Diet guidelines for people on the move
Health & Fitness
Whether you’re a professional, an entrepreneur or a homemaker, travel finds a place in our scheme of things at some point of time or the other. It may assume the form of an official trip or just a fun vacation.
In this day and age when a big chunk of our urban population is quite conscious of the benefits of good health and fitness, they get anxious about messing up the healthy diet regime while embarking on the leisure/work-related trip.
The dilemma- ‘To eat or not to eat’. And if one has to eat, what to eat so that the trip doesn’t end up in a diet disaster, backpedaling all the effort towards a healthy diet.
While you cannot be irrational enough to expect a perfectly healthy diet while on the move (since you may not have control over what’s on the menu), you can definitely salvage it from a major collapse by making smart choices. Given below are a few diet pointers you could use to rescue you from falling prey to a massive diet misadventure:
- Explore your restaurant options: Before you barge into just about any eating joint, explore your eating options. Look for restaurants that have a section of low calorie/healthy options or are at least willing to modify a dish on demand.
- Pack healthy foods on your trip: Try packing some non-perishable healthy foods such as fruits, low-sugar whole-grain breakfast cereals, homemade granola, homemade trail mix, whole-wheat multigrain bread with spreads like low fat peanut butter/hummus/mint chutney, skimmed milk tetra packs, soymilk packs (without sugar), roasted nuts, etc. This could prevent you from ‘dining in’ for all the 3 meals which could pack in humongous amount of calories in a single day.
- Avoid Buffets: Buffets can murder your healthy diet regime in one go itself. The unending spread with a variety of appetizers, breads, main dishes and desserts can spoil you silly for choices. There is a very high likelihood of your succumbing to the temptation of sampling most dishes. This can overstuff you messing up miserably with your daily calorie quota. Go for a-la-carte option instead.
- Ask chef questions: Before ordering, do not hesitate to ask the chef how the dish is prepared. Whether it is fried, grilled or baked? How much oil is being used? Which are the sauces being added? Based on his inputs, ask the chef to modify the cooking method to make the dish healthier or ask him for other healthier options on the menu.
- Downsize your portions: Restaurants often serve supersized portions and it is really easy to upset the calorie count in the excitement of eating a delectable meal. Restaurant meals are often loaded with saturated fat calories and sodium. They’re also low in fiber. Therefore, order smaller portions, split the dish with your company or carry part of the meal back to your room.
- Avoid second helpings: Your brain registers feelings of satiety after about 20 minutes, so you may be at a risk of overeating if you’re eating too quickly and don’t wait for the signals from your brain. So, avoid second helping altogether.
- Say ‘no’ to sweetened beverages with every meal: Beverages might add fun and flavour to your meals, but do not forget the number of calories they can pack in your day that can set you back considerably on your healthy diet mission. Sweetened and aerated beverages are loaded with empty calories that can do you no good. If you just can’t do without one, there are a few healthier options to choose from, such as: Coconut water, buttermilk, nimbu pani (with a pinch of black salt & dash of honey), green Tea/herbal tea, freshly brewed ice tea with a dash of honey, black coffee, etc.
- Always read the descriptions of dishes: Avoid dishes labeled deep fried, pan fried, batter-fried and go for steamed, boiled, roasted, grilled, baked options.
- Start with soups and/or salads before a main meal: Salads will almost always be available at every meal wherever you may go. Fill yourself up on fresh and green salad and clear soups. This will fill you up and save you from ordering a big meal.
- Say no to extras: Refuse extras such as butter, ghee, cheese, mayonnaise, ketchup, french fries, pickles, other high calorie sauces & cheesy dips. Lower calorie options are mint sauce, mustard sauce, hung curd dressing, etc. Also, say ‘no’ to coffee flavours such as hazelnut, Irish cream, etc. as they are basically flavoured sugar syrups.
- Ask for healthy swaps on the side: If a dish is being served with sides such as french fries, potato wedges, cole slaw and the likes, ask for healthier swaps such as veggie salad or bean salad. If ordering bread based dishes like subs and sandwiches, ask for the whole-wheat variety. Ask for red marinara sauce instead of white sauce for pasta.
- Ignore the free table munchies: Many restaurants offer a free basket of assorted breads and crackers with dips till your order is being processed. You may be really tempted to munch on them, but beware! These small bites can upset your health cart by packing in big calories even before the main meal arrives. So, promptly ask your server to take them away before temptation gets the better of you.
- Go for the clear soups: All the soups are not made equal. You may be feeling elated at ordering a Corn Chowder Chicken soup thinking you’ve gone low-cal, but the truth is far from it. Thick and creamy soups don’t qualify as healthy low calorie food. Select a clear soup like Chicken Clear soup, Gazpacho soup, Cilantro Lime soup for a guilt free conscience.
- Go easy on salad dressings: Just like soups, every salad preparation does not qualify as healthy and low-cal. It all depends upon the salad dressings. Plain fresh green salad is the healthiest, while chicken caesar salad, Chipotle salad, salad in French and Italian dressing, etc. are loaded with fat calories.
So, the secret to a healthy and guilt–free pleasure/work trip is NOT denying yourself the pleasure of eating BUT choosing wisely and eating in moderation. For even happier payoff, add exercise to your vacations and you are truly in the pink!
Fitness Expert, Nutritionist and Author