For many, Holidays = Travel. Travel = No Kitchen. No Kitchen = Road Food. Road Food = Well, you can see where this is going… Having recently traveled more than 6000 miles across the country and back, I’ve had quite a bit of time to ponder and reflect on the ins and outs of not going rogue on your good eating habits while traveling. Be it by train, car, airplane or sleigh.
That, ‘It’s okay, I’m on vacation,’ feeling comes on so easily when you sit down to your first ‘out of town’ meal. The frequent stops over for gas and the dazzling display of gas station junk (no need to even attach the word ‘food’ to that phrase) is enough to either make your mouth water, or your pancreas fail at first sight. Not to mention airports and fast food establishments, which have the insane ability to ignite hunger, despite being charged 3 times the price for lesser quality foods or having just eaten.
No matter your mode of travel or where you happen to end up for vacation, be it home or abroad, try to keep these tips in mind so as to not feel completely helpless and drenched in regret upon return, but rather coming back from your vacation as you should, feeling full of life, completely regenerated, and ready to take on the world!
1 – Prepare Your Road Maps: Whether you’re traveling by bus, train, plane, or car, make sure to plan ahead. Ensure that you’re aware of how long you’ll be commuting and have plenty of your ‘normal go to foods’ on hand for your trip. Typically, it’s not a lack of will power, or discipline that derails us; it’s most always a lack of planning. No matter how much you intend to ‘only make healthy choices’ during travel, without being armed with already on-hand good choices, it’s easy to fall victim to good marketing and product display.
Safe Travels Foods:
· Fresh Veggies: chopped veggies, whole carrots, cucumbers, mini bell peppers with hummus cups
· Whole fruit: Apples, citrus, pears, grapes, berries and bananas
· Avocados, sun dried tomatoes, olives
· Make your own trail mix: mixed nuts, dried berries, apple rings and banana chips
· Quick cook oats or whole grain cereal bags
· Plain Greek yogurt for dips and treats
· Assortment of teas and micro ground coffee
2- Proceed With Caution: Alright, so you’re on vacation, and maybe that means your vacationing from not only work and responsibilities, but maybe from your ‘regular eating and lifestyle habits too’. That’s cool, but set some boundaries. Know how often you plan to eat out. Know what restaurants might be better to stop at. Make sure you’re staying hydrated with plenty of water, and know how many treats or desserts you plan to enjoy. Making healthful choices isn’t about being perfect, it’s about being mindful. So when we choose good quality foods, we make the conscience decision to do so. Same goes for foods that aren’t so nutrient dense. When we decide to proceed, we proceed with caution.
3- Check Your Fluids: Just as your vehicle requires all fluid levels to be in check during travel, it’s easy to forget to stay hydrated when we’re on the go. One tip I make sure to share with all my patients, especially those who spend a lot of time on the road is the power of a reusable bottle or mug. Water or mostly water drinks (i.e. coffee, unsweetened tea, herbal tea, fruit infused water – hot or cold-, kombucha tea, etc.) are an essential part of staying healthy while traveling. Many times ‘huger pains’ are really a thirst sensation in disguise. Driving can also be boring for some so eating for entertainment could easily be replaced with a warm, calorie free, beverage that requires full attention. Keep a few tea bags stashed in the glove box and your travel mug filled up with warm water for these emergency situations.
4- Don’t Drink and Drive: For many, vacationing almost always means our guidelines for what’s a safe amount of alcohol to consume, goes out the window. Just incase you missed the memo – that’s 2 drinks per day for men, and 1 drink per day for women. What equals a drink? Typically, a 12oz. light beer (~4%ABV), 1oz hard liquor, or a 5oz pour of wine or champagne is considered a serving. Exceeding these amounts by the hour is exceeding our bodies ability to ‘detoxify’ or clear the alcohol from our system safely. In addition to not getting behind the wheel after imbibing, steer clear of any sugary mixers, salt rimmed glasses, or daiquiris that can easily rack up more empty calories than the meal you’re having it with.
5- hitch- Hike: Alright, I’m not encouraging that you rely on various modes of free transportation from strangers as a way to enjoy your vacation (although you very well could, that’s up to you), but this tip is more a play on words. When you’re on vacation, be sure that your activity doesn’t take a vacation too. Back to tip one where we discussed planning, just as you pick out the sights you would like to see or stores you plan to visit, make sure to incorporate activity into your travels as well.
· Walking around the airport during layovers
· Stopping into national, state or local parks on road trips, or
· Planning a walking or biking tour of the city you’re visiting
· May airports offer yoga to passengers these days, and yoga studios in big cities offer discounts to first timers.
While vacationing and traveling isn’t a part of everyday life, it’s a part of life in general for most people. Embracing the fact that while we may not be in our regular routine, we still have the ability to stay on track and avoid having to dig ourselves back out of a slump once the vacation comes to a close. I enjoying sharing tips from my personal and shared experience, but love even more to hear how you stay on course during vacationing and holidays. Comment, tweet, or post below the strategies you use during the holidays.