Fitness Facts: Eating healthy while traveling
By Connie Colbert
Director, Canyon Health and Wellness Clinic
Do you find it hard to eat healthy while you are traveling? Do you generally gain weight or not feel your best while on the road? Here are a few tips that can help you overcome food obstacles.
Making better food choices will have a positive impact on your leisure time. As athletes know, healthy food and plenty of water sustain your energy levels, fuel your muscles and help you recover quickly. The food you eat on the road will serve as your traveling first-aid kit.
- Preparation is the key! If you do not prepare ahead of time, you will be stuck with what is available.
- If you do one thing, try to eat your daily requirement of vegetables. You will find less room for the stuff that is not as good for you.
- If you need to stop to eat, go to a grocery store instead of a fast food restaurant. Your fast food choices often are limited, but a grocery store has many healthy choices.
- Invest in a cooler and ice pack when you travel. Fill it with healthy food, such as vegetables with hummus, fresh fruit or grilled chicken. Remember to pack water to keep you hydrated.
- Speaking of water, drink lots of it! The body needs water to function. Drinking plenty of water will flush your body of toxins, keep your skin fresh and help you eat less. It also will help you avoid travel lag and symptoms of overexposure to the heat or sun, and it will minimize junk-food cravings. Many of the unhealthy cravings we experience on the road can be satisfied with a refreshing drink of water.
- Don’t drink your calories. This means limiting sugary high calorie drinks such as juice, soda and energy drinks. Also, limit alcohol consumption.
- If you are staying at a hotel and there is a grocery store nearby, pick up healthy items to have in your room. Avoid highly processed items such as canned food. Read labels to minimize sugar.
- Use your best judgment at the hotel continental breakfast. Avoid pastries and baked goods. Choose simple, whole food options. Fresh fruit, yogurt and oatmeal are good ways to start your day. A little egg for a protein source can benefit you as well.
- Avoid juice and high sugar drinks. They will zap your energy quickly.
- If you choose a carbohydrate, go for the ones with whole grains and fiber such as a wheat bagel. Add a little peanut butter for protein and sustained energy.
- Choose the healthy alternatives when eating at restaurants and rest stops.
- If stopping at a rest stop, choose foods that are high in fiber and protein – mixed nuts, fresh fruit, protein bars, etc. Again, check labels and keep the sugar to a minimum. Often, labels that read low fat or all-natural are full of sugar. Many manufactures claim low fat, low calories but actually add more sugar to replace the fat. The fat, as long as it is not trans fat, can be very beneficial to help sustain your energy.
- If eating at a fast food restaurant, always choose grilled items and avoid high calorie salad dressings. Choose the apple slices in place of the fries! Resist the urge to upsize your meals!
- Avoid crispy chicken and french fries.
- If you have the option of a sub sandwich restaurant, choose whole grain bread or flatbread, add lean meat such as turkey or chicken and load up on as many vegetables as you want. Limit high fat condiments, dressings and cheese. Choose a healthy side over a cookie or chips.
- Skip the combo meals and drink water!
- Carry healthy snacks with you and do not starve yourself. The hungrier you get and the longer you go between meals, the more apt you are to make poor food choices.
- Most importantly, enjoy yourself and don’t put yourself on a crazy diet regimen, then beat yourself up if you cannot stick to it. Cut yourself a little slack and indulge occasionally. A little indulgence is also a part of a healthy diet. It is all a balance!
If you eat healthier and make wise food choices, you will have more energy to enjoy your vacation time!