How to eat healthy while on vacation

It was my birthday recently and all my friends had told me that it was important. For some reason, from the time we turn 25, every five years is supposed to be this big important number. Well, I’m not going to tell you what denomination of 5 I got to, but hey, it was a GREAT birthday!

I love that I was born in July. My birthday always falls right around our vacation time. My husband is also a Cancer, so the whole month feels like a celebration and a vacation. And just like everyone else, our celebrations are often centered around food.

Over the holiday weekend, to say goodbye to America and myself, we had a small group of very close friends over for a gourmet dinner. Last night my husband took me alone for a quiet celebration at one of our favorite restaurants in Manhattan. And next week we’re going on vacation to CA where we’re celebrating his birthday at the Santa Barbara Food and Wine Festival.

Well that’s a lot of food, good wine and fun! Add to this the other 6 days we’ll be eating out and on the road; That could be a scary number on the scale on August 1! However, I decided a long time ago that I was not going to ruin vacations or celebrations by feeling guilty, worrying about gaining weight, or slipping into my exercise program.

I came up with a few strategies to keep eating healthy while I’m out, still having fun, and not feeling deprived. I never want to freak out when I see the scale coming back, requiring the rest of the summer to be spent shedding excess weight. I hope these tips help you eat healthy on your next vacation.

Wherever your travels take you, even if it’s just out in the backyard with family and friends, have the best time!

Tips for eating healthy during the holidays.

1. Plan ahead to have healthy food and snacks for travel. If you’re flying to get to your destination, don’t depend on airport and airplane food. Bring your own healthy sandwiches, salads and/or snacks, or choose wisely at the airport. Many airlines still allow special meal requests when traveling internationally, but generally require at least 48 hours’ notice. Check with your provider ahead of time and, if available, ask for low-calorie, low-fat, and low-cholesterol options.

2. For road trips, pack a cooler with fresh fruit, low-fat cheese sticks, granola bars, whole-grain crackers, trail mix, and, of course, plenty of water. Highway rest stops are famous for high-fat, high-calorie foods, and finding nutritious selections can be a challenge. But if you have your own groceries, you can take advantage of their tables, and in good weather many even have picnic tables.

3. Don’t let boredom lead you to overeat. Long hours of air travel or car travel can lead to boredom snacking. Make sure you have plenty of things to keep you entertained; a great book, books on tape if you drive, an iPod or MP3 loaded with your favorite music, magazines with crossword puzzles or Sudoku, or your laptop.

4. Before leaving on a trip, call the hotel and request that they empty the minibar or provide you with a small empty refrigerator so that you can load it with water and healthy snacks. If they can’t accommodate you, decline the minibar key when you check in to avoid temptation.

5. Explore the surroundings and visit the local fruit and vegetable markets, if possible on foot or by bike. This way you can get some exercise after sitting for so long on the trip and fill your hotel room with healthy options. Many hotels rent bikes and can tell you about the fun, gourmet grocery stores and fruit stands that the locals frequent.

6. When you eat out, enjoy the experience, but apply the same healthy habits you’ve adopted at home. Order dressings on the side, choose baked, broiled, or broiled, have fresh vegetables by asking for them to be steamed or very lightly sautéed in olive oil, and stop eating when you’re full instead of stuffing. If your hotel has a microwave, you can even take leftovers with you for lunch the next day.

7. Enjoy local delicacies guilt-free by sampling instead of feasting. Who wouldn’t want to enjoy a chocolate souffle in Paris, benoits in New Orleans, fondue in Switzerland, or a clam bake on the shore? But turning them into a constant diet and abusing each day of your trip will surely lead to feelings of guilt and the desire to go on a strict diet when you return home (which, of course, I never recommend!)

8. Don’t drink your calories with exotic cocktails by the pool, or indulge in happy hour 7 days in a row. Most people are surprised to discover the number of calories in many alcoholic beverages, some adding up to more than a full meal should take. Stick to wine, light beer, or plain 4-ounce blends of alcohol mixed with seltzer, diet soda, or a splash of light juices.

Eating healthy should be a way of life with occasional indulgences built into it. But a week of vacation, filled with every meal and snack, a drastic increase in alcohol, bread at every meal, and desserts will surely lead to disaster on the scale when you return home. Be sure to return from your vacation feeling rested, rejuvenated, healthy, and loaded with an excess of good memories instead of pounds!

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