One thing that can quickly undo your hard work to lose weight and stay fit is eating on the road. You can’t always stay in a suite with a refrigerator or a small microwave, so eating out at restaurants or eating from the room service menu may be a necessity. There are fast food restaurants on nearly every corner across America. What can you do when donuts and coffee laid out in the hotel dining room are calling your name? Your next vacation or business trip does not have to result in packing on extra pounds. Eating healthy foods when you are traveling does not have to be difficult or time consuming. A little planning ahead, preselecting your dining options and asking questions can make travel dining easier and healthier.
Pack Your Snacks
Prepare your snacks ahead of time. A little preparation can help you avoid the candy and snack machine in hotels, airports and convenience stores. The day before you leave for your trip, chop up some fresh vegetables, such as celery, broccoli and carrots. Grab some grape tomatoes, too. Store your fresh vegetables in small Ziploc bags and enjoy the crunchy flavor of some fresh veggies while waiting in the airport terminal or during your plane ride. Apples, plums, cherries and blueberries travel very well and can easily be stored in Ziploc plastic bags. Be sure to check with your airline to make sure you can board with snacks. If you plan to drive to your destination, store fresh vegetables in plastic cups with lids so that you can use your car’s cup holders to hold your snacks securely in place while you drive. Include some whole grain crackers and low-fat cheese cubes for a healthy, filling snack that also gives you a boost of energy from healthy carbohydrates. Nuts, dried fruits and dried vegetables are a good alternative to fresh fruits and vegetables. Nuts are rich in nutrients and protein, but some may contain more calories than dried fruits. Don’t buy salted or honey roasted nuts. These can add extra sodium, sugar and calories to your diet. One serving of nuts is about the amount you can hold in one hand. Granola, protein and fruit snack bars contain lots of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Choose low-sugar or no sugar breakfast bars to snack on during the day. Select bars that have less than 12 grams of sugar and be mindful of the number of calories in each bar. Also make sure to keep up with how many bars you eat throughout the day. Many breakfast and energy snack bars contain about 100 calories each, though some may have as many as 350 calories. Check the nutrition information on the package and compare nutrients and calories before choosing your healthy snack bar.
Always Eat Breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of your day. Always start your day with a healthy breakfast. Eating a breakfast that includes whole grains, protein and nutrient-rich dairy foods gives you a boost of energy and jump-starts your metabolism. Your metabolism slows while you sleep because your body is not burning energy the same way it does when you are awake and active. Avoid the hotel breakfast buffet and stay away from the fast food places for breakfast. Locate a supermarket or health food store near your hotel or motel and stock up the mini-refrigerator with some low-fat milk and yogurt, fresh fruit and whole grains like granola. Breakfast shake drinks can also be a good choice, especially if you don’t have a refrigerator in your room, or if you are running late for an activity. Add some flavor and texture to your morning low-fat yogurt with granola and fresh fruit, such as blueberries. If you have to eat out for breakfast, choose a whole grain cereal with low-fat milk or a whole grain bagel.
Plan Restaurant Meals
Most hotels provide a restaurant and attraction guide in each room. Select restaurants that offer low-calorie and healthy meal choices. Resist the urge to order a pizza to eat in your room while watching television. Instead, select a restaurant within walking distance so that you can exercise on your way to dinner and get more exercise by walking back to your hotel. You’ll burn those extra calories by walking. Eating smaller portions can also help you control your calories while enjoying dinner at a restaurant. Try ordering half-size or child portions from a restaurant menu to cut down on the calories. You can enjoy the flavor of a delicious entree with about half the calories this way. If the full-size portion is your only option, resist the temptation to clean your plate. You can take leftovers back to your hotel room for later. Start each meal with a healthy vegetable appetizer or a salad. Ask your waiter to bring low-fat salad dressing and put it on the side. Order from the heart healthy menu, if possible. The heart healthy menu is usually low-fat, low-calorie and offers low sodium or no-sodium choices. Skip the condiments or opt for no-sugar jams and low sodium spreads. Don’t let the dessert cart tempt you to undo all the hard work you’ve done to keep your calorie count under control. Choose fresh fruit with low-calorie whipped cream or a fruit compote instead of cake or pie.
Pack a couple of bottles of water in your luggage and keep one handy in your carry-on bag, if your airline permits bottled water. Your body might interpret thirst as hunger, which can lead to extra snacking. Most hotels provide bottled water for guests, or you can stop by a local supermarket for water to keep in your room. Drink a large glass of water before and after each meal to help you feel more full and aid in digestion. If plain water seems boring to you, squeeze a slice of lemon in your water for extra flavor or drink zero-calorie flavored water. Avoid energy drinks since these are often loaded with caffeine and some contain a lot of sugar. Drink alcohol in moderation during your trip. Alcohol and drink mixes add a lot of calories to your diet. Resist the urge to have an alcohol drink from the hotel mini-bar. Order water or a diet soda to drink instead of having a cocktail during your flight.