Dig those shorts out of the bottom of your closet, buy a new bottle of sunblock, and un-crumple that beach cover-up, because it’s time for vacation!
Nothing beats a good getaway; it’s the time for you to relax, regroup, and rejuvenate, all while sipping a pina colada in some sort of hot water pool. But with all these good vibrations come challenges in the nutrition department. Mainly, it’s REALLY easy to “fall off the wagon” and indulge in meals that tip our calorie, fat and sodium scales. We’re bound to eat more than we usually do when on vacation – which is fine, in case you were wondering – but the key is being smart about the whole thing. Listen up, because I’m about to share some tricks of the trade to make sure you have a nutritionally-successful vacation.
Part I of this travel series revolves around where all your vacations begin: the airport. Yes, you could be traveling by train/car/boat/bus but for the sake of argument, we’re focusing on the airport here. All the strategies are translatable, of course. Now I tend to be a big fan of the ol’ 6am flight (well, I’m a fan when I get to my destination early…I’m not a fan when it’s 3:30am and the alarm goes off), so breakfast is typically the meal I seek out at the airport. Here are some tips to starting out your travel on the right foot:
- Pack whatever food you can: the airport restricts liquids, but solid food is a go! Throw some portable breakfast options in your carry-on like fruit, granola bars, whole wheat English muffin/bagel thin with peanut butter, oatmeal (just add hot water), and dry cereal (just add milk).
- If you’re stopping at a quick service eatery like Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts, use this list as a guide for good/not so good options:
Go for It!
|Simple breakfast sandwich||Fruit & yogurt parfaits|
|Eggs||Loaded breakfast sandwich|
|Whole grain breads||Breakfast pastries (Danish, etc.)|
- If you’re sitting down to eat breakfast at a full service restaurant, just be conscious of portion size. Your vacation is only beginning, so there’s plenty of time to get your indulgences in. For now, keep it simple: you can’t go wrong with a breakfast consisting of eggs, fruit, and whole wheat toast. Save those 3 pancakes the size of the plate itself for vacation day #5.
Now I love a good breakfast sandwich as much as the next guy, and that seems to be the perfect grab-and-go breakfast treat. But once again, the simpler the better. The McDonald’s Egg McMuffin will run you 300 calories, 13g fat, and 750mg sodium. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not the worst option. The McMuffin is pretty simple, consisting of 1 egg, 1 slice cheese, and 1 slice Canadian bacon on an English muffin. But once you start to get fancy, like the Au Bon Pain 2 Eggs, Sausage & Cheddar on an Asiago Bagel, you’re looking at 730 calories, 36g fat, and 1210mg sodium. #keepitsimple
If you’re flying out later in the day, you have a plethora of lunch/dinner options. And once again, never fear, I have strategies for these meals too:
- Pack your own veggies: veggies seem to be hard to come by in the airport, so solve the problem by bringing your own! Load up a plastic baggie with raw veggies of your choice: carrots, celery, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, etc. So even if you have to grab a slice of pizza, you have a built-in healthy side dish! Salad dressing/hummus/guacamole for dipping is optional!
- Try somewhere you can make your own sandwich/salad: I’m thinking along the lines of Subway, where you have complete control of what ingredients go into your meal. Go for lean meats, load up on veggies, and try for whole grain breads whenever possible.
- If you’re sitting down to eat at a restaurant, once again, simple is usually better for you. Choose meals that are balanced and simple: all you need is a lean protein, carbohydrate, and fruit/veggie. So while that baked chicken with mashed potatoes and carrots may seem a little plain, it’s probably your best nutrition bet. #keepitsimple
Now that you’ve made it successfully through the winding security lines and crowded terminals, you’re well on your way to some well-deserved rest and relaxation. Next up in the travel series, we talk hotels! Stay tuned; more simple nutrition strategies are yet to come. For now, sit back and buckle your seatbelt; you’re in for hours of ear popping and awkwardly-positioned snoozing. All clear for take-off!