Weekly Wellness: Traveling? Vacation? Here's how you can eat

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COLUMBIA - My husband and I just got back from a 7-day cruise through the Caribbean. If you’ve ever gone on a cruise, you know that there is a LOT of food available. At times, it seems like the events are scheduled around the massive amounts of food and drink that are available at all hours of the day and night.

In a situation like a cruise (or buffet), the biggest obstacles (if you’re trying to keep control of your calorie intake) are usually: choices and portions. There’s no magic formula and I certainly don’t want to spend my vacation time focusing on macronutrients and the-what-ingredients-are-in-that-guessing-games. After all, if I’m on vacation, I want to be enjoying myself, right? The plan I follow is how I tend to eat most days (with a few more sweets and cocktails). Here are my tips:

  • Don’t fill up on filler foods. Filler foods are foods that make you feel fuller without really getting a lot of “bang for your buck.” Breads, pastas, crackers, mashed potatoes, pastries/doughnuts – these all fall into this category.
  • Fill your plate with fresh foods first. I will make half of my plate fruits at breakfast, salad at lunch and salad or steamed veggies at dinner. Then the rest of the plate will be left for proteins and starches.
  • Try to avoid cream sauces and cream soups. I know they are delicious but they also (in most cases) stuffed full of calories and fat. If you MUST have fettuccini alfredo, load up on the salad first.
  • Avoid fried foods, if you can. Just like with the cream-based dishes, these are generally loaded with calories and fat.
  • Make your plate colorful! If you look at your lunch plate and everything is beige or tan or brown (indicating LOTS of fried foods), we’ve got a problem. Greens and reds and yellows and oranges – make sure they are represented.
  • Desserts are for tasting, not devouring. I’m not a monster! I would never tell someone that they shouldn’t indulge occasionally. But when it comes to desserts (especially on a buffet), we really need to pay attention to portions. My husband and I will find one or two small desserts and share. It allows us to try different sweets without overdoing it.
  • Water between cocktails. Most of the time, if we overindulge in alcohol, we feel it the next day. Not to mention all the additional calories and sugar we’ve consumed. Try to have a small glass of water for every cocktail you consume. Not only will it help to limit the amount of alcohol you drink (because you’ll be fuller from the water), but it will keep you hydrated (and hopefully help with that impending hangover the next morning).

For your travel days (in the car or at the airport), my tips are:

  • Plan ahead. Prepare some bags of nuts, protein bars, pieces of fruit. You know that the options at airports and convenience stores are limited.
  • Bring water or a water bottle. My husband and I have travel bottles that we fill after we’ve made it through TSA. If you’re in the car, pack that small cooler! Traveling is dehydrating. Keep hydrated.

Have a great vacation!