Vacations are often the kryptonite to a healthy diet. You’re doing good, sticking to your meal plan, counting your calories, and…bam! You go on a trip away from home. Meals consist of grease and deep-fried everything, and you head home bloated and five-pounds heavier just in time to do a 3-day vegan cleanse to repent for your travel sins.
I know this feeling all too well, and I know how disgusting I feel even midway through my trips if this is what my diet has become.
Luckily, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Even though “calories don’t count” while on vacation (or on holidays, or on your birthday, or on your friends’ birthdays, etc.), it is possible to keep up with your daily health and make healthy dining choices on each and every trip. Here are some tips to keep your gut from falling into the toilet during your next vacation:
Plan Your Meals In Advance
This is the most important step to eating healthy while on a trip. My friends and I have always planned our trips around meals, and not necessarily healthy meals. We will select in advance where we want to eat dinner each evening, and then we plan our trip around those dinner destinations.
Since we are in the age of modern technology, this also means that you will have access to each restaurant’s dinner menu before you even leave the comfort of your house. This is important. Pull up the menu for each of your dinner destinations, and create a Note in your phone.
Take a few minutes to look through each menu, and select your meal of choice from that restaurant. Look for grilled options or “healthy selections”. Create combinations of food that promote gut health and heart health. If you fancy an adult beverage with your meals, select that now, too.
In your phone, type the name of the restaurant and your entire meal (beverage and all) underneath it. You can also add the prices.
Now, when you are in the moment, smelling those crispy fries in the air, you won’t decide to just say “screw it” and order the fries. You can pull up your Notes app, read off your order, and feel sweet relief in knowing that you are eating the best meal for you.
Bring Healthy Snacks And Meals In Your Luggage
This is the second-most-important priority in planning your trip’s meals. You’ve already planned out your dinners, but what about breakfast and lunch?
Look at what each day has in store for you, and bring snacks and/or meals to fill you up for those.
If you will be at a conference or in an environment where you can go to your room for lunches, ask in advance to have access to a refrigerator and a microwave, or bring amenities like a coffee pot or a rice maker. Bring healthy breakfast and lunch options to eat in your room. This keeps you from running off to the food court for each meal. Even most TV dinners are far healthier than the standard food court meal (and they are a lot cheaper, too).
If you will be on-the-go, bringing full meals isn’t an option. Instead, load up with healthy options like granola bars, sugar-free Jell-O, and homemade kale chips. Snack on these throughout the day, and that will prevent you from pigging out when you finally are able to grab lunch.
Making Healthy Drive-Thru Decisions
If you are on the go, a fast-food drive-thru will likely be a given, especially while on a road trip. Since drive-thru experiences are typically spontaneous, there is not a way to plan that meal in advance. However, there are still some methods to the madness to make the best out of the instant window.
Look at the menu for grilled chicken options. If you’re not one for chicken, look for lean beef. Whatever you select, it needs to be unbreaded and come with fresh veggies on the sandwich. Order this.
Most meals come with fries. Instead, order your grilled sandwich as an entree, and look for options like fresh fruit, a side salad, or granola to substitute for fries. Select a medium-sized beverage that is uncarbonated like water, lemonade, or unsweetened tea.
When you receive your meal, remove the top bun from your sandwich and throw it away (or feed it to some ducks or something). Eat your sandwich with only the bottom bun. This leaves just a small piece of bread, grilled protein, and fresh veggies…which is a helluva lot less calories than a normal fried meal contains.
Bottom Line: It’s Not Just For Travel
These tips are not just for your next vacation; they are great for everyday practice as well. Plan out your meals in advance, whether they are homemade or in a restaurant. Knowing what you plan to eat before it is time to eat helps to keep you on track for your goals.
Once you know your dinner (a.k.a. the major meal of the day), plan your breakfast and lunch around it. If you know that your boss is taking you to a company lunch, select your breakfast and dinner to complement that meal.
And should you find yourself in a fast-food drive-thru, start selecting the grilled options and remove the bun! And select fruits, veggies, or nuts instead of fries. Your body, your mind, and your spirit will all thank you for selecting healthy options for your everyday living, no matter where you dine.