Ahhhh....I will say, I just had a fantastic week in Florida! I was fortunate to vacation with my mom/stepdad, brother, sis-in-law, and the BF in Orlando and then head further south to Marco Island for a friend's wedding! We had absolutely perfect weather all week (mid 80s, sunny, with low humiditiy...!!!) and it was great to just relax and enjoy the sun.
Of course we had good food and to keep our eating costs a little lower we made sure to stock up on groceries to prepare our own dinners at night (we had a great condo with a well-equipped kitchen....two actually!). The family filled up on lean chicken, pork, salads, vegetables (roasted asparagus, squash!) and fish. On our last night with the entire family I was able to create some delicious chicken & fish tacos inspired by Food & Wine. I rubbed salmon filets with chipotle pepper and topped them with cabbage, fresh avocado salsa, lime juice and a bit of light sour cream and we also marinated chicken breast in garlic lime marinade, cooked that and pulled them apart for another flavorful taco filling!
Whenever I go on vacation I "try" to eat as healthy as possible ;) But really, on this trip I think I managed to do fairly well. When I'm traveling I like to try and sample all the local favorites as much as possible and being in Florida we had great access to a lot of seafood. I chose seared ahi tuna, grilled shrimp, mahi mahi, and grouper whenever we went out for dinner and tried to eat a fruit, a salad and/or vegetables with all of my meals.
Here are just a few ideas that I have to help you out on vacation:
- Produce!!!!: My personal number 1 rule when I'm going out is at least TRY to eat a fruit and/or vegetable with every meal or as a snack if you can. Order a salad with your lunch and dinner or choose a side of a seasonal veggie if it's available. So even if you are indulging in that fried chicken, or a large plate of fettucini alfredo you are filling up part of your stomach with a low calorie, nutrient dense food...and that makes me feel a little bit better about my overall nutrition :) Stop at a grocery store or local market and pick up some fruit to have as a snack. Apples, oranges, bananas, and pears are all fruits that are easy to carry along with you and store in a hotel or condo and can be easily washed and/or peeled for an easy snack no matter where you are. Consider a fresh fruit salad with your morning meal in place of fried potatoes.
- Portion control!!!!: I'm a firm believe in having a treat now and then...especially on vacation! But try to keep your portions in check. Yes, go ahead and have that southern cuisine, ice cream, burger, Chicago Dog, Philly Steak, cheesecake, pizza, etc. but how about sharing a portion? I've learned many times when ordering a meal in a restaurant that my eyes were bigger than my stomach and that I could have easily shared my meal with my boyfriend, girlfriend, or family member. Not only does sharing cut down on the amount of food you'll eat but it will also save your wallet a little damage. And if you're still hungry you can always go for another entree, appetizer or dessert!
- Try the appetizer portion: Sometimes when I dine out I'll check out the appetizer section and order one as my main meal (and sometimes they are just as large as an entree!) along with a dinner salad or side veggie. I'm getting a slightly smaller portion as well as (usually) saving a little money or I can get more variety (ordering an app with another side dish and maybe even dessert for the price of just an entree). Case in point: when we dined out for our first lunch in sunny Florida, I got the appetizer portion of ahi tuna...it came with a side of mixed greens with balsamic dressing and I was pleasantly satisfied for only about $10!
- Bank it: I love Bethenny Frankel and one of her mottos I think is just great. Think of your diet like a bank account. If you know you're going out for a big dinner ("spending a lot") try to "save" a little more at breakfast and lunch. Fill up with whole grain oatmeal, egg whites, fruit and salad during the day so you can splurge a little at dinner. Or if you are thinking that your morning meal is going to be your big treat then try to add more veggies and lean protein to your other meal choices later in the day. On vacation we bought donuts to keep in the condo and I just knew I would cave...so I allowed myself to eat them, but knowing that I would try to cut back on sweets later in the day.
- Change it: People have heard it over and over I'm sure....get your sauces and dressings on the side and using limited amounts, get meats grilled or roasted without added fat if possible versus frying, ask for whole grain bread/rice/pasta/etc, ask to add vegetables if you can....it doesn't hurt to ask! Quite a few restaurants are offering healthier options on their menus that still taste great!
- Try to limit your alcohol intake: I know, I know!! It's vacation...but did you know that there is approximately 100 calories in 1.5oz of hard liquor? About 120 calories in a 5oz glass of wine? 110 calories in an average light beer? 150 calories in a regular beer? Now think about how many drinks you might have on a night out with the guys/girls or just hanging out with the family?? And that is not including anything that you might be mixing with it (think soda, juice, daiquiris, margaritas, pina coladas, etc.)...this can cause you to take in hundreds of calories in just one evening!
- Interchange your drinks with water or another low calorie beverage (water is your best option...stay hydrated!)
- Dilute your drinks with diet soda pop, seltzer/club soda, diet tonic water, use juice sparingly (try a splash of that juice and filling the rest of the drink with water or soda water)
- Healthy snacks: Load up on those fruits and veggies mentioned above, low salt pretzels, baked potato chips, low sugar/high fiber granola bars (LOVE FiberOne bars!), whole grain bread with peanut butter, nuts, dry whole grain cereal, bottled water, etc. for when hunger strikes and you're not quite ready for that next meal. That way you (and the kids!) won't be ravishing once you're ready to sit down to lunch or dinner and won't overeat.
- Make sure to stay hydrated with low calorie drinks (stated above)...sometimes you really may confuse hunger with thirst so down a cup of water when a hunger pang strikes before going for the junk.
These are just a few of the tips I have for healthy eating on vacation! A tip for physical activity on vacation is always bring good shoes!!! If you have a good pair of walking/running shoes with you I think you're more likely to be active! Walk as much as possible...even if it just means around the parking lot or the property of the hotel you're staying at. Take advantage of the hotel gym (call ahead or check the website to see if one's available) and hit it up for a quick morning workout (even 20-30 minutes is something!!) before you head off for fun activities. If you are sight-seeing...get out of the car and walk everywhere you can! Swim! Hike! Bike!
Most of all...have fun!!