Spring Break Mistake?..."DietBytes by Sandy"

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

While most of us have already taken our springtime holiday, others are restlessly awaiting their pre-summer getaway. For high schoolers and college kids, spring break is synonymous with binge-drinking and flirty rendezvous. For us boring working-folk, it means a hiatus from our jobs and daily responsibilities, and some well-deserved "downtime." Usually, in addition to taking a break from our hectic daily lives, we tend to desert our usual eating/diet plan and replace it with breakfast buffets, fast food lunches, and heavy dinners topped with heavier desserts, because after all...we are on vacation!
Here are some vital tips for eating and being healthier on vacation...and some ways to get back on track post-trip:

1.) (Try to) avoid airport fare: I'm always watching people make terrible food choices at airports. It's like they're nervous that they may never eat again! For flights that are 2-3 hours long, there is no risk of starving to death. Eat a meal at home before you go to the airport and bring a small snack just in case. For longer flights, look for sandwiches, wraps and fresh fruit to fill you up. And don't forget to pack some nuts, low-fat granola bars, or whole wheat crackers in case you have a long delay or sudden hunger attack.

2.) Beware of buffets: If you must dine a la "all-you-can eat," fill your plate up only once. Yes, you can pile it high, but chain yourself to your seat afterwards. Fill half your plate with veggies and the other half with one-fourth lean protein and one-fourth whole grains.

3.) Make your trade-offs: We all have some room for "discretionary calories," especially on vacation. The Food Guide Pyramid actually allows 100-300 discretionary calories (based on your activity level). So, that means you can have an extra drink or two at dinner. But, you should make a choice whether you want a margarita or fried ice cream. And furthermore, if you're gonna treat yourself, why not make it something you wouldn't usually eat at home? Most restaurants serve bread with dinner or french fries with meals, but you may not always have the chance to try an exotic dessert or an inventive cocktail.

4.) Add activity: The only way to "undo" or correct any less-than-desirable food choices on vacation is to...MOVE!  Most hotels have gyms, or you can walk, run, or bike to explore your surroundings. When you get home, check the scale and then get back on track with your eating plan. Exercising at least a few times on vacation, can help to avoid weight gain. We all know how easy it is to gain a pound or 2 when we aren't paying attention, which makes returning to reality even more dreadful!

Healthy eating,
Sandy N. Sfikas, RD, LDN