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You've been exercising hard and watching your diet — and you're getting results. But now that summer travel season is here, your good habits are at risk. Here's how to eat healthy when you're on the go.
Healthy Eating on a Cross-Country Flight
Safe bet: Split a snack box with a travel companion. The 580-calorie Rightbite from United Airlines is filled with tuna, hummus, baked pita chips, raisins and organic crackers. Or get a low-calorie snack like the turkey sandwich with light mayo from Continental Airlines (offered on flights over three hours). It comes with a small bag of carrots and a fun-size candy bar that will only cost you 285 calories. Delta offers a Clif Mojo Bar that's high in protein (8g) and will tide you over for 200 calories.
Steer clear: Avoid salty snacks, which dehydrate you in the already dry cabin air. Also beware of high-sugar, high-fat treats that pack the equivalent of a meal but leave you feeling unsatisfied.
Bring Your Own Snacks
The healthiest option is always to bring your own travel snacks. Try these tasty treats:
- • For car travel, bring a cooler with fresh fruit that's easy to pack, such as apples, bananas or grapes.
- • Prepare individual servings of dried fruit; be sure to follow the serving size on the label.
- • Cut up raw veggies; they provide good fiber and a nice crunch.
- • Freeze individual cartons of low-fat yogurt ahead of time for a refreshing and healthy treat.
- • Pack single-serving sizes of your favorite high-fiber cereal in sandwich bags.
Smart Eating When Stuck at an Airport
Safe bet: When your only choice is a terminal newsstand, opt for trail mix or a low-fat, high-protien energy bar as a travel snack. But, warns Lauren Antonucci, a registered dietician and the director of Nutrition Energy in New York City, follow the serving size on the trail mix (typically about a quarter cup or a palmful) and pass what's left on to a neighbor to avoid calorie overload.
Steer clear: If a coffee shop is an option, beware of added calorie traps: "Whole milk, flavored syrups and whipped cream can add 300 or more calories to your beverage," Antonucci says. Instead choose bottled water to stay hydrated while traveling.
Healthy Options on the Road
Safe bet: For a quick bite, stop by a mini-mart and head directly to the refrigerator section where you can find low-fat string cheese, fat-free yogurt or fresh fruit. For a meal, look for fast-food restaurants that offer salads with grilled — not fried — chicken and low-fat or fat-free dressing as healthy alternatives. Dr. Lisa Ritchie, associate professor in the department of family and consumer sciences at Harding University in Arkansas, also suggests a baked potato topped with chili to get 15% of your daily serving for fiber. "Pair that with water and lemon or a diet carbonated beverage," she says. "Compared with a 20-ounce regular soda, the diet option will save more than 200 calories."
Steer clear: Avoid anything that's extra meaty, supersize, fried or sugary.
Smart Snacking in Strangetown, USA
Safe bet: At the local diner, look for baked or broiled chicken or fish and steamed veggies. "Do not be afraid to ask questions," Antonucci says. "'How is that prepared?' 'What's the vegetable of the day?' 'Can I get a baked potato instead of fries?'"
Steer clear: Avoid inhaling huge portion sizes by splitting an entrée with your travel companion. "High-fat, high-cal items will leave you feeling guilty, sluggish and sleepy for the rest of the drive," Antonucci says.
Keep it Healthy At the Beach
Safe bet: "Remember, you are on vacation to relax, unwind and enjoy — not to stress out or feel guilty after making bad food choices," Antonucci says. Start the day with a filling breakfast — say, an egg-white omelet with fruit and whole-wheat toast — to avoid a bad decision at the beachside café. Stay hydrated with water and fresh-fruit smoothies.
Steer clear: Sure, the beach may seem better with a drink in your hand, but splurging on sugary mixed drinks (piña coladas, margaritas) will cost you two to four times the calories of a glass of beer or wine, Antonucci says.
And don't forget to hit the gym if your travel plans allow it! You can find a Gold's Gym in all 50 states and many International countries.