How to Eat Healthy While on Vacation

It was my birthday recently and all my friends had been telling me that this is a significant one. For some reason, from the time we turn 25, every five years is supposed to be this big important number. Well, I'm not going to tell you which conviction of 5 I reached, but OK, it was a BIG birthday!

I love that I was born in July. My birthday always falls right around our vacation time. My husband is also a Cancer, so the whole month feels like celebration and vacation. And just like everyone else, our celebrations are often centered around food.

Over the holiday weekend, saying happy birthday to America and me, we had a small group of very close friends together for a gourmet dinner. Last night, hubby took me for a quiet celebration alone to one of our favorite Manhattan restaurants. And next week, we leave on vacation to CA where we will celebrate his birthday at the food and wine festival in Santa Barbara.

Well, that's a lot of food, fine wine, and fun! Add to it the other 6 days we'll be eating out and on the road; It could have a scary number on the scale come August 1st! However, long ago I decided that I was not going to ruin vacations or celebrations feeling guilty, worrying about gaining weight or lapsing in my exercise program.

I've come up with some strategies to continue eating healthy while away, still enjoy myself and not feel deprived. I never want to freak out when I see the scale upon return, requiring the rest of the summer to be about taking off excess weight. I hope these tips will help you eat healthy on your next vacation.

Wherever your travels take you, even if it's just to the backyard with family and friends, may you have the best time!

Tips for Eating Healthy While on Vacation.

1. Plan ahead to have healthy foods and snacks for traveling. If you are flying to reach your destination, do not depend on airport and airplane food. Bring your own sandwiches, salads and / or healthy snakes, or choose wisely in the airport. Many airlines still allow a request for special meals when traveling internationally, but usually require at least 48 hours notice. Check your carrier in advance and if available request lo-cal, lo-fat and lo-cholesterol choices.

2. For road trips, pack a cooler with fresh fruits, low-fat cheese sticks, granola bars, whole grain crackers, trail mix and of course, plenty of water. Roadside rest stops are notorious for high fat, high calorie foods and finding nutritious selections can be challenging. But if you have your own foods, you can take advantage of their tables, and in good weather many even have picnic tables.

3. Do not let boredom lead to overeating. Long hours of travel by air or car can lead to boredom snacking. Make sure you have lots of things to entertain yourself; A great book, books on tape if driving, an iPod or MP3 loaded with your favorite music, magazines with crosswords or Sudoku puzzles, or your laptop computer.

4. Before leaving for your trip, call the hotel and request that they empty the mini-bar or supply you with a small, empty refrigerator so you can load it with water and healthy snacks. If they can not accommodate you, refuse the mini-bar key when you check in to avoid temptation.

5. Explore the surroundings and visit local fruit and vegetable markets, if possible on foot or bicycle. This way you get some exercise after sitting for so long during travel, and get to stock your hotel room with healthy choices. Many hotels rent bicycles and can tell you the fun, gourmet groceries and fruit stands that the locals patronize.

6. When eating out, enjoy the experience, but apply the same healthy habits you've adopted at home. Ask for dressings on the side, choose baked, broiled and grilled, load up on fresh veggies asking that they be steamed or very lightly sauteed in olive oil, and stop eating when satisfied rather than stuffed. If your hotel has a microwave, you can even take the left-overs back for lunch the next day.

7. Enjoy the local delicacies guilty free by sampling rather than feasting. Who would not want to enjoy chocolate souffle in Paris, benoits in New Orleans, fondue in Switzerland, or a clam bake by the shore? But making them a constant diet and overindulging every day of your trip will certainly lead to feelings of guilt and the desire for a crash diet upon returning home (which, of course, I never recommend!)

8. Do not drink your calories with exotic poolside cocktails, or indulge in happy hour 7 days in a row. Most people are shocked to find out the calorie count of many alcoholic beverages, some adding up to more than should be taken in an entitlement meal. Stick to wine, light beer, or simple mixes of 4 ounces of alcohol mixed with seltzer, diet soda, or a splash of lite juices.

Eating healthy should be a way of life with occasional indulgences built in. But a week vacation, filled with every meal and snack eat out, a drastic increase in alcohol, bread at every meal, and desserts will surely lead to disaster on the scale when you are back home. Make sure you return from your vacations feeling resting, rejuvenated, healthy and loaded with an excess of great memories rather than pounds!