Travel Smart


Traveling Lite
When you map our your itinerary, map out your meals, too.
Then dine to your heart's content without adding excess weight.
By Susan Finkelstein, MHSc.

So you're finally on your way for that well deserved vacation. You've shed the everyday stresses and pressures, not to mention that constant rushing to get things done. You're ready to relax and enjoy the pleasures of your destination. For the next while, your top priorities are sightseeing, leisure activities, evening entertainment and dining. So does this mean you can leave your healthy eating habits at home? Well, you can, if you don't mind returning with extra baggage.

Sure, you want to experience the flavors, the tastes, textures and aromas of local foods. It's fine to imbibe exotic restaurant atmospheres, but you'll be traveling smart - and traveling lite - if you take note of the quantities and types of foods you eat. With a little advance planning, you'll be able to dine to your heart's content without adding excess weight.

Map Out An Eating Itinerary
Along with an activity itinerary, you should map out an eating itinerary. For example, if you know you're going out for a hearty dinner, make lunch light in calories and fat. For example: a small meat sandwich or a chicken salad with vegetables and light dressing would adequately satiate you till evening, yet still leave room for scrumptious delicacies at dinner.

Your eating plan should always include at least 3 meals. Never skip meals as a way to save calories for the next meal. This inevitably results in over-consumption at the next meal. As well, skipped meals often cause a lack of energy during the day.

All-inclusive resorts that are known for their lavish, overflowing buffets can be difficult to resist. At the start of each day, plan a program of how much you are going to eat and stick to it. Balance higher calorie foods such as rich desserts, dressings and sauces with lower calorie fruits and vegetables. Eat dessert only at one meal and limit that dessert to one small-sized serving. Fill your plate once and do not go up for seconds. Alternate mineral water, club soda or diet soda for wine or a cocktail to limit calories.

Healthy Eating in Restaurants
When you dine out, even in the finest restaurants, balance higher calorie, higher fat meals with lighter meals. As you scan the menu, look for tasty foods with minimal fat and calories from the items noted below.

Breads & Crackers
When you sit down to dine, think twice before reaching for that tempting assortment of breads and crackers or the florets of butter that grace your table. Indulging here will curb your appetite for the main meal and boost unwanted calories. Try filling up on water to keep your mouth busy and your hunger under control until the real food arrives.

Tossed salad, shrimp cocktail and roasted squid are nutritious appetizers. Ask for light vinaigrette on the side of the salad, so you can control the portion. Limit fried foods such as calamari and potato skins. Also, steer clear of Caesar and Greek salads, which are often tossed in high fat dressings.

Main Courses
Look for foods with tomato based sauces or wine sauces, instead of white cream sauces. Meats (beef, pork and chicken) as well as fish can be nutritious as long as the extra fat and skin is not eaten. Foods with lots of cheese such as pizza, calzone and lasagna can be quite heavy on the stomach. Ask the waiter to go "light" on the cheese and request extra tomato sauce and vegetables instead.

A fresh, colorful fruit plate is nutritious and pleasing to the palate. Sherbets and low-fat yogurt can be quenching and satisfying. If you crave something crunchy, try lower fat cookies such as biscotti or tea biscuits.

Portion Control is Key
Most importantly, remember this: even if you stick to lower fat and lower calorie foods - if you eat large portions, the extra food will go right to your waist. Before you order, ask about the size of the meals. If the portions sound big, share the meal with a friend. You can always order more later. And don't feel guilty about leaving extra food on your plate. Take it home in a doggy bag or ask the waiter to take it away. When you face more food than you need, remember this: it's better saved for another day or tossed away, than as extra baggage on your belly.

Have a scrumptious holiday!

Susan Finkelstein, MHSc, is a Registered Dietitian who writes a nutrition column for community newspapers in Ontario.



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