End-of-summer vacations are here and it’s time to unwind, relax and enjoy the sunshine. I love traveling so I know first-hand that trips can be a real challenge when it comes to eating healthy.
For me and many of my patients, travel means more dining out and different foods. Restaurant meals are almost always higher in calories, fat and salt than meals prepared at home, making it easy to gain weight when dining out multiple times per day. Since obesity is one of the primary factors contributing to increased cancer risk, maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best ways to prevent cancer and other chronic diseases.
Here are my top tips to stay healthy and avoid weight gain on vacation:
1. Pack snacks.
Even with great intentions, if it’s been more than 5 hours since your last meal and you’re really hungry, you’re more likely to impulsively eat something unhealthy like those cookies at the rest stop. And it’s just so easy to eat too much, too quickly. Avoid this by having a small snack between meals that are many hours apart so you can make smart choices later. I always bring multiple pre-portioned snack bags in my purse or suitcase when traveling.
If you’re planning one last summer get-away before it’s back-to-school and back-to-work, make it a time to boost your family’s health to stay on the road to a cancer preventive lifestyle.
Starting early in life to help your children develop healthy habits can pay off now and in the future because it can help them learn how to make healthy eating and staying active a routine part of their daily choices.
Here’s three ideas for your vacation, which you can make fun and delicious with a little organizing and family input.
Personalize snack stash: allow your children to pack their own snack sack for the road. With a few ground rules, take them shopping so they can select their own fresh fruit and vegetable, favorite cheese or yogurt, whole grain crackers and sweet treat. These are snacks they can eat when they want – 5 miles down the road, or they can space them out over a few days. This can go a long way to limit impulse purchases at the convenience store or airport.
Family Fitness: Plan ahead for some physical activity every day. You could have family members each choose one activity that can be done by everyone – for example, take along jump ropes, Frisbees, stretch bands, sturdy walking shoes or yoga mats. Here’s a video of some basic stretch band exercises, for example.
Explore local foods: Check out area farmer’s markets, family friendly farms or other food outlets that promote locally grown produce. Besides finding some tasty specialties, you may get to hear farmers, growers and producers’ talk about their food, how it was grown and how they like to prepare it.
It’s summertime, and that means lots of fun BBQs, parties and traveling. Trigger-foods like sausage, chips and sweet/salty foods that you might normally keep out of the house can be hard to resist when you are away from home. You might also want to avoid offending your host by turning down the food they prepared.
You are not alone. Here are some tips to navigate four tricky common summer eating scenarios – it all starts with planning ahead!
At a potluck:
Bring a healthy side dish like a garden salad or fruit salad so you can eat this instead of high-calorie sides like macaroni or potato salad.
Be a food snob! If you don’t absolutely love the treat, don’t bother. If there is one dessert you like more than others, have just a small portion of that one.
Fill your plate once. Build your plate based around the guidelines for the New American Plate. Then walk away from the food so you aren’t tempted to get seconds.