[Photos: Angela Simpson]
Going away on a trip for spring break? Just because you’ll be away, it doesn’t mean you have to surrender to less-nutritious choices than you would if you were in your own kitchen.
True, it may not be as easy to make the meals you usually enjoy, but here are seven easy tips for maintaining a healthy diet while enjoying your vacation at the same time.
1. Get to know your surroundings
Thanks to Google, food blogs, and restaurant review sites like UrbanSpoon, OpenTable, and Trip Advisor, it’s really easy to find healthy and delicious places to eat before you arrive. Pick a few spots near where you’ll be and map them out so you won’t be left scrambling to look for healthy options when you arrive.
2. Start with a healthy pre-boarding meal
Although airports and airlines are getting better at providing nutritious food options, I don’t like to leave this to chance. A lot of what is served on planes is high in sodium which can cause bloating and that’s the last thing you want on a long-haul flight. Instead, try packing a meal to enjoy at the airport while you wait. Mine is typically a big mix of the following:
A gluten-free whole grain or starchy carb source like quinoa, rice, or diced roasted sweet potato
A protein source such as canned tuna, roasted chicken, tempeh or shelled edamame
Herbs such as parsley and basil, for extra flavour
A few nuts and seeds for extra crunch
A light dressing such as balsamic vinegar and olive oil or tahini mixed with fresh orange juice
I’d recommend avoiding things like onions, cruciferous vegetables and beans for this meal because these foods are known for producing gas during digestion. Choose other options for your own comfort and the benefit of others sitting next to you!
3. Bring some portable snacks
As a food blogger, I’ll admit I think about packing snacks before a single article of clothing goes into my suitcase. I often have fruits or vegetable slices on hand. Hummus, dried fruits and nuts, crackers and protein bars are great options too. If you have nausea or digestive problems, ginger chews are a fantastic remedy.
Depending on where you’re travelling, you may not be able to carry fresh produce and even some packaged food items with you. Some border customs are very strict with this, so be sure to check before you pack.
Step 4: Find a grocery store
If possible, stock up on a few groceries when you reach your destination. If your hotel room has a mini-kitchen or fridge, stock it with items like pre-chopped veggies, fruits, yogurt, hummus, salsa, tuna, crackers and oatmeal.
If you’re lucky enough to have a Whole Foods nearby, or another grocery store that has pre-made salads or a salad bar, you can package up a few things for yourself and store those in your fridge as well. Not having access to a cutting board and knife isn’t a good excuse for skipping your greens!
Step 5: Order smart at restaurants
When looking at restaurant menus, treat them just like you would when eating at a restaurant at home. Look for dishes that are baked, grilled, raw, braised and steamed rather than those that are sautéed, deep fried, battered, or labelled ‘crispy’. Be conscious of portion sizes, stop when you’re full, and get the rest of your meal boxed up to take back to your hotel if you like.
6. Stay hydrated
Sometimes we forget to drink enough water while we’re on the go, so pack an empty water bottle your hand luggage. Once you clear airport security, fill it up and drink regularly on your flight. While you’re exploring at your destination, carry it with you and be sure to refill it at least a few times each day. Not only will this help you stay hydrated, but it’ll also keep your appetite in check.
7. Make time for exercise
Do you ever find that incorporating exercise into your day helps to motivate you to eat clean too? Take advantage of this knock-on effect while you’re on vacation. Don’t stress about missing your regular workouts, but keep active by exploring by foot, doing a quick hotel room workout or testing out the hotel’s gym. If you’re travelling somewhere with a beach, walks along the shore and splashing around in the ocean are almost effortless ways to get a little exercise each day.
One of my favourite ways to learn about new cities is to go on a run through them or explore by taking a long walk. A tool I use for finding safe, well-travelled routes is Map My Run. You’ll find a bunch of different routes and trails mapped by other runners in cities all over the world. Whether you’re walking, running, cycling, or otherwise, it’s a really useful resource for finding areas that are safe for pedestrians.
Lastly, if you can’t find healthy options at every meal, don’t stress about it. Holidays are meant to be fun, so be sure to let yourself enjoy a few treats too. Safe travels, and have a great trip!
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