People train vigorously through the winter and spring preparing for the summer season. June 21 will be the first official day of summer and with it begins a period of travel and leisure for many families and individuals. It feels great when your perseverance and tenacity in training translates into a lean and healthy body. Unfortunately time spent traveling in cars, campers, and planes or the time spent in hotels can compromise all of your hard work and sacrifices you made preparing for summer. With a few considerations for summertime travel, you can still have a great time and stay in top shape.
Many of us will travel by car to our favorite destinations. Time spent on the road can reek havoc on your nutrition if you do not prepare in advance. Here are a few tips to consider when traveling on the road.
- Follow a basic behavior modification technique and never eat while moving. The amount of food eaten unconsciously while focusing on riding or driving can add up dramatically. Easy access to food and the distraction of the road make automatic, even unconscious, excess snacking occur.
- Never eat from the original package or bag. Snack food placed on plates takes up more space and will cut the risk of unconsciously eating the entire bag.
- Choose snacks that will fulfill a portion of your nutritional requirements rather than an empty-calorie snack. A good choice would be unbuttered popcorn. At twenty-three calories per cup, popcorn is a filing high fiber snack, which takes a long time to eat, for those who can not avoid snacking in the car.
- Choose foods that are high in nutrient density and foods that are low in energy density. Vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals and will keep you energized through your day. An 8-ounce broccoli stalk is approximately 40 calories. The energy it takes to metabolize the broccoli will be burned up in the digestion and absorption process.
- Vary your fruit snacks. Wrap bananas in foil and freeze them for the trip. Seedless grapes and berries that are frozen make a great snack as well.
- Sandwiches can be frozen overnight: they will be ready to eat by noon the next day. Choose coarse whole grain bread with fillings that freeze well. Chicken breast and tuna fish are good choices.
If you have to stop at a restaurant along the way, consider the following:
- Avoid ordering mixed foods, processed foods and foods that might be prepared in lard, oil, butter or margarine.
- Order plain meats, baked potatoes or rice, and steamed vegetables.
- Salad bars are offered in most restaurants, and are an excellent source of fiber and vitamins A and C. Many items at salad bars are high in sodium, fat and calories and should be eaten in moderation. The choices that are lower in calories and fat are as follows:
- Dark leafy greens and lettuce such as spinach and romaine are higher in nutrients than iceberg lettuce.
- All fresh vegetables: bean sprouts, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery, cucumbers, green beans, mushrooms, onions, peas, peppers, radishes, red cabbage and tomatoes, due to the fact that they are high in fiber and vitamins and low in calories.
- Turkey, egg whites, chicken or lean beef for protein
Salad dressing considerations:
- To conserve calories, salads should not be dressed at the salad bar but spooned into a small side dish and taken to the table. Choose oil and vinegar over other salad dressings like Thousand Islands, creamy blue cheese or Italian. Tossing the salad thoroughly ensures that only a small amount is needed.
Those traveling by plane should consider the following:
- You do not have to settle for airline food. If you call in advance 24 hours before your flight you can request to have a specialized meal ready for you. Most airlines provide a variety of special meals to accommodate vegetarians, diabetics, or individuals on low-sodium or low-calorie diets.
- Salty foods such as pretzels, peanuts, potato chips and saltine crackers should be avoided. Fatty foods coat the lining of the stomach and delay stomach emptying.
- Over seas traveling can take as long as ten hours or more with little opportunity to engage in activity. With this in mind consider that a 12-ounce beer would require a thirty minute walk to burn off the empty calories consumed or a one and a half ounce 80 proof gin or vodka requires twenty minutes of rowing to burn off those empty calories.
- Designate a portion of the meal, such as a glass of juice, a salad, or a piece of fruit, to be eaten later as a snack.
Finally, considerations to be made once you arrive:
- When dining out, select restaurants that offer a large variety and are more likely to include nutritious low-calorie choices.
- Keep in mind that a restaurant or a hotel is not a private kitchen and that the chef is not your personal employee. When making your request, the following considerations should be taken into account:
- Learn about cooking basics. Béchamel, béarnaise, and hollandaise sauces as well as Thousand Islands and creamy Italian dressings are made of high-cholesterol ingredients. Sautéed always means cooked in butter. All fried food, no matter what fat or oil in which it is fried, is high in calories.
- Make request clear, specific and easy to follow. Do not interrogate the waiter or waitress. Your request should be precise and if you do not want a particular ingredient state what is acceptable. Many times an establishment will substitute a “no butter” request with margarine if not specifically noted.
- Do not overeat
- Do not eat too fast
- Do not talk when you are eating
- Do not skip lunch and make dinner a huge meal, as many travelers do. Keep in mind that many restaurants offer the same food for lunch as for dinner but at lower prices.
- Finally, do not forget to exercise. Walking to your destinations instead of taking a taxi or bus. Using the stairs instead of the elevators. Taking advantage of the hotel pool or fitness facility can help burn calories, and aid in assuring a restful nights sleep and give you an opportunity to release some of the pressures of the day that usually lead to excessive eating or drinking.
With all of the fun and sun the summer time brings, following these tips can help assure that when fall rolls around you will still be in the best shape of your life. Have a fit and fabulous summer season!
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He is an ISSA Master of Fitness Sciences, an ISSA Master of Sports Sciences and the Head Master Trainer for the ISSA with more than 15 Fitness and Nutrition related certifications including: Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Specialist in Performance Nutrition, Specialist in Fitness for Older Adults, Specialist in Martial Arts Conditioning, Youth Fitness, Water Fitness, Endurance Fitness, Golf Fitness Specialist, Specialist in Adaptive Fitness, Lifestyle and Weight Management Specialist and certificates in Pre-Natal and Post Partum Exercise, Exercise and Fibromyalgia, Unilateral Training, Plyometrics to enhance SQS, Exercise and Arthritis, Exercise and Diabetes, Exercise and MS, Foam Roller Training and more.
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