By Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD, CSOWM, FAND
Summer is a time to unwind, kick back, and take a pause from our daily activities. It is also an opportunity to visit unfamiliar places near and far. When we vacation, we want to not only take in new sights but enjoy new foods as well. Who doesn’t love trying local delicacies and taking a pause from our everyday diet? Going on vacation doesn’t mean you have to forego good nutrition. You can travel, eat healthily, explore novel areas and still indulge in occasional treats by following these simple suggestions.
Summertime conjures up images of fruity drinks topped with little paper umbrellas. While many of these concoctions are tasty, they can also be loaded calories from alcohol, sugary syrups and juices. Avoid the temptation to overdo these sweet drinks by limiting their number, and staying hydrated with water, plain tea or mineral water. During the hot days of summer, hydration is critical to replenish water expelled by sweating and helps prevent overheating.
For great tasting water and historical sites, consider visiting Reykjavik, Iceland. In addition to being home to many Viking artifacts, 95 percent of the city’s water comes from natural springs.
When you spend the day walking around the city or at an amusement park, you’re likely to encounter plenty of tempting snacks and street foods. But many snack foods are loaded with calories, so try to limit yourself to just a bite or two and share with your friends and family. You’ll be less tempted if you’re not too hungry, so before you head out for the day, have a protein-packed breakfast and carry some healthy snacks with you – such as protein bars, nuts or fruit.
Since local snacks are a great way to discover local culture, perhaps a trip to the Caribbean will interest you. Many cities have street vendors selling fresh local fruit and vegetables you can’t find back home.
Summer travel often means sitting by a lake, pool or ocean. While you should relax and spend time reading, gazing at the scenery and chilling, vacation does not mean you have to forego your regular exercise. Bring your workout sneakers or swimsuit so you can take advantage of the hotel gym or pool. Some resorts offer exercise group classes – from yoga to water aerobics — as a fun way to get your body moving. Track your daily steps and walk to the local sites if you can. Some local gyms allow you to join for a week or two, and many community centers offer workout sessions.
If you’re looking to work up a sweat while taking in the sites, consider visiting San Francisco, California. You can burn some serious calories walking up and down the hills of downtown.
Go for the Greens
Rather than digging into bread and butter or fried appetizers, begin each meal with something green. Salads and vegetable sides are a great way to fill up on healthy food before diving into other options. Try to make 50% of your meal veggies, which allows you to sample local delicacies while adhering to a “better-for-you” diet.
Kermit The Frog said it best, “it’s not easy being green.” However, if you want to add more greens to your diet, try visiting Orlando, Florida, where a recent study of 100 cities found it to have the most salad shops per capita.
While the fantasy of travel has us imagining the comfiest bed in the world in a gorgeous hotel room, it might also mean camping on a leaky air mattress or sleeping in a room with paper-thin walls or too many family members. Research has shown a correlation between lack of sleep and over-eating – when we get overly tired, we sometimes use food (and not always healthy food) in an attempt to boost energy levels. Travel, especially to different time zones, disrupts our standard sleep patterns. As much as possible, try to keep to your usual bedtime and try to wake up at your usual time, too. Use an eye mask to darken your environment and ear plugs to reduce noise. And when you head to breakfast in the morning bleary-eyed, skip the sugary, refined carbs in the form of waffles and breakfast pastries. Instead, start hydrating with water, plain coffee or tea, and seek out healthy proteins such as eggs or yogurt.
If you’re seeking a break from the hustle and bustle of your hometown, perhaps a visit to Zurich, Switzerland might help. The city has been identified as the least noise polluted in the world, based on research from the World Health Organization on noise pollution across 50 locations.
Summer travel is a time to explore new places with family and friends. Getting away from rigid schedules doesn’t mean that your healthy diet has to take a vacation, too. Good nutrition is about balance and moderation, so go ahead and sample local dishes – and then work off those extra calories with some exercise. Enjoy all that summer offers and take a vacation without abandoning your commitment to a healthy diet.
Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD, CSOWM, FAND is with Herbalife Nutrition.