Eating on the road and in the air can be challenging, expensive, and unhealthy. But healthy eating does not have to take a backseat when you go on vacation. A little planning can keep your family and yourself on the healthy track.
Pack Healthy Options
Packing your own meals and snacks will save money and time, and prevent you from purchasing “junk food” or “fast food.” Bring a sandwich or salad, and pack snack bags with nuts, dried fruit, low-fat crackers, pretzels, unsweetened dry cereal, popcorn, or granola bars. If traveling by car, pack a cooler with frozen water bottles, cut-up fruits and vegetables, yogurt, cheese sticks and hummus.
Pick Healthy Food Stops
Food stops are a good time for everyone to stretch their legs on long car trips. But instead of stopping at a fast food chain, try a grocery store. Most stores now have soup and salad bars, or prepared salads and sandwiches. And if they don’t, you can buy the ingredients to serve up your own freshly made sandwiches. Enjoy your meal at a local park where the kids can burn off energy playing Frisbee, baseball and other simple toys packed in the car.
If fast food is your best option, there are still healthy choices for you and your family. Fast food and major chain restaurants must now provide nutritional information, so making healthier choices is easier than ever. Plus, many fast-food chains let you choose what goes into your meal, like substituting fries with fruit or a side salad. I like to get a salad, with low-fat dressing (on the side), and grilled meat. I also avoid sugary drinks like sweetened tea, soda and lemonade.
Hot temperatures and flying can lead to dehydration. If you feel hungry, you may really be thirsty. Water is the best choice for staying hydrated. Avoid caffeinated beverages and alcohol as they dehydrate your body. Bring your own water bottle as a reminder to drink. Investing in an insulated bottle will keep your water cold for many hours, even in the heat.
Ask for a Mini-Fridge
If you’re staying at a hotel, request a mini-fridge and stock it with water, milk, fruits, vegetables, yogurt, hummus, cheese sticks, and ingredients to make sandwiches for lunch. Enjoy the regional cuisine by eating at local restaurants instead of national restaurant chains. Check with the local visitor’s bureau or roadfood.com. And store any leftovers in the fridge!
Enjoy this time for family fun and relaxation, but don’t abandon your healthy habits. It’s ok if you eat too much ice cream one day, just go easy on sweets the next. Find a healthy balance so that you can relax, unwind, and rejuvenate yourself.