Thursday, August 28, 2008

Eating healthfully while on vacation -Part 2

We got back from 2 days at Telegraph Cove, and as many of you may have experienced, plans changed. Everything started out just fine. We woke up early and I prepared a breakfast that we could eat in the car - whole wheat bread, light cream cheese and locally produced smoked salmon. It was a 4 hour car ride, so during our break, we had some locally grown fruit (peaches, nectarines) as a snack.

We arrived on time to Telegraph Cove and headed towards the boat for our whale watching tour. We brought with us PB&J sandwiches plus fruit for lunch to eat on the boat. The tour was awesome. We saw humpbacks, orcas (killer whales), dal porpoises (so speedy - they raced our boat), sea lions (fat and happy) and eagles. But it was very rainy and cold. The boat had some snacks so I enjoyed a hot cup of coffee and half a cookie that I shared with my son. And that warmed me up.

Once the tour was over, I went to the Grizzly Bear tour operator to get some info on the following day tour. Unfortunately, we found out that the prior days they saw just 2 and 3 bears respectively and the weather forecast was for rain again. Now this is a 8 hour tour and I have limited sitting tolerance. So we decided to cancel the tour but still stay overnight in Telegraph Cove and do some sight-seeing on the drive home the next day.

That evening, we had dinner at the only restaurant in town. I had a yummy fish stir fry with locally caught salmon, halibut and prawns. We split a dessert 3 ways. I don't remember what it was, so it was obviously not very memorable.

We stayed overnight in Telegraph Cove overlooking the marina. It was an interesting "cabin" but cold. In the morning, we awoke and wanted to eat a breakfast out. This would be our first breakfast at a restaurant in over one week. So we drove 100+ km to Sayward and had a "decadent" breakfast. The menu was made up of primarily eggs, bacon, and potatoes. Then at the bottom of the menu, I found the "Jogger's Breakfast" which was yogurt, fruit and granola. That sounded fine to me. I haven't had enough calcium during this trip, so I knew I should select the yogurt option. What I received was a cup of strawberry yogurt, a tablespoon of granola and sliced nectarines, melon and oranges on the side. In addition to this, was home-made white bread, toasted with butter. So I ate my yogurt, fruit and granola. I usually don't eat white bread, but I make an exception for almost anything home made. It was delicious. During the day we explored Strathcona Provincial Park and did some moderate hiking. Our huge breakfast kept us feeling satiated until dinner.

Ok, so this was all about my trip and meals. What does this mean for you? Well, here are some more pointers that you can take away from my experiences and examples:

1. Bring food so you can prepare meals and snacks.
2. Select locally produced foods when possible.
3. Expect some bumps in the road and work around them. Make the best of the situation. If you find that your only eating options are not what you may consider healthy, then pick the best choice and compensate for it later in the day (or the next day). One "bad" day is not a big deal as long as the majority of the days are filled with whole grains, fruits, vegies, low-fat dairy, and lean proteins.
4. Share foods when eating out. This will give you a reasonable portion and also keep the price of a meal down.
5. Enjoy your vacation! This means sampling local fare including home-made breads, pastries and other delicacies. Today we had teriyaki smoked salmon - what a treat. It tasted nothing like the smoked salmon we get in New York City. This salmon was recently smoked and thickly sliced (about 1/4 inch thick). My 10 year old son could not get enough.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Eating healthfully while on vacation -Part 1

I am writing this while on vacation in British Columbia. What a beautiful place! We started our trip spending a week in the mountains surrounding Whistler and we are ending it by the water on Vancouver Island. Eating well while on vacation is possible, particularly if you plan ahead.

1. First there is the plane trip. Bring your own food and snacks. Often planes do not provide food/snacks and when they do, it is usually not the healthiest choice. If you can carry a freezer bag include plain low-fat or non-fat yogurt, sliced fruit, an ounce of nuts, cut up vegetables, and a dip for vegetables such as hummus. If you cannot carry a freezer pack, bring foods that are non-perishable such as nuts, cut-up vegetables, fruit, and whole grain crackers. Don't forget to purchase a bottle of water before boarding the plane. Air travel is very dehydrating which impacts you internally and externally (meaning dry skin). This is especially a concern if you are traveling from a place of low altitude to high altitude. I keep this in mind when traveling from New York City to Colorado for skiing at over 10,000 feet. I find that when I eat properly (whole foods and proper hydration), I can acclimate to the altitude easier. Which means I can ski higher and faster sooner.

2. When you book your hotel, ask if there is a refrigerator in the room. Hopefully the answer is yes because this will give you an option of storing some more healthy snacks such as non-fat or low fat dairy products (yogurt, milk, cottage cheese, cheese) and lean protein sources. Or request a room with a refrigerator. I was quite fortunate on our trip since all the rooms we stayed in had a kitchen. So we ate every breakfast in our room, had picnic lunches each day and ate a home cooked meal almost every evening.

3. If you do not have the ability to store or cook foods, think ahead about your day and how/where you will be eating. If you are on a businesss trip, your meals may be served at your meetings. Most likely you will get a continental breakfast with offerings such as croissants, muffins, cereals, fruit, yogurt and coffee. Stick with the cereals, yogurt and fruit. Stay away from muffins and any other pastry items. They are loaded with sugar which will give you a quick pick-me-up but will find you napping during the next 1/2 hour of the meeting. You need food that will keep you alert which means consuming foods that digest slowly such as whole grains and whole fruits.

4. Now that you ate a healthy breakfast, you have to think about your next activity. Are you sitting around a table listening to a presentation or are you climbing a glacier? (yes, that is what we did yesterday.)

4a - If you are sitting at a meeting and you did not go the gym in the morning, keep a tall glass of water at your side and sip it slowly. Or savor a cup of coffee or tea. Save a bowl of fruit from breakfast and munch on that before lunch.

4b - If your after breakfast activity is active (examples from my latest trip include bicycling, glacier climbing, spelunking, hiking), bring a healthy snack with you. You may not be able to bring perishable foods, so think about what you can either carry in your pocket or back pack. I have been surviving on peanut butter and all-fruit jelly on whole wheat bread for over 1 week. The best part was purchasing freshly baked whole wheat bread from a farmers market. Go local when possible to support the community and environment. If you bring bars to snack on, watch out for the sugar content. Some sports bars are just a "bad" as candy bars. Fruit and nuts are always are great source of energy. Dried fruit is a wonderful option when you are concerned about persishability.

Part 1 discussed breakfast and pre-lunch snacks. The next section, I'll discuss lunch and snacks/meals that follow. But now I have to think about what I need to prepare for tomorrow. We are taking a 4 hour drive north to Telegraph Cove where we'll go whale watching one day and search for grizzly bears the next day. I am already prepared with my whole wheat bread, peanut butter and all-fruit jelly for 2 days of lunch. I have whole grain cereals plus fruit which I'll take along for breakfast for 2 days. Snacks will be fruit and cut up vegetables. Dinner we'll eat out. I am expecting to have some locally caught fish. The update on our food and my recommendations for lunch, dinner and in between snacks will be coming up as soon as I return from Telegraph Cove, British Columbia. Happy and healthy eating!!