Aliza Beer MS, RD, CDN
Summertime is usually vacation time. Given the current situation, however, many of us are choosing cars over planes, and those cars are full of kids that never made it to sleepaway camp! It’s easy to fall off the wagon when you are stuck in a car for hours on end. Even the best intentions of eating right can often fall by the wayside when we are tired, hungry, and can’t find any options besides gas station snacks, fast food restaurants, or vending machines.
Here are some easy ways to eat healthy, arrive at your destination feeling great, and return home the same weight!
- Plan Ahead: A successful week of healthy eating typically begins with menu planning. This is the best and first step in gearing up for a road trip. Plan the menu in advance – what you will be eating at every meal, and snacks, for each day. Consider how many meals and snacks will be needed for the car ride as well and bring a cooler, if necessary. Once your menu is set, now you can go shopping! If you are going away for an extended period of time, then consider bringing some travel appliances like a sandwich maker, egg poacher, George Forman grill, burner, and frying pan.
- Snack Attack: You will need snacks for the car and the vacation itself. Keep in mind planned activities such as hiking, biking, white water rafting, etc. Try to keep the car a sugar-free zone as much as possible. Look for snacks that contain both protein and fiber; this will help you feel full for longer. Some good ideas include: sliced apples with a low-fat peanut butter like PB2; oil-free hummus with cucumbers, celery or jicama sticks; pre-portioned baggies of freeze-dried fruit and nuts; high fiber crackers (like GG Bran Crispbread) with low-fat cheese; turkey-lettuce rollups; and high-fiber, high-protein, sugar-free protein bars like No Cow bars. Just in case, bring along some snack bags of low-fat popcorn and baked chips for any cranky kids.
- BYOF: Bring your own food! This is mandatory for non-kosher destinations, but what if you are heading to a town/city where there are kosher food establishments? Bring food for breakfasts and lunches. This will help you stick to a healthy eating plan.
Great breakfast options include high-fiber cereal, sugar-free oatmeal packets, non-fat Greek yogurt, and cottage cheese. The best lunches for a family vacation that involves lots of activities would be sandwiches and cut up veggies. Bring along high-fiber bread such as 647 bread, or wraps such as Ole or Trader Joe’s. Fill your wraps with lean proteins like tuna, turkey, grilled chicken, low-fat cheese, or eggs. Cut up veggies like cucumbers and peppers, or bring along sugar snap peas or canned baby corn.
For dinner, either pre-cook some chicken and fish before the trip, or grill daily on your vacation. Fresh salads or frozen microwavable bags of veggies will be the easiest and healthiest sides. If you will be going out to restaurants, then choose lean proteins like fish, chicken or a leaner cut of meat, and salads/roasted vegetables; always request salad dressing on the side so you have control over how much to put into the salad. Select foods that are baked or grilled instead of fried. Restaurant portions are typically too large, so consider either having an appetizer for dinner, or sharing an entrée with someone. Avoid the bread on the table, mashed potatoes, and your kids’ French fries!
- Hydrate: Drinking enough water is vital for staying healthy and feeling good. Water helps with digestion (usually an issue on vacation), fights fatigue, and can prevent headaches caused by dehydration. Bring a supply of water bottles or fill re-usable water containers and keep them easily accessible throughout your trip. Aim to drink a minimum of 64 ounces a day.
- Limit the Caffeine: Road trips usually mean more coffee to make sure we’re awake, especially if one is driving. Try to limit them to no more than two coffees a day. Extra caffeine will dehydrate you, and those vats are full of added sweeteners, calories, and junk.
- Exercise: If your vacation is not full of physical activity, then it is imperative that you incorporate some into every day. Go for walks; do mini workouts in your hotel room like lunges, squats, planks, crunches, and jumping jacks. If you will be going on lengthy car rides, schedule pit stops/bathroom breaks and take a few minutes to exercise then.
Utilize your vacation as a time to reset, recharge, and disconnect from life’s stresses, just don’t abandon your goals to achieve or maintain good health in the process. It is possible to eat healthy and still have a great vacation. Planning and preparation is crucial to the success of any event. And if you come across a treat that is just too tempting to pass up? Then mindfully indulge and enjoy it, and move on with your day! Don’t let these little indulgences undermine your past, present, and future accomplishments. Remember: you are in control of the food you eat, not the other way around!
Wishing all of my readers and clients a wonderful rest of the summer!
Categorised in: Health & Fitness