Wellness Scout

Healthy Eating Travel Series Part 2 – Enjoy, but don’t regret. Tips for healthy eating while traveling.

“So what will we do with the rest of the food in the fridge? Throw it out?” The question my parents asked as we prepared to leave the rented beach condo. Due to the lack of food options in the area and to increase efficiency in finding meals, we had bought some staples (eggs, yogurt, salad items, cheeses, rotisserie chicken etc) to enjoy breakfast on the patio and some dinners or lunches at the condo.  As we packed up, left overs consisted of some cheese, salad greens, salami, rotisserie chicken, English muffins, tortillas, hummus, and fruit. My response. “Heck no!” “I’ll make us some to go items for the return trip”. I re-used the container that we had brought our “Kitchen sick” salad in for our meal on the plane. (“Kitchen Sink” – as it used every last bit of chopped salad ingredients and leftovers). We made wraps for my parents and stored them in the tortilla bag. On the plane, my husband made mini salami cheese sandwiches using the two leftover English muffins. Nice with the complimentary wine the steward gave as sympathy for lap travel with 15 month old for a 3.5 hour flight.

We re-purposed, re-used so on our long travel day we had a homemade breakfast, lunch and thus didn’t feel like we were pushing our health when we ate at JFK before our 9pm flight home.
Why consider healthy eating shortcuts while traveling? Running offensive on your vacation eating plan can help you return to your health regime with less pain and less transition. Enjoy but don’t regret.

How to do it? Think of it as a 3 step process:
  • Start the vacation by eating well as you leave the house. The healthy mindset will linger into at least the first few days. Thus, keeping some of those health intentions high versus saying “What’s the use, its vacation…” and throwing every bit of eating sense out the window.
  • Enjoy but don’t indulge to the point of regret especially when you see those extra pounds, upset stomach and cranky attitude upon your return.
  • Cut the corners – have healthy options on hand. Split a salad every other day or every meal. I’ll elaborate with various scenarios below. 

I’ve tackled a few eating on the road scenarios and this certainly isn’t exhaustive, so please Contact me with your questions.

Air travel: Air travel can be tricky especially if you end up stuck hungry without options. Quick tips below for brown bagging it or choices at the airport. (Stay tuned for my airport eating guide focusing on cutting your losses, energizing meals and staying full without the crash).
  • Bring a Tupperware of all your fridge leftovers. Chopped up cheese or nuts.
  • Focus on what you should have, not what you need to deny yourself. Is the loaded nachos at the brewery house pub worth it? Why not wait until at the resort.
  • Choose the places offering a variety of salad with options to add protein.
  • Even a reasonably sized plain hamburger is better than the loaded fries – and you can omit he bun if necessary.

Stocking the hotel: Most hotels have a small fridge, but if they don’t, skip to “snacks to go”. This is your opportunity to ensure your blood sugar doesn’t crash as well as preventing overeating at dinner for the fear you won’t have food around.  Just keep those portion sizes in check with the in room dining as well.  Think of it like your fridge at home – don’t raid it.
  • Nuts, seeds and more nuts. Don’t worry about the fat – this is the good fat that will help you stay satiated. Waiting to have brunch? Have a handful to stave off hunger pains. Getting ready for dinner and need a snack – have a handful instead of that beer or glass of wine.
  • Fruit – apples, oranges and pears preferably with bananas as the last resort.  Apples and pears are full of fiber without spiking blood sugar like a banana. Bananas however, are ideal for a pre-workout bite at that hotel gym or morning hike.
  • All –natural, few ingredient bars. KIND and 88 Acres are my two easily found and inexpensive favs. Or if you want dessert later, have one of the chocolate based ones to help with post drinking sugar cravings.
  • Plain, full fat yogurts and cheeses. If you want more substantial meals in the room and have the space, focus on these to provide energy and satiation.
  • More ambitious? Can you pack snacks from home – quinoa semolina spinach cakes, zucchini fritters, meatballs? These pack and store well on trips, with easy single serve portions. These are ideal for food desert locations and when you need to really keep your health in check.

Snacks to go: Beyond what is mentioned above for stocking the hotel, these are quick snacks for short or long road travel or when having that urban adventure.
  • Cut up cheese squares or string cheese.
  • Chia oatmeal
  • Fruit, nuts, seeds.
  • Acai berries, cacao nibs – great for a boost of energy.
  • Low sugar, few ingredient bars. KIND, 88 Acres, Healthy Warrior Chia Bars.
  • Carrot sticks, peppers, radishes cut up.
  • Peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter packs
  • Beef Jerky
  • Hard boiled eggs

Dining out:
  • Split appetizers, split entrees and order appetizers as mains (be wary though as appetizers can be much richer and more decadent).
  • Avoid fried.
  • Load up on veggie sides.
  • 90/10 rule. 10% of meal is indulgence, 90% on track. For instance, if you have a glass of wine pass up the dessert or that bread basket. If you have that dessert, split the appetizer or forgo it at all.
  • Review the menu before you arrive and before you are hungry.
  • Think about what your body needs – did you have a salad today? Did you have an intense day of walking and activities so some healthy grains are in order? Do you have an energetic afternoon?Always protein, carb (vegetable or grain preferable), and healthy fat at every meal.
  • Don’t SKIP THE MEAL TO COMPENSATE FOR THE FUN LATER – check out my holiday party preparation blog on why this isn’t the smartest tactic to weight loss. 
So when you return, your diet won’t have been totally derailed and returning to your exercise routine and healthier eating habits won’t seem so begrudgingly impossible.  For more tips on how to re-enter the wellness world post trip with thoughtful preparation, check out my April blog post. Need more tips or a plan to motivate yourself into sustainable goals? Have questions or travel eating challenges? I would love to hear from you! Contact me

Wellness Scout

Do you need a Breakfast Make-over? Recipes and suggestions for revitalizing your breakfast!

