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Adventures in Healthy Eating: Learn to Travel Lightly

Tips for eating healthy during your next vacation

by Heather Stefan, RD  |  4736 views  |  1 comment  |        Rate this now! 

Summer is a great time to think "vacations!"  With food temptations lurking around every corner, it hard to think about eating healthy while away on a trip.  Whether you are taking a family road trip or flying to a unique destination, there is no reason why you should give up on making healthy decisions. The key to make your vacation a nutrition success is to find a balance between simple indulgences and large portions and high-fat food options.

1.) Family road trip: Leave on a full tank. Whether you are setting off to an undetermined location or know exactly where your destination will be, a little planning gets you a long way.  Always start off your trip after a light meal or a snack.  This will give you energy for the long haul. 

When planning your meals, roadside restaurants and fast food stops usually specialize in greasy, high-fat food options.  If you pick healthier options, like small sandwiches or mixed green salads with grilled chicken, you reduce calories and fat grams. 

Instead of stopping at a restaurant, take packed meals and snacks in a cooler.  Stop at a roadside rest area and have a picnic.  It's a great way to stretch your legs and take in some fresh air.  If you have kids, it's a good way to help them burn off some much needed energy. As for snacks, bottled water, trail mix, peanut butter sandwiches, yogurt, and fresh fruit are easy convenience items that you can take with you.

But don't get in the habit of snacking your way through the boredom of your long drive.  Sip on water or chew sugarless gum to help control those nagging signs.  Also, stay clear of filling up on soda pop and coffee drinks.  They are full of empty calories with little nutritional benefits and they are generally high in calories.  

2.) Flying healthy. With the soaring costs of gas prices, flying may be your best bet when traveling.  With so many safety regulations at the airports, knowing what you can and can't have may keep you from packing healthy snack foods and relying on airport food courts and restaurants. 

Since mealtimes are often short at the airport, bringing food to eat at the gate is a timesaving option.  Whether you buy it there or bring it from home (inside your carry-on with the allotted amount of luggage and carry-on liquids) you can control your food options with items like a sandwich, veggies, and broth.  Also, remember to stay hydrated; flying can lead to dehydration.  Choose water or 100-percent juice over pop and alcohol.  And, peanuts will satisfy you better than the pretzels! 

3.) Arriving at Your destination. Whether your staying at a hotel, an all-inclusive resort, a condo, or a cabin, you can tailor your trip around an eating plan that is right for you.  If your hotel offers a continental breakfast, pick yogurt, fresh fruit, cereal and low-fat milk as your options.  At an all-inclusive resort or cruise, you may find yourself pigging out just because you can.  Pick and choose your battles!  If there are foods that you don’t have often, pick those over your everyday foods.  And watch your portions -- try small amounts of those high-fat rich foods and load your plate with fresh fruit, vegetables, and lean proteins like grilled fish.

About the Author

Heather is a private practice dietitian and nutrition coach licensed with Real Living Nutrition Servics. She is also a work-at-home mom. You can visit her website at

Read more by Heather Stefan, RD

1 comment so far...

  • Great suggestions. But snacking in the car is so fun!! Okay, okay, I've been meaning to invest in a cooler for road trips. :)

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Diane on 4th July 2008