My mom and I recently traveled out of town to visit my grandma in honor of her 94th birthday! I knew I wouldn’t be able to cook/bake the types of foods I would want while visiting but I also knew I didn’t want to completely ruin my ‘lifestyle’ while out of town. I admit, one night we had pizza and of course cake (we were celebrating a birthday after all) so I made sure to fully enjoy every bite of that pizza and savor every bite of that cake But I didn’t let that get in the way of my healthy lifestyle. And that is what inspired this post. Whenever we go out or town to visit family, I always worry about my diet. Especially around the holidays. And I know I’m not the only one who struggles with this. So I thought a few tips may help others Struggling with this same predicament:
1) come prepared
I knew ahead or time that my mom and I would be staying for at least a few days (which ended up turning into a week) so I decided to come prepared. Ahead of time I made a homemade whole grain granola, apple oatmeal bake, and sweet potato banana breakfast cookies. I’m a snacker and I knew I would want my own snacks to grab. When I know what I’m going to eat ahead of time, I’m less likely to make poor choices. I also make sure I have snacks in my purse at all times so I’m less tempted to stop on the road and eat things I shouldn’t.
2) try to stick with your regular exercise schedule
Now I admit I did not do this. I wasn’t about to lug my weights to my relatives house. I did have every intention of still doing body weight bearing exercises but I ended up injuring my leg and putting myself out of commission. So I instead spent the week recuperating which I guess worked out. I would be much more tempted to continue working out if I had been at home surrounded by my weights and exercise equipment. But my point here was that just because you are on holiday or out of town, does not mean that you can’t necessarily still do some body weight bearing exercises, go for a run, or go for a walk. Burning some extra calories will also help make you feel less guilty if you do give in to that extra slice of pizza at dinner or some cookies for dessert.
3) know what you’re going to eat ahead of time
This sort of goes along with my first tip. If you decide to go out to eat, try to look up menus ahead of time so you are familiar with the menu and can pick out a healthier option. Example, we went to Cracker Barrel for my grandmas birthday dinner. Since I was not familiar with the menu, I looked it up ahead if time and picked out a nice balanced meal:
I chose a country plate for my meal which meant I was able to essentially pick my protein, two sides, and a carb (biscuit or cornbread). So I chose the trout for the omega 3s and 2 vegetable sides and ate only half of a biscuit as I knew I would most likely have some birthday cake later that night. Had I not reviewed the menu ahead of time, I probably would have picked, well, something not so healthy. If you don’t have the luxury of reviewing the menu ahead of time, then try to pick lean proteins like fish, chicken, or pork and try to bypass anything that has been fried. Instead if choosing fries, try to choose fruits or vegetables for your sides or whole grain sides like brown rice if available. Another example here: my mom at I stopped for lunch while driving to my relatives house. We decided Einstein bros. was the best option (compared to sbarros, Starbucks, Cinnabon, and carvels). I decided on a whole grain sandwich with egg whites and a turkey sausage patty and some kind of spicy sauce on top. It was surprisingly good and around 350 calories which was not all that alarming for what it was. Plus, the fiber from the bread and the protein from the egg whites and turkey sausage made it quite filling.
Another little tip, try not to eat your entire meal. Most restaurants bump up the portion sizes so people feel like they are getting a deal. That’s all fine and dandy as long as you don’t devour it all in in sitting. Most portion sizes in restaurants are enough to span across at least one more meal. Ask for a box ahead of time and box up part of your meal so it’s out of sight, out of mind. Or share with a friend. Also, try to skip appetizers, desserts, and the bread basket. Appetizers tend to be just as many calories and just as much fat (if not more) as the meal. And the breadbasket is usually just empty calories. Either ask for them to remove the breadbasket or limit yourself to just 1 slice/breadstick/biscuit.
Since I wasn’t in a kitchen I could do my typical cooking/baking in, I had to improvise when it came to my meals/snacks. My mom and I ended up stopping at the grocery store so I picked up a few items I knew I would want to have on hand (plus they were a rally good deal that I couldn’t pass up). I made sure to pick up items that didn’t require a lot of Prep work and could easily be incorporated into my meals and snacks. I picked up flax seed which I can easily add to multiple meals to help bump up the fiber and omega 3 content and I also picked up some whole grain pasta, raisins and walnuts (to make homemade cinnamon roll oatmeal for breakfast/midnight snack cravings), and a bolthouse smoothie:
I’m used to eating more fruits when I’m at home and my fruit intake has been not so great these past few days so I picked up a fruit smoothie to help bump up my fruit intake. I don’t buy bolthouse often as they tend to be pricey but it was a quick and easy way for me to get some fruit into my diet while being away from home. I just made sure to pick up items I knew i would be able eat and if not, then I knew I could easily take them back home with me.
5) allow yourself a cheat meal…within reason
I allowed myself to have 1 slice of pizza and a slice of chocolate cake. We were celebrating after all so I let myself enjoy a cheat meal. I enjoyed every bite of that pizza and that cake. The nice thing about the cake was that it was very rich so a small piece was more than enough to satisfy my craving. I just made sure to keep my diet as clean as possible the rest of the day. I did not use this time as an excuse to eaT the whole pizza or 5 slices Of cake. Make sure to watch portion sizes with that cheat meal.
when it comes to holiday treats, ask yourself “if it weren’t for the novelty factor, would I eat this.”
We had pumpkin pie the first night we came into town and I’m really not a pumpkin pie fan. So I asked myself “will I eat the pie because I want it or just because it’s that time of the year for it?” If I’m going to have dessert, i want to fully enjoy it. I’m not Going to have dessert because of the novelty factor or just for,the sake of having dessert. So I passed on the pumpkin pie. Skipping the pie made the chocolate birthday cake the next night that much better.
Do you have any tips or tricks for not falling off the wagon when you travel?