If you can getaway this winter – no matter where, no matter for how long – do it! Getaways can work wonders for the mind and for the soul, helping to make the drab winter season that much more bearable by breaking it up with some recharging fun and relaxation.
The problem is, vacay can also work wonders for the body – and usually not in a good way. And it’s not just because your willpower tends to take a vacation too; it’s also because airports, road trip rest stops, small towns and getaway destinations don’t usually offer a notable selection of healthy food options to choose from. The menu on travel days usually becomes a succession of junky snacks, chip bags, candy bars and fast food, with vacation days of carefree restaurant eating sandwiched in between.
But travel doesn’t have to put a dent in your diet, and your diet doesn’t have to ruin your vacation. With a bit of planning and some on-the-go nutrition tips, you can make your trip that much more enjoyable by keeping it healthy, full of energy and bloat-free, while actually continuing to lose weight.
Use these tips to help you make better eating choices while on your travels, so you can have fun while staying fit and trim.
1. Gas stations fuel your car, not your body.
On road trips, pulling over at a rest stop for car refueling usually doubles as opportunities for stomach refueling as well. This limits your food choices to convenience store junk foods or fast food.
But almost every highway exit usually has a large grocery store or superstore just beyond it. Taking five extra minutes to pull in to a grocery store instead offers you the pick-of-the-litter when it comes to whole, healthy, satisfying foods that could be just as finger-friendly, delicious and car-friendly – think apples and bananas with a jar of nut butter, or baby carrots and hummus, or cups of yogurt or cottage cheese with fresh berries, or snap peas, raw nuts, etc. – minus the whopping calorie load, energy depletion and bloating that comes with rest stop foods. Some grocery stores even feature a healthy salad bar.
You can do a bit of research in advance to map out which road exits feature the closest grocery stores, or you can just try winging it with a few grocery store scouting missions while on the road, if your travel time is more flexible.
Or, if you have the time, pack up your own healthy snack foods before you leave, and stash them in a cooler.
2. Pack up smart snacks in a travel cooler.
Whether you’re travelling by plane or by car, a travel cooler is a convenient carry-on or backseat piece of luggage that can save your life when stashed with healthy emergency snack kits on-hand when hunger hits.
Mix it up with dry food baggies of raw nuts, seeds, healthy whole-grain crackers and 70-percent raw dark chocolate bars with crispy fresh finger-foods like celery sticks, carrot sticks, snap peas, green pepper rings, radishes, apples, berries, etc. Include small containers of healthy dips like hummus, guacamole, nut butter and tapenade. Pack travel-friendly protein foods like hard boiled eggs, wild canned salmon, small cups of Greek yogurt or cottage cheese, etc.
This way, when gas station candy bars or airport potato chips start calling your name, you can muffle that voice by dipping into your own healthy and delicious pre-prepared stash.
Lots of people complain that traveling leads to annoying bloating and constipation. This happens because of a combination of high-sodium, high-sugar eating and drinking, along with the drying indoor environments of airports, airplanes, cars and hotels.
Skip sodas and sweetened beverages, and drink lots and lots of water while on the road and during vacation. For every cup of coffee or alcoholic beverage you drink, drink twice the amount of water. Also, eat lots of high-fiber plant foods, like vegetables, fruits and whole grains, and go light on fatty, high-sodium and high-sugar foods that can cause bloating, constipation, and low-energy to put a serious damper on your trip.
4. Eat smaller meals more frequently.
Eating small amounts of healthy foods throughout the day not only keeps your digestion system and metabolism working more smoothly and efficiently, it also makes you feel lighter and keeps your energy high.
Eating too many calories in a single sitting, on the other hand – even if they’re healthy calories – weighs you down and makes you feel sluggish and sleepy, as your digestion system sucks up all your energy just to digest all that food. Eating a lot of food in one meal also triggers ancient survival mechanisms in your brain to start preparing for less food availability in the future, making it more likely that those calories will be stored as fat.
5. Eat smart when you eat out.
Do a bit of research about your trip destination before you go, scouting out healthy restaurants nearby that have received good reviews.
But even if the healthy restaurant options aren’t impressive, almost every restaurant can make a grilled fish, chicken or lean steak dish, and can replace starchy side dishes with a salad (skip ranch and creamy dressings, choose a vinaigrette option instead), steamed vegetables, brown rice or sweet potato instead. Stay away from dishes that are fried, breaded, or smothered in sauce