Breakfast - I’ve written several posts on this topic because when advising clients on meal make-overs, it’s the meal of choice to start the process. Often breakfast is the easiest meal, the most missed meal, but it’s also the most important one in starting your day with energy. Plus another way to sneak in those vital extra nutrients or even veggies.  Below I provide breakfast alternatives that take into account a range of factors affecting why you may not eat breakfast such as time available, dietary concerns, energy needs, and boredom with options. Now it can’t be entertaining and have a “wow” effect every morning, but an alternative breakfast at least twice a week and one weekend day will not only refresh your taste buds and stomach, but also provide a mental break. Variety decreases boredom with food, which decreases the mindless snacking, hunt for “fun”, processed, sugary food or over indulging elsewhere, while simultaneously increasing nutrient satisfaction with the added variety.

So what’s stopping you from eating breakfast? Time? Bored? Nothing interesting? Don’t like reheated leftovers? No options? Time and no options at work is usually the most common answer. Think of breakfast of the quickest, nutrient packed meal. Savory or sweet this can allow for variety and sustenance. Need to increase vegetable intake throughout the day – throw some spinach into the scrambled egg. Slice some tomatoes and cucumbers with hummus.

Even if breakfast can’t be your biggest meal, it can be the most calorie rich and sustaining one.

Another reason people avoid breakfast is to save calories. Do you say to yourself – “I won’t be able to hold back on the other meals, so I better skip the one I can – breakfast?” We all fall into that habit. Even I have. What happens? Overeating later. Not eating breakfast sets your blood sugar up for a crash and burn reaction. Challenge yourself. Conduct a test. One day eat a bigger, diverse breakfast and listen to your body’s need at lunch and dinner. You may not end up wanting the larger dinner. You may go longer before diving into lunch. Also, your blood sugar will remain level so you aren’t tempted to make the tough choices of a side of fries over barley salad during a blood sugar crash.

So if you want to take the challenge of adding a more nutrient dense, interesting breakfast to your wellness regime then check out some of these ideas for spicing up your breakfast.

Veggie Frittatas – Looking to save time? These are great for those willing to cook on a Sunday and eat “leftovers”. So many options and combinations – asparagus, mushrooms, tomatoes, chives, greens…full fat cheeses, pancetta, diced chicken….you name it.  Slice and either heat on the stove top for immediate consumption or pack and go – 5 minutes or less breakfast prep!

Fried egg over ??? – This is one of my all-time favorites and stand by. Unsure when I started, but it was supported and encouraged by my husband who doesn’t eat the typical American breakfast. He is used to a more savory and vegetable filled start to his day. So I’ll top a fried egg (in coconut oil) over hummus and arugula, leftover roasted root vegetables from the night before, oatmeal with either sweet – cinnamon or savory –pesto, sauces, tomato and cheese. Lentil fritters from dinner, or zucchini/carrot fritters topped with an egg - voila one serving of vegetables is done! Top even lentil soup with it. Put an egg on anything in the morning and it’s officially “breakfast”!

Revitalized scrambled eggs – Love scrambled eggs? Need to add some variety or maybe a few more healthy calories. Adding vegetables to scrambled eggs is the best way to increase your daily intake of vegetable. Anything added to your salad and can be added to scrambled eggs- peppers, spinach, leeks, mushrooms, cheeses, onions, even broccoli and eggplants! Want to be adventurous and need something heartier after an intense workout or before a long day? Try adding some cooked oatmeal or even grass fed ground beef repurposed from last night.

Dinner for breakfast – Just as breakfast for dinner can be fun, try reversing it with dinner for breakfast. Top that black bean chili with a fried egg. Maybe have a cup of that lentil soup warmed up with some crème fraiche. It depends on what you can stomach in the morning, but this option adds variety and nutrients to your breakfast.

Oatmeal with chia seeds – Of course there is the ever filling and hearty oatmeal for breakfast with numerous options such as adding nuts, almond milks, seeds, dried fruit, cheese even and chia seeds. Even top an oatmeal with a fried egg! Oatmeal is a wondrous comfort food perfect for long days or hikes. Need a boost of energy? Try Chia Seed Oatmeal for a natural mental energy boost. Great to make in advance, in batches and for those with little prep time in the morning.

Brunch fun – Some of the following suggestions ways to again add vegetables and variety to your brunch since they require a little more time and may take restraint to not eat in one sitting. Brussel sprouts for breakfast? YES!! Here are two very delicious savory dishes using eggs, vegetables and additional animal protein.  Egg with Bacon Brussel sprout hash, and Brussel Sprout, chicken sausage hash . Fun hosting splurge – try Easy Baked Ham Tortillas topped with guacamole or bring some Mini bacon egg tartsto your next brunch potluck!