Vacation Strategies for Healthy Eating
There is nothing quite as exciting as the anticipation of a season that brings with it the sweet scent of summer breeze, endless sunshine, picnics, and the innocent laughter of children echoing off the sparkling beaches. It is also a time when many enjoy the thrill of camping and long road trips that lead to new adventures and memories to be cherished for years to come. No matter how exciting, these experiences can easily disrupt our commitment to healthy eating, especially when much of our foods choices come from gas stations and diners along the way. Finding “real food” in a world where the the food industry conspires to keep them off our shelves is challenging enough—but that doesn’t mean that your vacation should be disrupted. Lets explore some alternatives that will alleviate stress and frustration so you can focus in on all the fun that’s ahead.
- Bring your own food—Fill a cooler with healthy alternatives for those moments when you’ll be driving for long stretches and want to avoid convenience stores that offer sugary and processed foods. Pack some raw almonds, walnuts, or pecans, a bag of carrots and cucumbers, a container of hummus, a can of wild salmon, a container of chickpeas with olive oil and seasonings, whole-food protein bars, and Mary’s organic crackers. Other great alternatives include boiled eggs, full-fat yogurt, cheese, and natural deli meat. Many of these are available at most convenience stores and you can obtain them along the way.
- Choose your liquids wisely—They may not be food, but they can certainly pack on unexpected calories where one least expects it. Many people turn to sodas, specialty lattes, and alcohol which all raise blood sugar levels and cause weight gain. Keeping it simply with pure water will keep you well hydrated and assist with appetite suppression. To add a little “zing”, add fresh lemon juice to your water bottle, or enjoy lemon perrier which is a great alternative to sugar laden sodas. There are quite a few naturally flavoured soda waters available and they can easily be found at a grocery chain store.
- Choose the restaurant with caution—Many restaurants have online menus and in researching them, you can set your mind at ease about your food choices. Asking your server questions before you order can save confusion and frustration once your entrée arrives. Most restaurants are set up to accommodate food sensitivities and special requests, so don’t let the menu dictate what you order. Request fresh fruit, olives, or cheese as an appetizer instead of breads, potatoes, nachos and martinis. Keeping your entree simple with the least amount of ingredients will leave you feeling confident knowing you are making the best choices. Ask for a grilled fish or chicken dish with a large plate of vegetables steamed or sautéed in olive oil. Some restaurants allow half portions which is a great way to prevent overeating and overstraining your digestive system. Luckily, many restaurants are implementing better food choices for health-conscious individuals who are devoted to this lifestyle and wish to avoid being sidetracked.
- Bring the right supplements—No one should be caught off guard by getting sick while on vacation. Whether you want to avoid the onset of a cold, or an unpleasant run-in with a foreign food source, bringing along the right supplements may save you much frustration in the process. Your most important allies are digestive enzymes or HCl—also known as hydrochloric acid—and good quality probiotics. Both the enzymes and HCl assist in the breakdown of food, rendering them non-allergenic, while the probiotics complete the breakdown and assimilation of various nutrients. By improving your digestion, the immune system is able to concentrate better on fighting off invaders and keeping your health on track.
- Move your body—This is especially important if you’re putting long hours into driving with few calories to burn in the process. Furthermore, if you find yourself unprepared and overwhelmed by one too many restaurant meals, keep active as much as you can! Enjoy the outdoors by kayaking, hiking, swimming and paddle boarding. Periodically do jumping jacks, pushups, sprints—whatever gets your heart rate up.
Vacations are all about fun and relaxation! Stressing over what you will eat defeats this purpose and will rob you of any enjoyment in the process. Allow yourself some wiggle room and remove any guilt that arises when you find yourself not eating to your ideal standards. Instead, live in the moment and embrace this time of reflection with your loved ones. You’ll be glad you did!