Healthy Choices While Traveling

IMG_1117Oftentimes, it is difficult to make healthy choices while traveling. The key to keeping to a healthy, balanced eating regimen is planning ahead. It is much easier to give in to poor food choices when you haven’t eaten for hours and most likely have hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

Pack nutrient dense snacks such as fruit and nut trail mix or all natural granola to avoid hunger pains between meals, which will also help manage your appetite and the amount of food you consume at your next meal.  If you have a layover, do your best to find the best eating choices. Luckily, many of the larger airports such as Houston’s George Bush and Chicago’s O’Hare have been working to provide healthier options for travelers.

At Your Hotel

IMG_1135We all know that on vacation we suddenly have the urge to splurge more than usual. Just because it’s time to relax, does not mean you need to throw your healthy choices out the window! Once you are at your hotel there are a few ways that we can make sure we are eating right. Refusing the key to the mini bar can prevent unhealthy snacking. Bring your own “healthy mini bar alternatives” from home, such as fresh or dried fruit, unsalted nuts, KIND nuts and spices bars, whole wheat pretzels, flax crackers,  plain instant oatmeal, or a zip lock bag of Kashi high fiber cereal. At home, if you have access to a dehydrator, you can even make your own instant soups to bring with you.

IMG_1216You can still enjoy room service, however it is important to ask about ingredients and preparation details (oil, butter, cheese, added salt or sugar, etc.). Most hotels will be more than accommodating to your dietary needs and restrictions. If breakfast is included, go for a green smoothie or the eggs / egg white veggie scramble. The yolk contains essential fatty acids that will help with blood sugar control, energy and satiety level. Steel cut oatmeal with fresh blueberries and sprinkled cinnamon, chopped nuts is also a healthy option.

Many hotels offer a swimming pool for swimming laps or fitness center which make for a great morning workout.  Make sure you hydrate pre and post workout! It is very easy to become dehydrated while traveling. Carry an eco-friendly water thermos on the plane to refill throughout your vacation.

Dining Out

Asian restaurants often have a large range of healthy entrees.  Fresh sushi or raw sashimi is a great source of lean protein and omega 3 fatty acids (salmon, tuna, trout, etc.). Many cafe’s include a half soup and half sandwich or salad combo, which can make for a very balanced and satisfying lunch! If you’re at the salad bar, choose a high-quality bed of mixed greens, kale or spinach if possible, and then load the veggies on top! Limit added croutons, bacon, anything fried, cheese, and heavy salad dressings, because most pre-bottled dressings are full of  calories, fat and high fructose corn syrup. It is best to go for a simple dressing of oil and vinegar with a squeeze of lemon.

IMG_1148When reviewing a menu, look for entrees that are baked, broiled, grilled, high-fiber, roasted, steamed, stir-fried, or include whole wheat or gluten free high fiber options (quinoa). You can modify your meal by choosing healthier side dishes. For example, when eating something that is served with a side of rice, ask for brown rice instead. Be careful of misleading phrases such as fat-free, reduced fat or sugar, or “light”. Oftentimes, to make a food “light” or reduced fat”, ingredients such as salt or sugar are added in to compensate.

Portion Control

Portion control is key to a weight maintenance. Order a salad to start. The roughage will fill you up, and you will not eat as much of your meal. Order an appetizer instead of an entree (this will save room in your stomach and in your wallet!). Order an entree and eat half and take the rest home. Do not feel obligated to consume everything on your plate. The “clean plate club” is not always applicable (this applies more to children who need to consume more vegetables and a “rainbow of colors” in their diet). If you are able to follow these simple tricks of the trade, you will find yourself coming home in just as good of shape as you left in. Enjoy and happy traveling this summer!!

Guest blog by Cole Millen; Edited by Courtney Walberg, RD, NASM-CPT, Founder of Nutrition For Body and Mind