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Aim for healthy eating while traveling

Published: Wednesday, July 16, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT

Several clients have recently asked me for suggestions on how to eat healthy while traveling. Whether it is a day trip to the lake or a 2-week vacation out of state, it is important to plan ahead for meals and snacks.

Planning for any type of travel or vacation can be quite the time-consuming process. In many cases, food might seem like one more chore to think about. But if you are committed to eating well, it is important to keep nutrient-rich foods in your eating plan, whether you're at home or vacationing.

Fortunately, it only takes a few minutes of planning and packing to get some simple-but-healthy travel foods ready.

For 1-day excursions, or if you are driving to your destination, definitely consider packing a cooler with healthy snacks and drinks.

Include food items from all the food groups. Make sure you have plenty of ice or cold packs to keep the food fresh and safe to eat. No one wants to be sick on vacation.

Some simple snack ideas to pack include: fresh fruit and vegetables, string cheese, nuts, yogurt, lean deli meat, graham crackers, hummus, cottage cheese, trail mix, low-fat popcorn, whole grain bread, tortillas and mini-bagels.

For a snack, try to consume a protein with a carbohydrate item. This will curb hunger and leave you feeling content until your next meal. Examples of this are: fruit and peanut butter, veggies and cottage cheese, and nuts with low-fat popcorn.

Simple lunch ideas are tortilla roll ups with lean meat, vegetables, and hummus or guacamole spread, or adding a foil tuna pouch to a pre-made lettuce salad for extra protein.

If your vacation involves air travel, pack a few portable snacks in your purse or carry-on that do not require refrigeration. Examples include nuts, high-protein snack bars and peanut butter crackers. Stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water while waiting for your flight or while on the airplane.

Try to choose accommodations that have a small kitchen with stove and microwave, or at least a microwave and small refrigerator that you can use to make breakfast or a light lunch. If possible, only eat out in a restaurant once a day. Do as much meal preparation on your own that you can. This will not only save money, but will allow you to have more control over the food you are eating.

Last, but definitely the most important packing item is fluids. Every day, we need half of our body weight in ounces – most of which should be water. Always carry water (and plenty of it) when traveling. Limit or avoid sugary beverages, as they will add extra calories and can leave you feeling sluggish and tired. Pack some sliced fresh lemons, limes and cucumbers to toss into your water for added flavor.

While on the topic of drinks, I am including a recipe for a tasty, refreshing beverage from the HungryGirl.com website. It’s a bit of fruit and fun in a glass – perfect for vacationing.

Pineapple-Berry Fizz

¼ cup raspberries

2½ oz. pineapple juice

1½ oz. rum

5 oz. club soda

Place raspberries in a tall glass, and muddle (a.k.a. mash) them with a muddler or wooden spoon. Add pineapple juice and rum, and mix thoroughly. Stir in club soda, and serve over ice. Makes 1 serving. 153 calories, .5 g fat, 32 mg sodium, 13.5 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 10.5 g sugar, .5 g protein.

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