available in each store and also label the calories next to the prices of their food (US and Canada).

Cook your own simple, healthy meals

If you are vacationing at a cottage or have a kitchen in your hotel room, cook as many meals as you can, instead of eating out.  The meals can be simple and quick to prepare, with a minimum number of ingredients.  A little prep in the morning can save you time at dinner.  For instance, marinade beef or chicken in the morning for use that night.  While cooking the beef or chicken in the evening, prepare a salad and add some raw veggies with hummus on the side.

If you prefer to have dinners out, then stock up on breakfast and lunch foods so you can prepare two of the three meals.  This practice will save you both money and calories.

IMG_3149Before heading on vacation, prepare a nutritious meal plan for the trip and include recipes.  Bring from home the spices and other essentials that you need to make those meals.  Buying these items at the destination can be time consuming and costly.  In addition, if you have these essentials on hand, you will be more likely to prepare the meals.

If traveling by airplane, consider checking a piece of luggage exclusively with food from home.  Be sure to pack items well and freeze food so it stays fresh for the trip.  Thanks, Laurie, for this great idea!  Laurie stayed on track with her healthy eating by taking all kinds of food on her most recent holiday.

Snacking and alcohol

Snacks and happy hour drinks can be the highlight of vacations!  Remember that alcohol may increase your desire to munch.  Order healthier appetizers to share or enjoy a small salad with your drink.  Stop there!  If you had more than you planned, then skip dinner, drink water, and have a healthy, small snack before bed.

snacksIf you like to snack at the beach, lake, pool, hiking or during whatever activity you enjoy on your vacation, then choose healthy snacks and limit the amount you eat.  For example, count out the number of almonds to eat and store them in a small container to bring along with you.  If bringing packaged protein bars, read the labels and be sure that they are snack bars and not meal replacements.  These meal replacements eaten on top of your regular meals can sneak in more calories than expected.

Finally, on occasion during the vacation, relax and enjoy an indulgent meal or your preferred alcoholic beverage without feeling guilty!  Make up the gain one day by eating well the rest of the holiday.

Recipe of the Week:  Artichoke Spinach Mini Frittata

About aspireperspirenourish

We are sisters who share a passion for healthy living! Each of us brings different knowledge and skills to this project, some similar experiences and a whole lot of shared passion for mindful, fit and nutritious living. This blog is our way of spreading our knowledge and passion about motivation, fitness and nutrition for everyday living. It is also our forum for finding like-minded people from whom we can learn. To learn more about us, please see our "About" page.
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