Eat Well While On Vacation

Posted: June 9, 2012

A vacation is a great time to unwind, but it can present a challenge to eat healthy...

We often indulge in treats more than usual and it may be difficult to make healthy choices while eating out. Ohio State University Extension offers the following tips and ideas for eating nutritiously while on vacation.

     * Take an ice chest and pack it with resealable plastic bags full of healthy snacks: carrots, celery sticks, pepper strips, broccoli and cauliflower florets, snow peas, hummus, apples, oranges, grapes, single-serving containers of 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice, 2 percent cheese, and low- or nonfat yogurt. Be sure to pack some plastic utensils for foods you can’t eat with your fingers. Also have hand sanitizer or wet wipes on hand to use before eating.

     * Pack items that don’t need to be kept cool but are healthy, such as single-serving containers of tuna and canned fruit, whole-grain crackers, small portions of dried fruit and nuts, and bottled water. You can build a great lunch with these items, enjoying it at a rest stop picnic table on your trip. 

     * When eating at restaurants, try to order first so your choice won’t be influenced by everyone else at the table. And, ask if anyone wants to split an entree with you -- that’s a great way to keep portions to a reasonable size. Remember that foods served fried, au gratin, crispy, scalloped, pan-fried, sautéed, buttered, creamed or stuffed are high in fat and calories. Instead, select steamed, broiled, baked, grilled, poached or roasted foods. Avoid croissants, biscuits, potpies, quiches, and pastries. Select hard rolls, bread sticks (if not brushed with butter), French bread, or whole-wheat buns.

     Consider ordering milk as a beverage if you’re not getting much calcium, or stick to water, unsweetened tea or diet soft drinks. Look at the salads offered, but be careful: High-fat dressing, cheese, croutons and other toppings can surprise you with how much fat and calories they contain. When restaurants offer a “healthy” menu, choose from it at least half the time.

     * If you stay at a hotel that offers breakfast, choose eggs if they’re available. Or opt for yogurt, fresh fruit, juice or low-sugar, high-fiber cereal. 

     Of course, you don’t want to deprive yourself of special treats while on vacation. That’s half the fun! The key is to enjoy them in moderation. Take smaller portions of the indulgences and be sure you consume more of the healthy foods.
Karen Thomas is a family and consumer sciences educator for Penn State Cooperative Extension of Lackawanna County.