Eating on the go does not have to derail your health and weight loss efforts. Being prepared and having a strategic plan will allow you to travel and to eat out at almost any restaurant and still stay on track.
I’m on vacation in Florida as I write this. My family and I began our drive down here from Ontario just over a week ago, staying in a few different hotels on the way down to break up the drive, landed in Disney Springs for two days, and ended up at our current resort here in Orlando last Saturday.
We’ll stay here for a week and then hop on a ship and sail over the Caribbean ocean with seven days with an all-you-can eat mentality.
Why am I sharing all of this with you?
Because, when you do your best to eat healthy whatever given situation you’re in at the time, and your given situation is going to be varied and changing over the next 20 days….you have to do some planning!
Eating on the go can be tough when you want to eat healthy. You can’t always be perfect...that’s a given, but it’s extra tough when you’re on the go for an extended period of time.
I packed a LOT of healthy snacks for our drive here, as well as to have down by the pool or when we’re out and about.
Take my day at Disney’s Magic Kingdom for example - I brought plenty of healthy snacks along in our backpack to help us through long lineups, and so that we wouldn’t be stuck eating junk ALL day long. I knew we were going to be eating out for lunch and dinner, so I wanted to ensure we had ‘something’ nutritious during the day.
My choices for lunch were: hot dog, pork ribs or a gigantic turkey leg. Hmmm...given those choices, I went for the turkey leg with a side of coleslaw minus the creamy dressing. That turkey leg was half the size of my 10 yr old (slight exaggeration only) and had a lot more flavouring and colouring than I’m used to.
For dinner, I was able to find a feta-greek salad with chicken and asked for the dressing on the side. Not too bad, despite the iceberg lettuce. I did what I could.
Today I’m beginning my day with a protein smoothie with fruits and veggies in it, and will start over.
Now, the pool is calling my name and it’s time to head out for the day. Before I do, I want to share some tips with you for eating on the go….
TIP 1 - Plan ahead: GPS some healthy pit stops along your route. A grocery store is a great place to pick up fruit and cut veggies to munch on. If dining out, most restaurants have their menus online and some even have the nutritional info posted (chains mostly). Go online, search for the nutrition information of the restaurant you want to go to, and plan out your choices.
Tip 2 - Pack snacks. There's no need to stop for food. Keep a few healthy snacks in the car for long rides or bad traffic. A trail mix of seeds, nuts and dried fruit is an easy, non-perishable option. Granola bars with protein and less than 6 grams of sugar also work.
TIP 3 - Drink please! Keep a filled water bottle in the car too. We often think we're hungry when we are just thirsty. If at a restaurant, try ordering a warm drink first thing such as hot water with some fresh lemon slices. You’ll be surprised how this warm calming drink can fill you up and soothe the craving/hunger beast. Herbal tea is also a great option while coffee tends to throw off blood sugar levels and may lead to cravings and bad decisions later on.
TIP 4 - Be an assertive orderer: Don’t be afraid to modify the menu. Trust me, in this age of “nutritionism”, waiters are used to it. My son and I are both gluten-free and dairy-free, so asking questions about the menu is a given for us. You’d be surprised at how many restaurants are exceptionally accommodating. Ask questions and know the terminology. Grilled, steamed, broiled, boiled and baked are fine but beware of terms such as creamy, smothered, lightly breaded, deep fried. Ask for sauces on the side and leave out the fries/rice/pasta/potatoes that usually come with the main and ask for extra veggies instead (most restaurants are happy to do this).
TIP 5 - Start with soup or salad: both can be filling and satisfying. Order the dressing on the side and dip your fork lightly in the dressing before every forkful. Stay with non-creamy soups. Ask the server if dairy is added. That will let you know if they add cream or cheese (you can even tell your server that you are lactose intolerant to make sure they don’t add cream or cheese) When choosing your salad, remember the darker the leaves, the more nutrients they contain.
TIP 6 - Appetizers as the main course: Try ordering from the appetizer menu if you don’t find anything you want on the main menu such as grilled calamari, Caprese salad, or shrimp cocktail. Ordering from the appetizer menu ensures smaller portions and is less expensive.
TIP 7 - Liquor Control: Alcohol can stimulate hunger so never drink on an empty stomach (really throws off blood sugar) and try to follow the 1:1 rule; follow a glass of wine with a full glass of water. Even try to cut the wine with ½ club soda or Perrier in a wine Spritzer or mix vodka with soda water. Red wine actually contains some health benefits, like antioxidants, but remember that after 1 or 2 glasses, the harm outweighs the benefits.
TIP 8 - Portion Control/Leftovers for the next day: Most restaurants provide huge portions-take a look at the size of the plate or bowl! Eyeball your serving size (palm of your hand) and divide your portion accordingly. Make a mental note to have the rest packed-up for home, or better yet, ask the waiter for a to-go container and box it up right away. Bonus: Less for you to cook the next day.
TIP 9 – Eat protein before a long trip. Protein helps to stabilize blood sugar which, in turn curbs hunger. Eat a meal with protein before embarking on a long journey.
TIP 10 – Keep to regular meal intervals. Eat a meal every 4-5 hours regardless of time zone changes. If the journey doesn't allow for a real meal, be prepared with a substantial snack like seeds, nuts, dried fruit or cheese.
Until next time,
May Anne Jordens-LaFlamme is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and the owner of "Wellness with May Anne." She is passionate about helping women look and feel their best, so they can live a more fulfilling life - without dieting, deprivation, relying on willpower or cooking separate meals for the family.