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!!

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