The sun is out and so are you! Summer is a beautiful time for travel and family vacations but those plans can often derail your carefully constructed health routines. Diets and healthy eating often go out the window in the face of all-you-can-eat-buffets and the ease of airport fast food. Follow this advice on how to eat healthy on vacations this summer.
1. Plan strategically
When unprepared, we tend to make poor diet choices. We reach for what is easy to fill our immediate hunger, which all too often means the bag of chips on the counter or even the soda from the mini-bar. Taking time to think about the hunger you will inevitably face should become a part of your pre-travel routine just like packing your suitcase.
Research where you are going beforehand and what local food they have nearby. Vacations mean you get to explore new areas and take in new cultures and a part of that comes from trying new food. Go online and pick out potential local restaurants to try out while you are there. Most restaurants have their menu online as well, so you can even pick out healthy options ahead of time and avoid the temptations of unhealthy specials when you arrive.
If you are traveling to a place known for tempting local food (Philly Cheesesteaks, Memphis BBQ, and New York Cheesecakes to name a few) plan to split the signature dish with a traveling partner and then split a second, healthier option. It is important to remember that while eating healthy is always a good choice, you are on vacation so it is a time for small indulgences and to enjoy yourself.
2. Pack your snacks
A major issue people face is long travel times during the summer, and this can lead us to make unhealthy diet decisions when at the airport or on the road. Fast foods are often cheap and easily portable solutions and can not only hinder your healthy eating but make you feel sluggish as well.
When on the road, stopping by grocery stores or packing a small cooler can keep you going longer and give you healthier options. You can customize your snacks according to your personalized diet and your family’s favorite options. For instance, if you are on a low-oxalate diet you could easily pack one of our 10 low-oxalate snacks to go to maintain your kidney health.
Packing snacks can get trickier if you are flying to your destination, as airport security has tightened over the years. Despite this the TSA still allows dry goods on planes so some small snacks are allowed.
3. Don’t eat every meal out
If you stay with friends in a suite, or in a larger place with access to a kitchen, then you should try to use it once a day. At the very least try to stock up on healthy breakfast items so you can start your day strong. Ultimately, cooking allows for more control and saves your money so you can spend it on local attractions and events, which means you’ll create more memories than restaurant receipts.
4. Set a good example
Figuring out how to eat healthy on vacation is difficult enough when you are alone, but if you are traveling in a group then it can be even harder. If this is the case then it is important to set the tone for the group. People tend to follow the lead of whoever begins ordering, so try to go first and be the example. Order water instead of soda and order something in line with your health plan, such as food that is kidney friendly if you are on a low-oxalate diet.
It is also important to note that some restaurant portion sizes are typically larger than a recommended serving. You can often get multiple meals out of one menu item. Ask for a box early on so you can get the food off your plate and packed away for a later snack.
Another strategy, if you’re traveling in a group, is to order a few plates and share with your friends. Try ordering less than you think you need. You can always order that last dish later if you realize there isn’t enough food. This family-style approach is also great for dessert. You are on vacation after all! Splitting the dessert saves you from the guilt of that overstuffed feeling, while still treating yourself.
5. Choose low-oxalate fruits and vegetables to double your fiber after vacations
Going new places and experiencing unfamiliar foods is exciting, but can also cause strife in your gut. Chances are, even with all this advice, you may not eat as healthy on vacation as you would at home and that is fine! However, to get yourself back on track it is a good idea to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables to increase your fiber intake and get back to your regular eating habits.
For those on a low-oxalate diet, focus on kidney-friendly fruits like apples, peaches, bananas or mangos for example. Low-oxalate vegetables such as cauliflower, yellow squash or cabbage can be an advisable choice as well.
Remember the point of a vacation is to relax and have fun, so if you falter in your diet or healthy lifestyle then forgive yourself. Feeling guilty and upset can actually hurt your healthy efforts in the long run, so be flexible and have fun! If you have any low-oxalate food-related travel problems that were not addressed here let us know so we can help brainstorm a solution with you!