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Public Health - About
Archive for June, 2008
Friday, June 6th, 2008

It’s very easy to overlook healthy eating habits when we’re on vacation. A change of routine, new scenery, happy adventures, and of course scrumptious temptations – can cause us to make poor choices and relax our restraint. But with a little rationale, planning and sound judgment, we can eat healthy and still manage to have fun on vacation. Whether on a plane, in the car, in a hotel, or out and about, there are simple ways to watch what we eat and still get the most out of our vacation.

On the Plane:

Since most airlines have discontinued offering meals on flight (except for long distance trips) we should plan ahead and bring healthy foods with us.  The best food choices are portable snacks (such as fresh fruit, granola bars, whole grain crackers).  Raw nuts, healthy trail mixes, and seeds are also great for travel.  If you make your own before leaving home, there is less chance of purchasing treats loaded with unhealthy ingredients such as trans-fat.

The National Institutes of Health recommend avoiding excessively salty foods and alcohol during air travel, and making sure you drink at least one quart of water during your flight.

In the Car:

Oh the temptations of fast food and junk food from convenience stores on a driving trip! Instead, why not pack a variety of nutritious foods in a cooler filled with ice packs. Fruits and raw vegetables, sandwiches, crackers, yogurt and granola bars are quick and healthy solutions for the road. Stay away from sugary snacks, and pack plenty bottles of water so you don’t become dehydrated and tired while driving.

If you absolutely cannot avoid stopping at a fast food drive-thru, there are still some healthier choices you can make. For example, if you order a hamburger, skip the cheese and add lettuce and tomato, choose grilled meats instead of fried, and eat salads with low-fat dressings.

In Your Hotel:

If your hotel offers a continental breakfast, try to stay away from the donuts and sweet rolls. Instead, choose fruits, whole-grain cereals and low-fat muffins. Eggs are a great source of protein, but skip the cheese and hash browns on the side.

If you find out ahead of time that your hotel has a microwave and refrigerator, feel free to bring some of your own food (that way, you already know the nutritional content). In case your room doesn’t have a microwave, the in-room coffee maker can also double as a water heater when making meals such as oatmeal. If you bring food from home, it will reduce the number of meals you eat out and will assure healthier choices.

Out and About:

I will admit it may be a lot easier to grab a burger and fries as you are walking through an amusement park than it is to have a salad. However, making healthy choices can keep you more energized to thoroughly enjoy your much-deserved vacation.  Consider finding a grocery store when you get to your destination and stocking up on healthy, portable snacks that you can carry with you while you’re exploring your surroundings.

A few more tips for eating out while on vacation:

  • Only eat when you are hungry: If you are at a complimentary buffet, don’t fill up just because it’s free.
  • Be aware of portions: Restaurants tend to serve overwhelmingly large portions, so only eat enough to make you full.
  • Forgive yourself of overindulgences: Because it is extremely easy to overindulge while on vacation, don’t punish yourself for it. Simply scale back a bit and try to eat healthier for the remainder of your trip. Take a walk around the hotel or swim in the pool to burn a few extra calories.
  • Look for healthier menu options: Order food that is broiled rather than fried, or includes low-fat cheese and low-fat milk as an ingredient. Try to pass up the bread basket and avoid the butter, margarine and oil that come along with it. Choose fish or poultry for your entrée and try to include vegetables rather than fries or cole slaw.
  • Moderate your desserts: It is OK to give in to your sweet tooth every now and then, but choose a sorbet instead of ice cream, or fresh fruit instead of cake.
  • Don’t skip meals: To keep your metabolism up, try to eat every four to five hours.
  • Avoid appetizers: If you want an appetizer, select it as your entrée to avoid eating oversized amounts of food.
  • Don’t eat a large meal at night: Because your body slows down before you go to sleep, you will burn less calories overnight.
  • Limit your alcohol intake: The extra calories can really add up.

Now go out there and have a relaxing vacation!!