(NC) We've all experienced the symptoms of a post-vacation food hangover. Road trips, long flights and hotel stays make it difficult to stick to a nutritious eating routine, while overindulgence in sugary cocktails, greasy food or buffet fare doesn't help either.
Fortunately, Nema McGlynn, registered dietitian at Loblaws, believes vacations don't need to be synonymous with diet disasters. Here are her top tips:
1. Be mindful of food choices. Remember that if most of your dining choices are energy-dense and nutrient poor, you're likely going to feel bad once you get back to the office or school. “Instead, pick out your top restaurants, look at the menus and map out what to have ahead of time so you can balance out heavier meals with lighter ones,” recommends McGlynn. Take your time at meals. You're on vacation, so slow down and savour every bite, take in aromas, and pay attention to plating techniques and unusual food combinations.
2. Aim for a salad a day. You may not always have this option at restaurants and they tend to be overdressed and expensive, but check nearby grocery stores for prewashed bags of greens or chopped veggies that you can keep in your hotel room fridge. “If you don't have a fridge, many grocery stores and markets offer fresh veggies and fruit you can eat on the spot,” says McGlynn.
3. Keep nutritious snacks handy. Plan ahead and bring snacks like mini peppers or cucumbers, apples, bananas, pears, dried fruits, roasted chickpeas or edamame, and pre-portioned nuts or seeds. For airplane rides, avoid high fat, high fibre and starchy foods like avocados, cream sauces, potatoes and bran since they take longer to digest. Also skip gas-producing foods like broccoli, beans, peas and carbonated beverages.
4. Drink before you eat. Dehydration is common while on vacation and can lead to overeating. Try to drink a glass or two of water before every meal and snack, which may help curb your appetite. You can even aim to have one after your meal. If you want to consume alcohol, go for half pints of beer, five versus nine ounce glasses of wine, and keep a close eye on what you're using for mix since many are full of sugar.
5. Build in Activity. “There's no reason you can't build exercise into your vacation,” says Nema. “For beach vacations, swim, surf or play beach volleyball. While camping, chop wood, canoe or go for a nature walk.” During cultural excursions, walk or bike to attractions instead of taking a bus or taxi to burn a few more calories. You may even discover some of those off-the-beaten path spots you would have otherwise missed.