Don’t Overpack The Calories On Vacation
By Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD
Vacations are great, and getting there can be half the fun, but traveling really disrupts your regular schedule, and you end up having most your meals out – which can lead to some serious out of control eating.
When I ask people who are watching their weight how they plan to handle things while they’re on vacation, they often tell me that they’re going to take a vacation from dieting, too. Whenever I hear that, my advice is always the same - plan ahead and try to stick with your usual foods and eating patterns. That way, you can come back from your trip without a lot of excess baggage.
Snacking while you’re traveling may help the miles fly by, and fast food pit stops may lure you in. But keep in mind that whether you’re in car, train or plane, when you spend long hours just sitting, you’re not burning a whole lot of calories.
The first rule is - don’t leave the house until you’ve eaten something. A bowl of cereal or a smoothie will take edge off your hunger until lunch time. If you’re driving, take a few minutes to pack some healthy sandwiches and fruit for lunch, so the drive-thru restaurants don’t call to you every time you stop. Pack some healthy snacks like protein bars, fruit, nuts, string cheese, or individual packs of baby carrots. This also works if you’re flying because it can be challenging to find healthy food at an airport.
And if you’re on a plane, forget about ordering the snack packs even the so-called “healthy ones” can top out at more than 600 calories.
Delayed flights are often part of the vacation experience. When this happens, instead of just sitting around and waiting or hanging out at an airport restaurant, try walking off some calories while you wait. You can get in a great walk at some airports - you can log a full mile at O’Hare in Chicago if you go to the end of each of the four concourses and back.
Staying hydrated is important in the summer heat, and also in the dry air on the plane. In fact, you’re supposed to drink a cup of fluid for every hour of flying. But if you’re chugging sodas or cocktails, you’re going to rack up a bundle of calories. So stick to water, iced tea or sports drinks instead, and watch your alcohol and caffeine intake.
If you’re staying in a hotel, ask if the mini bar is stocked when you check in. If it is, don’t even take the key. If it isn’t, great. You can pick up some fruit, cut veggies, yogurt and string cheese and keep them in the mini frig for snacks. I like to put some nonfat milk in there, too, and then pick up some healthy cereal so I can eat breakfast in my room. This brings me to my last point.
Watch yourself if your hotel offers complementary breakfast. It’s tempting to overeat when you’re not paying for the food, and even yogurt, bagels or cereal can add up if you eat more than you should.
Susan Bowerman is a paid consultant to Herbalife.