By Michilea Patterson, The Mercury
Holiday travel has its perks, like getting away for a while and seeing family — but nobody enjoys holiday weight gain.
AAA projects that 43 million Americans will travel this Independence Day weekend. If the projection is correct then that will make it the highest 4th of July travel volume on record. When families are driving, flying or riding on train to their destinations, they should also continue to make healthy eating a priority. Giant Food Stores’ in-store nutritionist and registered dietitian Christina Fava shared several tips on how to come home from vacation without added pounds.
MAKE A PLAN
Fava said the first step to committing to eating healthy on the go is to make a plan. If people are driving in a car or flying in a plane then they may want to pre-pack their own healthy snacks. Fava said travelers will want to bring foods that are portable and easy to eat like nuts, seeds and fruit. These foods are a great way to stay satisfied while in motion to your destination. It’s also a good idea to bring even more snacks to have on hand one you get to where you’re traveling to. Bring pre-portioned items like granola bars, protein bars, single serving size popcorn bags and individual trail mix packages.
Fava said having these healthy snacks on hand will prevent you from being hungry then overeating later. She said it’s important to pay attention to your body when it’s telling you it’s time to eat and when it’s time to stop eating. It’s all about being mindful so people can still enjoy the foods they really want to eat on vacation but in acceptable portion sizes, Fava said.
“It sounds basic but it really does help people when they’re trying to avoid gaining a lot of weight when they’re travelling,” she said.
Fava said it can be easy to forget to stay hydrated while traveling but that it’s important to drink lots of water. This time of year can get very hot which makes it even more important to have healthy beverages around. She suggest picking up some water bottles before hitting the road so you have them while traveling, at your hotel and at any social event you plan to attend.
Vacation often means the consumption of alcohol but Fava encourages people to alternate those types of drinks with healthier options like flavored water. There are waters that already come flavored with no low-sugar sweeteners or you can add some type of drink enhancer yourself. Lemonades and teas have a lot of sugar in them so replace such items with a low-sugar, low-calorie option. Fill a pitcher with water and add fruit slices in it for everyone to enjoy.
“You can even put 100 percent fruit juice in an ice cube tray and make flavored ice cubes that way,” Fava recommended.
She said barbecues usually have some type of decadent desert so if you really want the sweet treat then avoid other sugary-dense items like soft drinks.
BE MINDFUL AT BARBECUES
Barbecues are almost a requirement for Independence Day but a lot times the food is full of calories, fat and sugar. To keep from eating too much, Fava suggest making sure you eat breakfast and snacks before attending the barbecue. She said it’s never a good idea to go hungry.
Another idea is to bring a healthier dish that everyone can enjoy like salad, sliced veggies and hummus, and a fruit salad. Also bring lean protein options like fish, chicken and turkey to grill.
“Just so you have at least some type of healthy option and still enjoy the other food that’s there but take smaller portions,” Fava said.
ALWAYS EAT BREAKFAST
Skipping meals can be hardly noticeable when thinking about all your other tasks while travelling but it’s still very important to eat breakfast. If the hotel you’re staying in has a refrigerator, find a local market or grocery store to shop at. Purchase items like low-fat Greek yogurt, fruit, wheat toast, peanut butter and bananas. If you have the time, you can even make a quick healthy smoothie to drink on the go.
Although it can be more difficult, getting enough fiber while travelling is important for healthy eating. Make sure to get enough produce in you daily diet by visiting a local farmers market or grocery store to load up on veggies and fruit. Fava said this is the time of year to focus on seasonal produce which is cheaper to buy.
MAKE SMART CHOICES WHEN EATING OUT
Usually sometime during the vacation, people will venture out to a restaurant. Even before you go to the restaurant, look online at the menu options.
“You can always look to see what are better choices to make,” Fava said.
She advises avoiding foods with the words fried or smothered in the description and eating foods that are grilled as well as lean protein options. When eating out, always try to get some type of vegetables whether it’s a salad or a side of asparagus. Half of your plate should really be vegetables, Fava said. She said avoid eating more than a fistful of starchy foods like potatoes, pasta and rice. Get dressings and sauces on the side so not to over indulge. If you really want dessert then have a healthier option for your meal.
Don’t let long hours in the car or on the plane prevent you from getting physical exercise while travelling. Fava suggest taking a walk on the beach or go swimming as a family.
“Just keep moving,” she said.
She said most people have an app on their phone with the ability to track their steps. Even when away from home, still try to get the recommended 10,000 steps a day.
For more about Giant, visit giantfoodstores.com.