The holiday season is fast approaching (seriously, it’ll be here before you know it) and for many people that means travel.
We asked Veronica Tomor, author of The L.E.A.N. Guide for the Business Traveler, to share her top tips for maintaining a healthy weight while traveling this holiday season. As a busy woman always on the go and a seasoned traveler, Tomor knows firsthand how to stay slim on the road.
While it’s totally fine to indulge from time to time, regular travelers need to say no to excessive buffet eating (especially prevalent at all-inclusive resorts and Grandma’s table), and to ordering restaurant meals laden with fat and calories. Choose healthy salads, grilled lean proteins and steamed vegetables for regular meals this holiday and keep your portions reasonable.
Carry low-calorie snacks in your travel bags
Getting from point A to point B over the holidays can be stressful, and many travelers make poor food choices because they don’t know when they will have time to eat their next meal (especially if they have kids in tow). Carrying snacks and filling all your bags with fruit, protein bars or trail mix can help ensure you will never go hungry. The more ravenous you are, the more likely you are to head straight for the drive-through.
Watch your alcohol consumption
Calories from alcohol can add up quickly. Drinking regularly at holiday dinners, cocktail receptions and the airport will contribute to and accelerate weight gain over a period of time. To avoid overindulging, try the “one for one” rule. “Drink one glass of sparkling water or club soda with a lime between each alcoholic beverage to help curb your alcohol consumption,” Tomor says.
Drink plenty of water
Thirst can actually be mistaken for hunger, Tomor explains. By drinking at least eight glasses of water per day, or more if you are flying, you may help reduce the amount of food that you eat and avoid overeating. Not to mention that it’s always important to stay hydrated, no matter the season. Keep a reusable bottle with you no matter where you are so you can easily sip on the go.
Always find time to exercise
Pack your workout clothes and shoes before you pack anything else so you have no excuse not to exercise, Tomor says. She also advises planning ahead and finding a gym or running trails near your hotel if it is not equipped with workout facilities. You can also upload workout videos to your laptop or carry compact exercise bands with you in your suitcase to ensure you work out while away. “Think ‘when,’ not ‘if’ when it comes to exercise,” she says.
Don’t go to restaurants hungry
Being away from home also means eating out — a lot. Restaurant eating is not only taxing on your wallet, but your waistline, too. To avoid any diet sabotage, Tomor suggest tending to your stomach before heading out to eat by drinking water to curb some of your feelings of hunger. Better yet, sip on water with a twist of lemon or lime en route to the restaurant.
Say yes to salad
When you are on vacation (even if it’s just to another city to visit relatives) it can be easy to eat more than usual, especially at restaurants. Avoid that by filling up on greens, Tomor advises. “As soon as you sit down to eat, order a side salad along with your beverage,” she says. “That way you will avoid eating chips and bread, which are full of calories.”
Customize your meals at restaurants
Apparently, Victoria Beckham has been known to order “steamed broccoli” at restaurants – as her meal. We’re not suggesting you go that far, but you can trim calories easily when you eat out, Tomor says. Avoid eating fried foods or meals laden with heavy sauces and butters. Instead, she suggests ordering meals with sauces or dressings on the side. You can also ask the chef to prepare your meal with no butter or less butter. If the restaurant isn’t busy, your request will likely be accommodated.
Skip the calorie-laden condiments
One tablespoon of mayonnaise has 100 calories, and chances are that whatever is on your club sandwich is more than a tablespoon. We know condiments help boost flavor and improve a meal, but it’s all about making smarter choices, Tomor says. “If you need condiments, choose lower-calorie options, such as mustard, which only has three calories per teaspoon.”
Stay energized between meals
Having healthy snacks on hand means you and your family will stay energized between meals and never get too hungry. “Pack snacks in all of your bags, so you are not reaching for doughnuts and fried foods when you’re hungry,” Tomor says. Some portable snack options include protein bars, raw nuts, fresh or dried fruit, bagels, pretzels, low-sugar granola bars, low-fat energy bars and mini carrots.