Holiday or Anytime Traveling – Brace Yourself!

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Holiday or anytime traveling, whether by car or plane, does not mean you have to relinquish control of your eating. A little planning and forethought will allow you to take control of your eating environment. Jeff, an attorney friend, once told me, “Traveling is when I blow my diet,” and yet this isn’t necessarily so.

BY CAR

Imagine you’re driving to Orlando, a four-hour drive, and you leave at 12 noon to arrive around 4 or 5 p.m. Normally, in your hurried rush to “get out of Dodge,” you jump into the car, making sure you at least have enough clothes for your trip. You’re driving south, it’s now 2 p.m. and hunger sets in. Whamo, the frenzy need for food overtakes reason while the 1-75 greasy spoon emporium is in sight. You enter, the smells overwhelm, so you order the wrong food and too much. Now you’re back in the car feeling stuffed and uncomfortable. Back up what should you have done to avoid this situation?

Before you leave town, have a reasonable meal based on starch (so sustain your blood sugar). Then pack a cooler of diet sodas and low-calorie snacks. But make a deal with yourself not to snack until you are halfway to your destination; as opposed to some of us who break open the snacks when you first hit the high-way. Some good tasting snacks are: Hains Mini Flavored Rice Cakes (Honey Nut is my favorite, sweet and crunchy) and Wege Honey wheat Pretzels.

Additionally, some fast food restaurants offer better lower calorie choices than others. Don’t just pull into the first restaurant on the road. Think about what they offer before you commit. Ask yourself, “Do they offer baked potatoes, grilled chicken, salads, or just fried whatever?”

Remember, when driving longer distances, walking prior to a long drive will help prevent fluid retention in your lower extremities (ankles, legs).

Even packing a picnic lunch to have on the way at meal time is a less expensive and more controlled alternative to stopping on the way.

BY PLANE

Most of us would agree airplane food “leaves a lot to be desired.” I mean there is nothing like eating a meal 30,000 feet above the Grand Canyon which is prepared in Miami, and was on board the airplane in Atlanta before you ever boarded for you flight to Denver.

A suggestion for a better-tasting, lower-fat airplane meal would be to request a lacto (dairy), vegetarian meal. For this, you will need a 24-hour advance notice and at no extra charge. You are assured of a better quality meal. Try it, but it you’ve forgotten to order prior to the flight, you can’t
order out, sorry.

Another scenario is you are flying within the state, it is around 12 noon and for lunch normally you are offered peanuts and a drink of your choice. An option is to stop by the local sandwich shop on your way to the airport (call ahead so it’s ready when you arrive) and bring your own lunch on board. No problem. Total control, thank you.

I can recall racing through the Atlanta airport, hungry, hurrying past ice cream shops, fruit and nut stores and then the familiar odor of fresh popcorn hit me. Aha! My low calorie travel alternative. The only problem with fresh popcorn on a plane is people look at you with their eyes saying, “OK, where’s mine?”

Too often when you have time to site and eat in an airport you need to bring your banker or first born as collateral. Yet, many snack shops now carry yogurt, cereal and limited fruit. Enough for a creative, satisfying, quick, reasonably priced, moderate calorie meal.

BY TRAIN

Hopefully by the next holiday season we can give you suggestions on how to eat correctly while traveling by Amtrack. Do not expect Orient Express dining for a while.

BY BALLOON

Eat and drink when you touch down – not during. The thrill negates food.

BY BOAT

If you are talking about a cruise to the Bahamas or south, you are in for a major marathon feast. I have had clients who have come to me prior to their cruise to lose some pounds because they expect to restore them during the cruise. Some couples even have a prize for the couple who gains the most weight during the cruise. Can you imagine? If you are not in the “wanting to gain” category then walk around the ship fifty times prior to each gastronomic indulgence.

– Freddy Kaye, Ph. D. is a clinical nutritionist in private practice and the faculty nutritionist at Tallahassee Memorial Regional Medical Center teaching resident physicians diet therapy.

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