A common complaint from people returning from vacation is that their pants no longer fit. We talked to the experts on simple ways to enjoy your trip without tipping the scale. Try these six food hacks on your next travel adventure and you might just be surprised by the results.
Skip the pasta and order the seafood. Why? “Most seafood contains a higher ratio of healthy, anti-inflammatory Omega-3s that you likely are not getting as much of while you are on vacation,” says Skylar Buchanan, a holistic nutritionist and certified integrative nutrition coach based in Las Vegas, Nevada. She explains that Omega-3s will help combat any inflammation that may arise from foods you are eating that are not a normal part of your diet.
Ask for modifications
Do you really just want a giant salad with a piece of grilled fish, but it’s not on the menu? “Most restaurants are happy to modify a dish to meet your needs,” says Buchanan. If they offer both foods on the menu, they will likely be more than willing to put that together for you. Do not be afraid to ask for what you need to eat healthy.
Stop at the grocery store
Your first stop when you’re in your new destination should be the grocery store, so you can pick up some healthy snacks. Hard-boiled eggs are a great option. “Most grocery stores sell packaged hard-boiled eggs located near the rest of the eggs,” notes Buchanan. “These are the MVPs for traveling—no prep is required and they are healthy and full of protein.” Another good option is pre-cut veggies along with a single serving size of hummus.
Pair the right foods
Berries, apples, and pears are your best options for snacking, says Alicia Galvin, RD and resident dietitian for Sovereign Laboratories, but always pair fruit with protein and fat to stabilize blood sugar levels. (Good options include nuts, nut butter, and hard-boiled eggs.) Make sure to eat balanced meals and snacks during the day. Galvin says aim for a fat + protein + fiber every time you eat. “So, for example, an apple with nut butter, a hard-boiled egg with avocado, or whole-milk Greek yogurt with a few nuts and berries. Try to avoid eating just a piece of fruit or snacking on chips or crackers as this will cause blood sugar to spike and then fall, leading to cravings and a tendency to overeat.”
Overpack healthy snacks
“Fueling your body consistently is so important, and you’re less likely to overeat if you stay fueled,” says Dr. Goglia, a certified nutritionist. A good way to do this is not to skip meals, but instead pack plenty of healthy snacks so you always have good food options at hand. Also, Goglia recommends that travelers—before their flight—buy the biggest water bottle they can find. This will encourage them to drink often during the flight. (If you bring your own water bottle, don’t be afraid to ask for refills). Drinking water is important every day, but especially important for people who are traveling. “Water enables nutrients to get to your cells, helps with swelling that can happen on long flights, and helps to create the proper balance of salts and bile in order to extract toxins in the form of waste products.” Which is a nice way of saying it keeps you regular and wards off constipation.
“Think about your meal schedule and options in advance so you are not making last-minute, impulsive choices while hangry and tired,” says Brenda Braslow, RD for MyNetDiary. She suggests that travelers pick a hotel or condo with a kitchen so you can prepare some of your meals yourself. Research in advance where the nearest grocery store is located so you can stock up on some healthy foods. “If you know you are going to splurge at a particular meal, lighten up the rest of the day and try to get some more physical activity in,” says Braslow. Plan activities that will keep you active, like walking tours, golfing, or bicycling. Also, it’s a good idea to download a calorie-tracking app and enter foods as you eat them. “It just helps you eat mindfully and make informed choices, even when you’re traveling.”