by Stephanie Viele, Heath and Wellness Coach at Integrated Wellness Center
Summer is here, and it is fabulous. This season usually brings with it the well-deserved family vacation, which we love everything about . . . except those extra pounds that tend to come with it. This year, let’s make a pact to bring home only the souvenirs we really want.
So how are we going to make that happen? My biggest tip is to plan ahead. This sounds simple, and it really is: by planning ahead, packing healthy snacks and meals from home, and researching online for the best options you will have while traveling. Try to skip the usual fast food and utilize local restaurants, grocery stores, and home-prepared meals at beautiful parks to enjoy on your journey. These options are the first steps to making great choices on the road.
Having healthy snacks with you at all times is key to happy traveling. Being away from home means less control, so being ready is our best defense. Don’t let hunger junk you: Stay on top of it. When we get past the hungry stage and move into “hangry,” we tend to make poor choices. Hangry is a term my friends and family use for me (I think it’s a term of affection?). Anyway, I know what I’m talking about. Supply snacks.
Hydration also is essential to staying healthy on the road. Pack at least one water bottle for each member of the family, including pets, and refill them as often as possible. Staying properly hydrated will keep hunger at bay and help with cravings, hot weather, exercise, and even jet lag. Remember to throw in some fruit and herbs for flavor. Who would choose a cola from the gas station over fresh strawberry-mint water? I mean, really? In the long-run, sugar and caffeine make stress and agitation worse. Water is your best friend. If you are traveling by air, pack empty water bottles and fill them as soon as you are off the plane.
For our vacation, we are planning ahead and packing a cooler. I like to use frozen water bottles as ice. That way you end up with cold drinking water instead of a puddle to pour out.
We are going to fill our coolers with a plethora of healthy choices. Get creative. The sky is the limit:
- fresh fruit and vegetables precut when needed (talk about original fast food);
- dried fruit;
- nuts and seeds;
- trail mix (make your own so you are in control of the ingredients);
- whole grain crackers;
- nut butters and hummus for dipping;
- sandwiches and wraps;
- soup in a thermos (makes for a great one-handed meal);
- salad (layer the heaviest ingredients on the bottom, with the greens on the top);
- frozen smoothies and green juice (which will thaw out and be ready when you are);
- small yogurts and cheese sticks; and
- hard-boiled eggs.
I’m sure some of you are thinking this is too much work, but it really isn’t. Think of it as pre-loading for a great trip. You will save so much time and money not having to scramble and find the “best of the worst” offerings on the road, trying to make everyone happy, and not leaving you feeling like a blimp. When you pack your own food, you have the ability to picnic in a beautiful park, relax, stretch, and fully experience your journey.
When you know you will need to take advantage of the options on the road, plan ahead about where you want to go. I suggest utilizing grocery stores with salad bars and healthy deli options. They usually have all of the healthy options listed above. When you are ordering from a restaurant menu, remember that you can ask for healthy substitutions (maybe two side salads?). Order baked or broiled rather than fried items, skip the cream-based soups and dressings, and ignore the “freebies” like the bread baskets, refills, and kid snacks. They are free because they are cheap and not good for you. Try sharing an entree or eating half and saving the leftovers for another meal (there’s another handy use for your cooler). When you do find yourself in a fast food restaurant, avoid super-sizing. But you knew that.
Wherever you find yourself this summer, I hope you love every minute of it. Remember that healthy eating isn’t about counting calories and managing guilt; it’s about choosing whole, unprocessed food when you are given the choice. Make a commitment to yourself to look ahead at your options, plan healthy meals when you can, keep quality snacks with you, and when you do choose to indulge really enjoy.
- To Your Health: Hydration—Why It Matters and How Much You Really Need
- To Your Health: The Best Cooking Oils and How and When to Use Them
- To Your Health: Get a Nutrition Blast with Juicing and Smoothies
- To Your Health: Spring-Clean Your Body with These Detoxifying Foods
Photos courtesy of FiltergForge, Anotherlunch, and Gaurav Mishra.