Eating Well When Traveling
Another potentially tricky component of maintaining your healthy lifestyle when you’re on the road is eating well! It’s rare to have complete control over food choices when you’re traveling and this can prove hard on both your digestive system and your waistline. I’ve got a few recommendations for eating well when you’re dining out, whether you’re traveling or simply eat outside your own kitchen on a regular basis.
- Share your meal: When Elise and I dine out, we almost always share an entree. Not only do we save a little money, but neither one of us overeats or feels like we “have to finish” the plate that’s been set before us. It’s no secret that most restaurants’ portion sizes are very large, and that the food is likely so delicious because it contains much more fat and salt than we really need to consume to satisfy our nutritional needs. If you’re not dining with someone with whom you can split your meal, ask your server to bring you a “to go” container at the outset of the meal so you can split your own food before the temptation to consume the entire plate of food even arises.
- Skip the bread basket: It is so tempting to reach into the hot basket of buttery rolls the server plops down on the restaurant table when you first arrive, so don’t even put yourself in that position. Simply ask the basket to be removed! Those highly refined carbohydrates are not the fuel your body needs. If your dining companions DO want the bread basket to remain, ask for your drink to be brought right away so that you can sip something and contemplate your order while others munch.
- Don’t drink your calories: I know this is an oft-repeated nugget of wisdom, but any easy way to avoid consuming more energy that we need is to drink calorie-free beverages (sparkling water, iced tea, coffee, etc.). One way that calories pile up is when we satisfy our thirst with sugary drinks (sodas, sweetened teas, juices) – these types of drinks are fine as an occasional treat, but they shouldn’t be the way we satisfy thirst.
- Order strategically: A few wise changes can transform almost any restaurant meal into delicious, nourishing fuel for your body. Request dressings and sauces be served on the side, substitute a side salad or a vegetable for the usual starch (often white potatoes or French fries) and pay attention to chef’s notes on the menu. Many restaurants now point out healthier fare on their menus, and we’ve had good experiences sampling these dishes at chain restaurants like IHOP and Applebee’s.
- Don’t skip breakfast or snacks: If you arrive feeling so ravenous you could eat a horse, chances are good you will. :) It may sound counterintuitive, but make sure you eat! You should be hungry for your meal when you sit down to it, but not so hungry that you’re willing to eat anything in your path. If you can, carry some nutritious snacks with you that can help stave-off overpowering hunger (we love carrot sticks, apples, and celery with peanut butter). If your hotel offers a free continental breakfast, take advantage of it! Most serve oatmeal, fresh fruit, and yogurt – foods that will satisfy your hunger and give you energy to make it through the day.
- Give yourself some grace: One indulgent meal does NOT undo all the other healthy choices you’ve made, in fact, it may have been just what your metabolism needed! Instead of becoming stressed and discouraged by a lapse (which is temporary and normal), respond by drinking lots of water, continuing with your normal exercise routine, getting adequate sleep, and eating a healthy breakfast the following day! You can turn a setback into a comeback.
Be fit, be blessed – and happy travels!
- Posted on March 13th, 2013