5 tricks for eating healthy -- but not depriving yourself -- on vacation
Possibly the best part of vacation is experiencing the most delicious meals your destination has to offer—wontons in Hong Kong, creamy gouda in Amsterdam, and a scoop (or two) of stracciatella gelato in Portofino. But a solid week of gluttony can leave even the most ambitious sightseer feeling sluggish.
Is it possible to indulge in your epicurean cravings yet manage to stay light and energized? New York City Nutritionist Tanya Zuckerbrot M.S. R.D. says yes. Here, her top tips for keeping eating habits in balance on holiday.
Vacation begins at the airport.
Kick-start your trip by packing a healthy, filling meal or snack for the plane ride (airplane food tends to be neither good for you nor good). Zuckerbrot's favorite mix includes fresh produce, protein, and fiber, such as hummus and veggies, low-fat cheese, and a handful of almonds.
If, however, you're the type who tends to end up rushing to the airport at the last minute, it's also possible to find healthy options before boarding. Zuckerbrot suggests grabbing Greek yogurt and piece of fruit, or a protein-packed open-faced sandwich made with turkey and whole wheat bread.
Worst-case scenario? "Restaurants always have salad," she says, "Order some plain grilled chicken and dressing on the side." Perhaps the most important in-flight health tip, though, is to "drink tons of water," she says, since the air at 30,000 feet is dehydrating. Buy the biggest bottle you can find to fight jet lag and grogginess on landing.
Avoid the mini-bar.
Skip the sugar- and salt-laden hotel snacks, and wander over to a local farmers' market to pick out your own; it's also a fun way to get to know your new surroundings. With your room stocked with fresh, in-season fruit and flavorful treats, you'll feel satiated and also lighter between outings.
Don't skip breakfast.
"Begin every day with a major breakfast," says Zuckerbrot—and don't hold back on fruit. Most hotels offer great brunches, so why not take advantage of the spread? Skip the sweet pastries and bacon, however, and "opt for a filling egg-white omelet, whole-wheat toast, and antioxidant-rich berries," she suggests. Best of all, the most important meal of the day will fuel your body for a jam-packed day of seeing the sights.
Tailor your meals to your destination.
Before your trip, do a little research and seek out the best dishes in each country you plan to visit. Heading to Paris? Allow yourself the pleasure of a fresh-baked baguette. Skip the bread in Tokyo (but definitely enjoy the sushi), order pasta in Capri (Italian portions are smaller anyway), and get a beignet to share in New Orleans. "Traveling is an experience," Zuckerbrot says, "and you don't want to miss out." But order your splurge at lunch, she notes, "especially if you have an active afternoon ahead." At dinner, switch to a light meal of lean protein and veggies that won't fill you up too much before bed (bonus: You'll sleep better).
You're on vacation—go ahead and eat dessert. Just remember to savor it slowly and that portion size counts. And don't forget about the hidden calories in alcohol, Zuckerbrot points out: "Stay away from beverages that are made with juice and stick to simple cocktails," like a simple spirit on the rocks or a glass of wine.
This story originally appeared on Vogue.
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