By: Joy Pape
Sure, it’s easier these days to find lower-carb options at restaurants, but let’s face it, traveling can provide an excuse that allows us to lose control. “I’m on a trip,” or “I’m on vacation,” seem to always be the popular refrains. But there is no vacation from diabetes or weight and health management.
You might loosen up a bit, but for some of us, once we relax a little, it’s hard getting back on track.
Stop, Think, Plan and Prepare
Here we go again: I’m going to ask you to stop and think before you act, even before you leave for your trip. It’s the same old story: plan and prepare. Even though you can usually find lower-carb foods, it’s still best to be prepared.
Getting There and Back
Whether traveling by boat, plane, train or automobile, always have something to eat on hand. You never know if you will be detained for some reason, and you can’t always count on having access to lower-carb foods.
Easy-to-carry pre-packaged foods include string cheese, beef or turkey jerky and nuts. You can also measure an ounce of nuts, or count out 10 to 20 nuts depending on size, and carry them with you in individual baggies. Always measure out or count nuts before eating them. Eating nuts straight from the jar or can makes it too easy to over-indulge. You can eat just 10 or 20 nuts—try it! If you eat fruit, a small apple or orange also travels well.
And don’t forget to carry a beverage like bottled water, flavored water or sugar-free drinks.
Once You Reach Your Destination
The challenges are usually different when traveling for pleasure or work. If you’re on vacation, you will most likely have more control of your eating choices. You can choose your own restaurants and meals, and most menus now have lower-carb choices clearly stated. If not, plan your meal around your protein source. For breakfast, instead of choosing pancakes, think of eggs or egg substitutes. Try an omelet with cheese and vegetables, and hold the toast and hash browns. If you can’t imagine eating an egg without toast, choose whole grain over white and one slice not two, or eat only a few bites to enjoy the taste.
For lunch, salads with grilled chicken, fish and other protein sources are great—just don’t go wild with the dressings and crackers. Buffets offer a lot of good choices, but remember, portion size matters. Stick with the salads, grilled or baked fish, chicken and lean beef choices and non-starchy vegetables. Even though these foods are low carb, don’t go overboard thinking you need to eat more to get your money’s worth. For dinner, try grilled seafood, chicken or beef and a dinner salad. Instead of potatoes or rice, ask for double vegetables. If having bread, rolls or crackers on the table is too much of a temptation for you, ask your server to remove them.
And for dessert?
Have some hot tea. If you must order something, get several forks and share it with others.
What About Business Travel?
Business travel is a different story. Often meals are planned for you. In this case, I recommend you ask the coordinator beforehand what’s on the menu. If a continental breakfast is ordered, that is usually heavy on the carbs: bagels, muffins, rolls, toast, cereal, milk fruit and juice.
If these are your only choices, keep some hardboiled eggs or cheese or leftovers in your room refrigerator and enjoy that for breakfast. Or get up a little earlier and stop at a nearby restaurant for a lower-carb breakfast.
If lunch is a sandwich buffet, there are usually lettuce, tomatoes and onions along with the meats and cheeses and breads. Make your own chef salad. Dinner usually presents few problems. Just remember the tips from above.
Traveling doesn’t have to be an excuse to lose control. You can travel, stay healthy and, EnJoy!