Vacations allow for an escape from the typical stressors of our day to day lives. It’s a chance to explore the world while we relax and recharge—so, it’s only natural that we’d want to try new foods and indulge in favorites that we normally deem off limits while we’re away.
But on the other hand, most of us want to avoid going completely overboard, too. As many of us have probably experienced firsthand, though, when there are so many decadent treats available and we’re constantly dining out, it’s not easy to keep our healthy eating habits on track while traveling.
How can you find a balance between enjoying your favorite treats and maintaining a nutritionally sensible diet? Well, you can start by arming yourself with some knowledge about different options.
(P.S. She even said you can have ice cream!)
Going on a road trip? “If you have to grab a fast food breakfast because you're hitting the highway early, skip the donuts and coffee,” Fear said.
Instead, start your day with a less sugary option, like a McDonald's Egg White Delight McMuffin. “Lean Canadian bacon, egg whites and white cheddar cheese on an English muffin is a tasty way to get protein and carbohydrates without overloading on fat and sugar,” Fear explained. “And at 250 calories each, if you're a hearty breakfast eater, you may want two of them.”
When you’re out at the ballgame, it’s possible that hot dogs or cheese-covered nachos aren’t your only option. Fear suggests keeping your eyes open for alternatives…
“At Coors Field in Denver, Colorado you can order a custom salad with shrimp, tofu or chicken,” she explained. “Fenway Park in Boston offers a turkey wrap as well as veggie burger and veggie hot dog options. And what could me more refreshing than a tropical fruit platter while you watch the game? You can snag one of those from Minute Maid Park in Houston Texas.”
“Grab beef jerky and an apple from the rest stop convenience store,” Fear suggested. “If you spot a refrigerator, wander over and see if they have yogurt or string cheese. Better yet, bring your own snacks like grapes, baby carrots, whole gain crackers and use the rest stops to grab calorie-free drinks to stay hydrated.”
“Often, pot-luck spreads get overwhelmed with crunchy snacks like chips and dip, mayo-based salads and extra desserts,” Fear said. Instead of going overboard on typical high-calorie barbecue fare, try adding in a few more nutritious options to your plate to balance it out…
“Offer to bring a dish and use that wee bit of menu control to bring some vegetables or fresh fruit into the meal,” Fear said. “Even if most of your family is not health conscious, odds are there will be at least one other person who really appreciates having something fresher and healthier to enjoy.”
“Made from fresh fish or shellfish and marinated in lime juice with onions, cilantro and other vegetables, it's a delightful way to enjoy local cuisine while still eating healthfully,” Fear said. “Since it's naturally low in fat, having ceviche for your main meal pairs well with some fresh guacamole made from heart-healthy avocados. Just take it easy on the corn chips.”
No doubt, we tend to dine out more often while we’re on vacation, so instead of repeatedly opting for traditional restaurants where you’re likely to order heavy meals like a burger and fries, Fear suggests keeping your mind open to other types of options…
“Head to a tapas bar for small portions and savor a glass of wine,” Fear said. “No need to worry about going hungry, because the usual style is to order several ‘small’ plates off the menu, so you can always stop when you've had ‘just enough’ or order another small plate to share. No oversized entrees means no overfed you.”
“Try a tequila and soda water on the rocks with a lime wedge for 100 calories, just a fraction of the calories in a sugary margarita,” Fear said.
If a continental-style hotel breakfast is included with your stay, Fear suggests keeping your intake of refined-carbs and sugar, like from muffins and pastries, to a minimum. “The typical buffet line is heavily slanted towards filling you up with refined carbs and sugar, and protein is usually the hardest nutrient to come by,” she explained.
“If there are eggs in any form, you're in luck—pairing those with some hot or cold cereal with give you a balanced meal,” Fear said. “You might also find some yogurt, but they are usually the sugared kind so go with eggs if you have the option. Peanut butter on toast is also a filling breakfast, pair it with a glass of milk for extra protein and you're all set. If you really want some waffles or a pastry, stick to a small portion or split it with your travel companions.”
If you’re lucky enough to travel to destinations like France or Italy for your vacation, Fear says it’s a good idea to skip heading to a restaurant for every single meal.
“Consider picking up some of that delightful fresh baguette, ham and cheese, and fruit at a market and finding a place to picnic,” Fear suggested. “Not only will casual and lighter dining save you money, it will balance out richer restaurant meals or the crepes with Nutella that might catch your eye on the street.”
“Funnel cake with powdered sugar clocks in at around 800 calories for a typical serving, and that's before you add any other fruity or gooey toppings,” says Fear. “Not to mention, the deep-fried boardwalk classic also gives a lot of people heartburn or a stomachache.”
Instead of funnel cake, Fear suggests grabbing soft serve ice cream for a cooler and more health-friendly dessert. “One medium soft serve ice cream contains a more reasonable 260 calories, and provides 20 percent of your daily calcium needs too,” she said.