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Don’t Let Travel Derail Your Diet!

Life is meant for living, and we should be able to travel without the spectre of extra inches added to our waistline.  We can and should enjoy our holidays, and trying new things – including food – CAN be a part of it.   Here are a few simple tips to keep in mind as you prepare:

CalorieKing Travel Tips

  • Make a daily plan. If you choose to splurge somewhere just keep in mind where you are going to make it up – either through diet or exercise. Before leaving, use the CalorieKing Food Database to study the calorie content of common foods you are likely to encounter along the way.  You can find healthier options – even at fast food chains.
  • Don’t forget to log – even it if is on a piece of paper. Calorie amnesia will get you into trouble.  Logging and accountability is likely to make you think twice before indulging in huge portions or higher calorie options.

On The Road

A boxed lunch is a good idea, but it doesn’t have to be greasy, fried, or bad for you! Plenty of foods make an interesting and healthy snack box for the road.

Dried fruit – Get adventurous! Dates and raisins aren’t the only dried fruits around. Try unsweetened apricots, pears, apples, papaya, and mango. Dried banana is also delicious, but avoid banana chips as these are cooked in oil and are high in saturated fat. Also avoid fruit leathers as these have added sugars.

Fresh fruit – Apples, oranges and grapes make the best traveling fruits as they don’t bruise easily, but if you plan on eating your fruit early in your journey try plums, pears or bananas as well. And of course, if you’re feeling extra hurried, you can buy precut apples in bags!

Nuts & seeds –Nuts make a great snack for the road as they’re extremely filling. Raw nuts are your healthiest option, but roasted, unsalted nuts are also a good choice.

Snack bars – Not all “nutrition” bars are nutritious so make sure you read the labels before you choose. Names like “Xtreme Cookies & Cream” should also indicate the not-so-wise choices!

Baby carrots – Whether or not the rumor that these little guys are actually cut from full-size carrots is true, a bag of baby carrots is a great snack-in-the-box food.

Cheese – Surprisingly, some cheeses keep very well for a day without refrigeration. Choose gouda, string cheese, feta, and other cheeses that are not likely to sweat. Wrap them tightly in cloth or fabric. (And if you really want your “Jack” in the box – pack some Monterey Jack string cheese!).

Peanut butter and bread sticks – Take the jar or fill a mini plastic container. Ziploc a few mini-toasts or bread sticks for dipping, and you’ve got a snack fit for any peanut-butter-nutter! Other nut butters like almond or cashew are also good.

Tuna lunch-packs – Starkist make healthy tuna lunch packs that have tuna, relish, and crackers all in one package.

Water – No need to stop for gallon-loads of soda if you’ve packed water beforehand. If it’s warm out, try freezing a few bottles before you go – they’ll melt through the day, but keep cold. Don’t forget to leave an inch or so in the tops of the bottles before you freeze them.

If you’re on the road for more than a few hours, a snack box won’t necessarily satisfy your hunger for a meal. But there are options other than a burger and fries for the hungry.

Deli Wraps – Supermarket delis and salad bars provide a great way to grab a healthy and fast lunch or dinner – just stay clear of mayo-loaded dishes which are high in calories and fat. Try a salad or some of the following deli foods with a loaf of your favorite bread and finish up with some fresh fruit:

  • Low-fat deli salads such as tabouli, three-bean salad, Mediterranean salad, green salads
  • Hummus and pesto spreads
  • Marinated vegetables such as bell peppers and mushrooms
  • Olives
  • Lean-cut deli meats
  • Falafel

Picnic Perfect – Roadside picnic areas, especially those near rivers or lakes, provide a priceless way to picnic – whether on the cheap or in gourmet style. They’re also a great place for cooped up kids (and adults) to let off some steam and run around. Any of the deli-style or snack foods mentioned above make good picnic foods, and if you’re using a cooler you can pre-pack those foods that keep better under refrigeration. Other good picnicking foods when you’re on the road include:

  • Canned fish
  • Cold quiche (keep it low-fat)
  • Crisp breads and crackers
  • Pre-cut fruit salads
  • Pita breads and bean dips
  • Thermos® of hot soup, coffee, or tea

If you’re going to picnic, be prepared with some of the following things. Organize a picnic bag that you simply throw in the car any time you need it, and you’re set to go for any car trip!

  • Can opener
  • Pocket knife
  • Thermos®
  • Salt and pepper packets
  • Picnic plates, cups, cutlery
  • Ziplocs for leftovers
  • Trash bags
  • Cutting board
  • Wet wipes
  • Plastic table cloth
  • Paper towels

On Location

  • Avoid the “freebie” pitfalls – the free buffet breakfast can take up a whole day’s calories and hit you with hidden sodium that will derail your entire day.  If you choose to indulge, go for the cereals, fresh fruits and yogurt options.
  • Remember that water is your best choice – avoid sugary drinks when hydrating while enjoying your activities.  If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation to avoid empty calories.
  • Enlist your family and friends as support – in most cases they will be happy to help you either by reminding you of your goals or actively helping you make a good choice.
  • When eating out, try choosing your healthy meal and ordering first so you are not tempted to change your mind when others make their choices.
  • Share larger or more calorie-laden portions with others!

Remember to have fun and try new things! Vacation is about relaxing, being with friends and family and broadening your horizons! If you do want to splurge you can do so in moderation and with these tips to help you stay on track.  Most of all, don’t forget to pack your CalorieKing Calorie, Fat & Carbohydrate Counter and Diary to keep you grounded if you are going to be away from a computer.

With contributions by Anna Delany

3 Responses to Don’t Let Travel Derail Your Diet!

Here’s a tip that’s helped me: if you’re at a chain restaurant, see if they have nutritional info. Many of them now have it posted, or have it available behind the counter if you ask.

Thanks Lori!! Great tip!

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