Whether on vacation with the kids at Disney (did you hear about their recent junk food ad ban?
) or on a tropical getaway with your significant other, it can be hard to balance eating healthy with having fun. The name of the game? Family favorites that are portable, nutritious and delicious.
Before you leave:
Stock up on healthy snacks before you head out of the driveway.
Pack the cooler with portable fruits like grapes, bananas, apples, oranges, cherries, and strawberries. Add family friendly veggies like radishes, snap peas, carrots, cherry tomatoes and celery along with a container of hummus, peanut butter or bean dip for a quick punch of protein. String cheese and whole grain crackers, nuts with dried fruit or a good old turkey sandwich or wrap make healthy, portable snacks, too. Throw in a few handfuls of high-fiber cereal or even a hard boiled egg to munch on while driving or flying to your destination. Don’t forget the ice packs!
When it comes to water, stash it everywhere--in the trunk, the glove box, the kids’ backpacks and the cooler. At the airport, unpack that reusable water bottle and fill it with water from the fountain or buy a bottle of water (or two) to carry on the plane. Staying hydrated is a key to feeling great while traveling.
On the drive:
Got a smartphone?
Search for healthy restaurants, grocery stores or famer’s markets on the road using specific apps such as Yelp
, My Kids Eat Free
. Tasting “local” food is a great way to immerse yourself in the culture and people of a new location.
Are you less adventurous when it comes to food? Look for restaurants and/or menus that are familiar to you and your family. If you’ve dined there before, you’ll know what the options are and can feel confident making healthy choices.
It’s often that you won’t see signs of life for miles upon miles while on a road trip. When you do see that random convenience store, stop! Mini-marts carry a plethora of healthy options now, including energy bars, fresh fruit, low fat milk, 100 percent fruit juice, low-fat yogurt and Greek yogurt. Go for the prepared salads-the dressings are “on-the-side” which allows you to manage those extra calories.
If available, take advantage of the breakfast buffet offered by your hotel. Whole grain breads/waffles, yogurt, eggs, whole fruit and oatmeal are often offered each day. Be sure to snag a piece of fruit or two for a snack later in the day.
If mini-bars are too tantalizing for you, ask the hotel to remove it (or the high calorie offenders) from your room. Chances are, they’ll have healthier options for you if you just ask.
If the hotel offers shuttle service, have them drop you at the nearest grocery store. Purchase your must-have healthy items and keep them in the room. Use the mini fridge to keep the perishable items cold.
If you’re staying with friends or family members, don’t be shy about letting them know what kinds of foods you’d like them to have on hand. Or, offer to do a grocery run and pick up the items yourself.
Tips for a healthy journey:
- Stay regular. Yes, THAT kind of regular. Nobody wants to be dealing with a finicky stomach while on vacation. Drink lots of water, fill up on fiber rich foods and walk, walk, walk!
- Enjoy your food. At home, we often speed-eat and can’t even tell what’s in our mouth. Slow down, relax and savor every bite of the “local” food.
- Pack exercise clothes or at least walking shoes. There is always a way to exercise while on vacation -- no matter where you are or how you got there! Check out walking paths, the hotel gym, and a walking tour of the city. During the summer, the pool is always great for a quick dip. On a cruise? Be sure to take advantage of the track available on most ships – it’s open 24/7 for all passengers.
Regardless of what the scale says when you return, don’t let it be the barometer of your fun-filled vacation. Remember the great times, enjoy the photos and start planning your next healthy vacation!
Robin Plotkin, RD, LD, knows the challenges of getting a fast, healthy and tasty meal on the table. As a registered dietitian and a mom, Robin provides realistic tools and resources for families in need of stress-free meal times. Follow her blog at: www.robinsbite.com