Last week, I shared my easy, tried-and-true guidelines for exercising while you travel, so you can maintain your fitness while you explore the world. But I believe, as do many health experts, that the way we eat has a much greater impact on our health, vitality and weight. We can skip formal exercise for a week or two, and just get in some basic walking, and that is fine. But for me, if I overeat or eat the wrong foods for even a day, I pay for it! Not only in weight gain, but frankly, I feel lethargic and lousy. That’s no way to enjoy a trip.
Here are my go-to rules for eating out, whether on vacation or at home. These are universal rules; they’ll work for you anytime, anywhere. They even served me very well when I was in India, and I didn’t even always know what I was eating!
• As soon as you sit down, drink a glass of water. It will begin to fill your stomach and allow you to make your selections without being quite as hungry.
• Order a hot beverage, or a low- or no-calorie beverage, with your meal. This helps fill you up with few or no additional calories. I almost always order tea with my meals, and I always eat less when I do.
• Wine and other alcoholic beverages count as starch. If you order one, substitute the starch (bread, potato, rice, corn or peas) in your meal with low-glycemic vegetables (like broccoli, bell peppers, zucchini, cauliflower, or green beans).
• Share a meal, or order an appetizer as your main course. If I am not sharing a meal, I ask for a “to go” box before the meal is even served. I put half the food in there as soon as it arrives. Out of sight, out of mind!
• Order the simplest foods on the menu: baked, broiled, grilled, poached, roasted, stir-fried, or steamed entrées with the fewest sauces and other extras. If there are no simple dishes on the menu, order all sauces, gravies, creams and oils on the side. That way, you can add just a little for flavor without loading up on extra calories.
• Use these portion guidelines:
• Half of your fist – that’s your starch or carb portion
• The palm of your hand – that’s your lean protein portion
• Stick out your thumb – that’s the portion for fat, including cheese (Make sure to cut off all visible fat, as there can be a lot of hidden fats in restaurant foods. Remove the skin from chicken, and cut away visible fat from a steak.)
There is nothing better than coming back from a trip, having fully enjoyed the food and the culture, but without gaining a pound. These guidelines always work for me, and they will work for you, too. Bon voyage!