#WellnessWeds: Traveling on Vacation? Here’s How to Make Healthy Food Choices

Vacations and travelling can be exciting, but also a bit stressful if you don’t prioritize and plan ahead. There’s making sure everything is packed (especially if kids are involved), lists galore and the next challenge… food and what to eat on the road. 

Whether it’s a road trip, a train ride or flying on a plane, there is one common denominator for a successful trip: planning and preparation! It may take a little more time initially, but trust me; it will be well worth the effort. Planning ahead allows more flexibility with food choices because you did your homework. 

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Hopefully your vacation isn’t as crazy as the classic comedy with John Candy and Steve Martin, but if you anticipate a bumpy ride, planning out restaurant and fast food chains you are more than likely to encounter will help smooth things out. Researching food options ahead of time will help you to choose healthier foods while traveling. 

I like to have an idea of how “expensive” food is in terms of calories and whether or not it would be worth eating. Here are some websites I like to use to check the calorie content of some of my favorite foods at restaurants and fast food chains: 

  • Calorie King — Not only does Calorie King list calories for fast food chains, it also lists calorie totals for categories like carnival foods, international foods, snacks, fruits and frozen or packaged foods. A great site to bookmark in your browser. 
  • Diet Facts — This site has calorie and nutrition facts for the most popular foods at 521 restaurants. The food chains are listed alphabetically, making it very user friendly and informative. 
  • Restaurant Nutrition by Unified Lifestyle and Calorie Counter by FatSecret (both free from the Android market) are two popular mobile apps that can help you keep track of eating-out calories while on the run. 

Road Food 101

Here are some general tips to keep in mind when eating out: 

  • Toppings: These can add a lot of calories. Mayo and cheese alone can add an extra 200 calories to one sandwich or burger!
  • Size Matters: Even though we live in a SuperSize Nation, don’t live like that when eating. Large portions, or too much food, are a major contributor to our obesity epidemic. 
  • Keep it Clear: Choose soups that are broth-based and red sauces for pasta dishes. The thing to remember here is to choose the white and creamy sauces and condiments very sparingly, if at all, as they add a lot of unnecessary calories and few nutrients. 

Also remember to: 

  • Eat slowly and savor each bite. It takes 20 minutes for your brain to tell your stomach that it is full. A trick that works for this is to you put your fork down between each bite. This slows the eating process and gives your brain a chance to really register that the stomach is full. This obviously helps to avoid overeating during meals.
  • Ask for a to-go box right when you order. Once your food arrives, immediately put half of your meal into the box.
  • Share a meal with a dining partner.
  • Ask for meals to be specially prepared for you. Ask for no butter on your toast, no oil on the grill when cooking your food or for extra veggies for toppings. A lot of restaurants make the food fresh anyway, so customization shouldn’t be a problem. 

Here are more great tips on making healthier fast-food choices.

Do you have favorite healthy foods to eat while travelling? 

Photo credit: jonrawlinson

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