When traveling, should you indulge in the local culinary temptations, or stick to your diet? Many people face this dilemma when they go on vacation.
For many people, visiting new places without sampling their culinary delights takes away half the fun. Still, you should make an effort to make healthy choices when possible, even while on vacation.
For most of us, traveling includes discovering new places, cultures, and food. So what can we do to avoid gaining weight? Should we stick to a strict diet while on vacation? Should we take healthy food with us?
Not only is it cumbersome to try to bring your own food with you, if you are traveling outside the country you may not even be allowed by customs to bring it on the plane. Besides, the main purpose of a vacation is to relax, enjoy the surroundings, and learn about the local culture. So go ahead and enjoy your trip, just try not to overindulge. Enjoy the local cuisine in moderation, so you don’t gain weight.
Before the trip
Before you take your vacation, focus on eating a healthy diet so that you can enjoy some flexibility while traveling.
At the airport
Airports have a lot of fast food restaurants and snack machines. If you get hungry during a long wait, have some small snacks with you. Have a diet drink or water and a cereal bar or sandwich, rather than junk food. Keep busy by reading a good book or walking. If you have coffee, ask for a small one without cream. Use sweeteners instead of sugar.
Aboard the plane
On short flights, airlines usually serve small snacks. If you’re not hungry, don't eat them. On longer flights, airlines serve an entire meal. If given a choice, opt for the meal you think will contain the least calories. You may even make a special request to the airline in advance, for a low-fat meal. If you ate at the airport, don't eat on the plane. If you eat on the plane, don't eat when you arrive at your destination. Adjust your eating times and stick to them as much as possible.
During the trip
It's true that the local cuisine adds to the enjoyment of your trip. If you want to stay healthy and avoid putting on the excess weight, simply remind yourself to eat in moderation. Consider the following advice when you take a vacation:
- Decide which is going to be your main meal and plan low-calorie options for the others.
- Order small portions, or eat only 1/2 of a large portion served. You don't need to eat enormous quantities to savor a tasty dish.
- If you're going to have an alcoholic beverage, drink only one.
- Share a dessert. Try not to have dessert everyday.
- If you visit a hot country and need to keep drinking fluids to stay hydrated, drink water and light juices. Avoid soft drinks and alcohol because they won't properly hydrate you, and will inadvertently add calories to your diet.
- Use the trip as an opportunity to exercise. Walk as much as you can. Exercise more if you have eaten a heavy meal.
Traveling on a ship can make for an enjoyable trip. Good food, and lots of it, is a main focus on most cruises. Make sure you choose foods that have a lower calorie content, and follow the tips provided above. Most cruise lines have a gym, a pool, and even scheduled exercise classes. Be sure to take advantage of those on a daily basis.
On the road
Many people take food with them when they go on road trips so that they won't have to stop to eat. Choose healthy foods that can be eaten at room temperature, such as tuna, ham, chicken or turkey sandwiches, fruits and vegetables. Make sure to bring enough water or other non-caloric beverages to drink. Keep salty or sweet snacks to a minimum.
Plan carefully what foods you're going to take with you on a camping trip, especially when traveling to a location where there are no stores around. Take easy-to-carry and non-perishable foods such as canned and dried foods; they're the best options.
Back home again
Your lifestyle changed temporarily while you were on vacation. You may find, when you get back home, that you have gained a few extra pounds. Don't worry. If you followed the advice we've given you, and get back into a routine of healthy eating and regular exercise, you'll quickly lose those extra pounds.
*Nutrition counselor from the MyDiet™ Team
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