I know very well that traveling can be a real challenge when trying to stay on a healthy eating plan! Most airports are filled with unhealthy fare around every corner tempting you left and right. If you are on the plane or stuck in an airport for hours on end, without planning ahead, you could be off to a very unhealthy start to your vacation. After all, now is the time to look your best in that swimming suit!
So what’s the secret to a healthy vacation? Preparedness.
Whether you are at home or on the road, to be successful with your fitness goals, you have to plan ahead for any potential obstacles you may encounter so you can be sure to avoid them and stay on the right path.
For example, as much as possible when traveling, eat for the day like you normally would at home. For instance, if you have a 10am flight:
Eat Breakfast before you get there.
Grab a healthy snack around 9:30am before boarding the plane.
Eat your lunch three hours later (sandwich or salad you bought or packed prior)
Eat some almonds and an apple three hours later (brought from home or even purchased at the airport)
If it is a longer flight, you may find yourself needing dinner during a layover or on the plane. Always choose the healthiest option you either called ahead to order or packed at home before leaving.
If it is a shorter flight, since you have eaten your small meals throughout the day, you aren’t going to be famished and tempted to grab something quick, despite its lack of nutritious value. Instead, you will feel able to wait long enough to either prepare or order something healthy for dinner, as you are able.
So how can you accomplish this successfully? As you head out of town for Spring Break this year, consider these 8 fitness tips to help you stay on track:
1. Call the airline ahead of time and ask for a healthy meal option on your flight or simply pack your own. A lot of airlines have taken the meal away, though some still offer food to eat and you can specifically request in advance to have their healthiest option ready for you. Now you won’t be tempted to make a poor choice you’ll likely regret later on. However, if your airline doesn’t offer any healthy food options that are low in sodium, fat and sugars, then simply pack your own meal and bring it with you in your carry-on. This way, you are sure to be prepared with a healthy option you can trust.
2. Remember to reach for healthy snacks when on the airplane or waiting in the airport. For example, if you’ve got a growl in your stomach and don’t have any other options, go for the pretzels, not the peanuts. Peanuts tend to be high in sodium and packed with calories. Ideally, you planned ahead and packed a few snacks of your own like fruits, raw veggies, a handful (~15) of unsalted almonds or low sugar protein bars, all of which are easy to keep on-hand when traveling.
[Related: What is healthy eating?]
3. Avoid fried meat and instead look for grilled options, like chicken. Fried foods are very high in fat and calories – avoid them at all costs. And if you’re choosing a sandwich or salad, be sure to avoid the mayonnaise or salad dressing, which also tend to be high in fats and calories. Lastly, don’t forget to monitor your intake of breads and croutons too. Choose wheat bread for sandwiches and substitute raw vegetables for croutons.
4. If you have a layover and know you are likely to want to eat something, go online beforehand and look at the airport’s directory to see what restaurants are available. Most airports will offer a lot of different restaurant options so before you go, get online and take a look at the airport’s directly to see exactly what choice you have so you can plan to find something healthy ahead of time. If you forget to look before leaving, take an extra few minutes once you get there to walk around the food court to check out your options – it’s definitely worth the time. Maybe you can find a healthy salad from one place and a snack from another. Simply put, there’s no excuse anymore to “b-line” to a place like McDonald’s to get something quick and unhealthy. There are definitely healthy options available – simply look for them.
5. Once you get to your destination, have the mindset that vacation doesn’t mean you get to splurge at every meal. You can definitely allow yourself a dessert here and there but not every time you dine out. Make healthy food choices at least 80% of the time, leaving room for a few opportunities to enjoy some desserts or treats. If you do decide to have a dessert, share it with your significant other or friend instead of eating it all by yourself. When it comes to maintaining a healthy body, moderation is always key.
6. Avoid skipping snacks or meals to justify over-eating at dinner. This is one of the worst things you can do! Doing so will send your body into starvation mode all day and you will end up storing everything you eat at that dinner for reserves. This is how you’ll get fat. Instead of skipping snacks or meals, simply consume fewer calories so you can eat a little more at dinner. Otherwise, you’ll come to the dinner table too hungry and you’ll end up overeating, only to regret it later on.
7. Be sure to continually drink water throughout your trip. At Premier Fitness Camp, we recommend 120 ounces of water a day, or eight to 10 glasses. This will help flush the excess water your body retains from traveling at high altitudes. Drinking plenty of water also helps you feel satisfied by curbing unnecessary hunger and cravings for food.
[Related: Eight Steps to Healthy Eating]
8. Plan to get some type of exercise into your vacation daily. Make it a family affair by scheduling morning hikes or long bike rides. Look for hotels that offer a gym and make it part of your daily routine to exercise before breakfast to jump-start your metabolism and ensure you get it done before the day gets underway. This way, that occasional splurge won’t make a big difference since you’ve already created a calorie deficit. It will also help you maintain your existing fitness habits, helping you eliminate the risk of losing momentum and desire once you return home.
Eating healthy and maintaining your active lifestyle on the road does not have to be difficult; you simply have to plan ahead to make good decisions, and this comes by being prepared. Doing so will help you avoid gaining unnecessary weight when you travel. This year, make your Spring Break Vacation the best yet by not letting anything get in the way of your fitness success!
(Don’t forget to share this post with your friends and family – see below)
Jessica Janc, Director of Nutrition
Jessica Janc has been a part of the Fitness Industry for 20 years. She attended the University of Utah where she studied Exercise Sports Science with an emphasis on Nutrition. She has been an ACE certified Aerobic Instructor and Personal trainer for nineteen years. She studied under the Stott Pilates Method, is Bosu Certified, Madd Dogg Spin certified and teaches many other fitness classes at Purefitness Sports Center in Carlsbad. Jessica is Ace Certified in Lifestyle and Weight Management and is a Sports Nutritionist certified through the National Association of Sports Nutrition (NASN).