It's that time of year when I renew my perennial goal to make healthier choices and lose weight. I've been dutifully logging my calories and activitieseach day, and it seems that just when I get the hang of making healthy choices at home, we leave town. Eating healthy and nutritious meals on the road can be a real challenge.
Food is part of the fun on vacation, but those calories really add up if you travel regularly. I'm far from perfect, but I have figured out a few simple healthy helps along our way. When I follow my own advice, it really works!
Here are six simple tips to help you eat healthy on vacation.
Track what you eat
It's easy to underestimate those vacation calories, so I use the My Fitness Pal app and website to help me stick to my goals. My Fitness Pal will help you figure out your target calories based on your goals and amount of exercise. It also has a huge database of foods and it's easy to use anywhere.
Go grocery shopping
Book a room with a refrigerator and stock it with healthy foods you enjoy. Shop before you leave home, when you arrive, or arrange for grocery delivery. Most grocery stores have fresh, ready-to-eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains and more for healthy and convenient breakfasts, picnic lunches and snacks.
Disneyland, LEGOLAND, the San Diego Zoo and most other parks and zoos will let you bring in sandwiches, snacks and drinks in a day pack or stroller. This is a great way to save money and eat healthier inside the parks.
Portions are huge at some restaurants, so sharing an entree can be both healthful and economical. Just ask for an extra plate with the entree. Sharing can also be a good way to avoid the kids' menu and introduce your children to the world beyond burgers and buttered noodles. I know that can be a hard sell, but now that my daughter is getting older, I'm finding that she's a lot more interested in trying new things than she used to be.
Beware of the buffet
I like a good salad bar, but at a buffet, I never stop there. I can consume a full-day's calories, and then some, in a single meal because there are too many tempting options! My advice is to avoid buffets unless it's a special occasion or opportunity.
The complimentary breakfast buffet at many hotels is a different problem. I like when breakfast is included, but choose with care. Look for fresh fruit and whole grain cereals and eggs. If you're having a hard time finding healthy options at the breakfast buffet, consider picking up a few groceries and avoid it altogether.
Pack water bottles
It's easy to consume a lot of unnecessary calories in your drinks. The drink pouches and juice boxes my kids love are loaded with sugar, and whether diet or regular, it's impossible to confuse soda for a health food. Water is always the best option, and I've found that when I drink my 8 glasses a day, it helps keep the munchies under control because I don't confuse dehydration for hunger.
For my family, vacuum insulated stainless steel water bottles are the way to go. We have tried several of these, and they do a great job of keeping our water cold all day. My favorite water bottle is the EcoVessel Boulder, which is available on Amazon.com. The wide opening and removable strainer makes it easy to add ice cubes and fruit and keep them in the bottle. I left this bottle in our car on a very hot day for 5+ hours and the ice was still frozen when we returned!
When you indulge, enjoy!
Good food is part of a good vacation. I love to try local cuisine and enjoy great restaurants that I can't find at home. Dessert is a can't-miss way to introduce my kids to new cultures.
When you have a special and wonderful food experience, enjoy every bite without guilt or regret, no matter how decadent it is. If you're making healthy choices most of the time, an occasional splurge won't keep you from achieving your long-term goals.
What helps you eat healthy on the road?
Please share your own tips in the comments!