by LAWRENCE SCHLITT, M.D.; Scripps Clinic, Del Mar

Eight Tips to Healthy Eating on Vacation

adv_scripps-lawrenceVacations are an opportunity to refresh, relax, and recharge – and often involve indulging in the local cuisine. While expanding your palate is a part of traveling, you don’t want to add extra pounds. These eight tips can help you eat healthy while seeing the sights, so you return with memories, not extra weight.

1. Bring your own snacks.
Pack travel-friendly nibbles for the plane or car ride, such as pretzels, cheese sticks, packets of nut butter, or cut-up veggies with hummus.

2. Avoid the mini-bar.
That little refrigerator in your hotel is filled with snacks and drinks loaded with sugar and salt. Instead of raiding the mini-bar, pick up snacks at the local farmer’s market or grocery store, and stock your room with easy finger foods, such as fresh fruits, nuts, seeds, and pre-cut vegetables, as well as plenty of water.

3. Eat breakfast.
While vacation schedules vary from your local routine, don’t skip the first meal of the day. If you are staying at a resort, take advantage of the breakfast or brunch buffet and fill up on fruit, salads, and whole grains, such as whole-wheat toast or oatmeal. If going out for breakfast, choose lean protein, such as eggs, and fruit.

4. Splurge once a day.
It’s a vacation, so enjoy special treats. If you are in Paris, you might want a fresh-baked croissant from the bakery around the corner. If you are on a road trip with the kids, you might want to stop at the ice cream stand for a homemade indulgence. Monitor your portions, eat slowly, and savor every bite.

5. Make your own meals.
If you can cook where you are staying, take advantage and try your hand at cooking, especially with local produce and items you might not be able to get at home. Now is the time to try fern shoot salad or Connecticut shad.

6. Try local restaurants.
Ask for directions to favorite spots that serve local products. Explore the regional cuisine and enjoy food prepared traditionally, which usually has fewer processed ingredients. Don’t be shy about ordering a meal to split if you think the portion sizes will be too much for you to eat at one sitting. Alternatively, if you have a refrigerator in your room you can ask for a doggy bag.

7. Walk everywhere.
Strolling through museums, a new city or on the beach is a chance to explore while burning up calories. If a destination is within a mile, walk. Make sure you bring comfortable, supportive shoes and a first-aid kit for any blisters.

8. Stay hydrated.
Dehydration is common when traveling, especially when flying. Bring an empty water bottle to the airport and fill it once you are past the security checkpoint. Stock up on water bottles once you are at your destination and bring a bottle wherever you go.

Most importantly, have fun. Vacations are a time to enjoy yourself with family and friends and explore both new and familiar places.

Lawrence Schlitt, M.D., is a family medicine physician at Scripps Clinic, Del Mar. Dr. Schlitt provides compassionate care, emphasizing the whole person and a happy, healthy lifestyle. Outside of the office, he enjoys the San Diego sunshine with activities such as running, hiking, and gardening.

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