Start your New Year’s resolution early and fight holiday weight gain with these 8 tips for healthy eating on the go.
Map out diet and exercise strategies before traveling.
Don’t want to be munching airline peanuts all day? Bring your own snacks. Your hotel lacks an exercise room? Call ahead to find out whether there are pleasant walking/running routes nearby. As long as you look around for smart ways to adapt, you can find a way to adhere to your fitness goals.
Try to eat normally during your trip.
Travelers often joke that on the road "calories don’t count"—if only! If your usual morning meal is a bagel and juice, a solid week of breakfast buffets could get you into trouble. Avoid sabotaging your fitness goals by asking yourself the question: Is this what I’d do at home? Do your best to approximate normal eating routines while still allowing for opportunities to sample local cuisines.
Create an on-the-road meal plan.
Use guidebooks and online resources to find the kinds of restaurants you prefer. Check online menus or ask your hotel to fax you its menus and, if possible, those of restaurants nearby. The Web site GoodFoodNearYou.com has menu nutrition information for 220,000 U.S. restaurants—making it much easier to create healthful meal plans. The site also has a free app so you can continue your research during the trip. If your hotel room has a mini-refrigerator or a larger minibar, ask your hotel about good groceries and delis in the neighborhood so you can stockpile some healthful nibbles.
Eat big at lunch.
Try eating one big meal each day in the middle of the day, followed by a light dinner. You’ll save money, too, as lunch is always cheaper than dinner.
Avoid international fast-food chains.
McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s—this junk food is everywhere, so why would you eat it on vacation? Use your precious time in London, Moscow, or Honolulu to seek out local flavors.
Sign up with WeightWatchers.com.
One of the country’s most acclaimed weight-loss programs has a fantastic Web site with all kinds of tools and support that will help you set goals and stay on track—during your vacation as well as before and after if you like. Although the three-month online membership package saves money, you can sign up for one month—just so you can log in on the road—for a reasonable price (occasionally a free month membership is also available). WeightWatchers now has a free app for iPhones.
Plan ahead for special dietary concerns.
If you have food allergies and are traveling to a non-English-speaking destination, consider having a detailed explanation of your allergy translated so that you can carry it with you to show staff in restaurants. The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network has lots of helpful hints about traveling with food allergies. If you’re a vegetarian, hop online to check restaurant menus or call ahead to be sure that your options aren’t limited. Or pick an all-vegetarian dining spot through a Web site such as Vegdining.com.
Have fun staying fit and trim.
Staying healthy should be fun—otherwise, why bother? If you’re making yourself miserable by trying too hard to stick to the straight and narrow, lighten up a bit. Don’t get too fixated on your routine. You don’t need to dread every restaurant visit: sharing a dessert from time to time can be salubrious. Keep your mind open to the possibilities—that’s why you’re traveling, after all.
Photos: Gourmet food and wine at Freycinet Lodge at the foot of the Hazards courtesy Tourism Tasmania / Garry moore; 5-a-Day at the Mercat de Sant Josep / La Boqueria courtesy of sharontav184, Fodors.com user: "I was amazed by the wide variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, and foods for sale in the marketplace. The colors and smells were amazing, something that cannot be put into words . . . you just have to go explore it and experience it for yourself!"