Don’t vacation from healthy food choices

Sometimes the vacation state of mind can be a problem for weight loss since often we overindulge and dine out frequently. Those who are trying to lose or maintain weight should remember to enjoy themselves, but be mindful of choices and think of healthy balance. It may be even more realistic to make the goal of not gaining weight while on vacation.

Keep in mind that a lot of fast food always is a bad idea. Stopping to eat fast food not only wastes time, but also may add to your waistline. For example, a typical burger and fries meal will pack on at least 900 calories and 30 grams of fat. That coupled with the inactivity of traveling can leave you feeling tired and groggy. Packing just a few items will not only save money, but calories as well.

Keep in mind that some packed items will need refrigeration (cheese, lunch meat, etc.), so a cooler always is a good idea. Freezing water bottles to pack in the cooler is practical and can keep other items cold, too. For a snack, pack homemade trail mix with whole grain cereal, or dried fruits and nuts. Other good snacks include bananas, apples, carrot sticks, yogurt in a tube (can be frozen), string cheese, wheat crackers, lean beef or turkey jerky. For meals on the road, you could pack peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or wraps, which won’t get smashed.

Water should be the main beverage you pack for the road, since re-circulated air may accelerate dehydration. Watch out for too much caffeine, which can be dehydrating and thus cause a crash of fatigue. If you plan on flying to your destination, bring an empty water bottle to re-fill once you get past security.

When visiting an amusement park, pack some of the same non-perishable items above can help cut down on eating too many meals in the park. One great thing about amusement parks is the level of activity you get in just by walking. Some amusement parks, such as Disney World, have grilled options over fried, and fruit instead of fries.

When choosing a hotel, look for fitness facilities to keep you on track with activity. We tend to eat too much on vacation, so be sure not to skip activity. Also, get a room with a small refrigerator so you can keep a few healthy snacks or quick breakfasts on hand, so that you don’t rely on fast foods or restaurants.

For those who are dieting while on vacation, remember these tips:

n Planning is the key. Fortunately, we live in a time where so many technologies are available for meal planning. You can use a GPS to find restaurants, and check the menu and nutritional value if you have Internet on your cell phone.

n For those who are not as technologically advanced, sticking to basics also is effective. Besides saying “SOS” (sauces on the side) and splitting entrees, aim for lean meats and veggies.

n The best advice is to eat slowly and savor every bite, but stop when full and satisfied.

Eat lobster in Maine and juicy, ripe peaches in Georgia. In other words, enjoy local fare and try new foods because that is part of the pleasure of being on a vacation. Scrutinizing about every calorie is not a fun way to spend your time off, so relax and enjoy the adventure.

Heather Pierce is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator for the Blount Memorial Weight Management Center.

© 2010 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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