Originally published in Massage & Bodywork magazine, June/July 2005.
Packing your bags for a fun family trip, busy business excursion, or a glorious getaway doesn't have to spell disaster for your waistline. You can still relax in revelry knowing you can enjoy yourself without packing on the pounds--as long as you bring along a "can do" attitude.
The answer is as simple as knowing there are small changes you can make in your meal choices that can save you calories and pack your body full of nutrients. The single most important step in eating well when traveling is to take control of your diet.
The truth is many vacationers get overly relaxed about their health. According to a recent Harris Interactive survey, many travellers not only overeat, but they also eat less healthy foods. Sixty-seven percent of us finish our entrees always (or most of the time), according to the American Institute of Cancer Research. This is unfortunate since many restaurant portions bear little resemblance to the amount of food most people actually need.
The nonprofit Produce for Better Health Foundation, based in Wilmington, Del., teaches consumers that eating a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables is the key to healthy nutrition. Following are the foundation's tips for guilt-free meals on the go.
-Bring your own sandwiches and fresh fruit in a small cooler or picnic basket. Not only are you able to control what you eat, but you also save time and money.
-Keep an assortment of dried fruit handy for snacking. It will satisfy your sweet tooth while providing disease-fighting antioxidants. Better yet, make your own trail mix with dried fruit, mixed nuts, and sunflower seeds.
-Pack single servings of pre-cut baby carrots, celery, or bell peppers in resealable bags to snack on. Use small plastic containers to pack dips such as low-fat ranch dressing, peanut butter, or hummus.
-Freeze grapes the night before so they are chilled for the trip. They make great bite-size snacks and taste great with small cubes of low-fat cheese.
-For convenience, pick up prepackaged fruit slices or vegetables at the grocery store. Some even come in their own containers with utensils and dipping sauces. You can also buy peanut butter in a squeezable tube. It's great on apple slices or granola bars.
-Many fast-food restaurants offer fruit and vegetable options instead of fries. You can also usually request a fruit cup or side salad for an additional serving of fruits or vegetables.
-As an appetizer, order a salad with low-fat dressing or oil and vinegar.
-Switch from soda to low-fat milk or water, or experiment with various flavors of herbal tea.
-Opt for tomato juice, vegetable juice, or water on the airplane.
-Order a small fruit smoothie at the juice bar.
-Don't necessarily skip your favorite dessert or fried foods. Eat smaller portions of these foods, and make them treats, not regular menu items.
-Watch portion sizes. Share an appetizer or an entree, or choose two appetizers instead of an entree.
-Prepare half of your meal yourself, and snack on fruits and vegetables.
For more healthy eating advice, visit www.5adays.org.