Summer is here. Warm weather, long nights and some extra time to get away. Vacation season is the time of year you’ve been looking forward to. Just when you get a chance to break away from your hectic lifestyle, you may find yourself also losing track of your normal routine. This could mean that you might also lose track of healthy habits. Dining out is a given when on vacation, and restaurants seem to make it easy to overindulge.
That doesn’t mean traveling has to lead to unhealthy eating. The key is making smart choices and small changes to keep yourself on track. Traveling gives you the opportunity to explore territories outside of your element. Why not take advantage of the new and exciting native dishes? Whether it be in the Mediterranean, Mexico, France or even a beach house on the coast, there are always new options to enjoy. Chefs love dishing out their most distinguished plates, that is, if you’re feeling risky enough to try different flavors.
Feel free to ask your waiter for the best selection on the menu. However, the best selection may not always be the healthiest. Asking your waiter for their personal recommendation may give you better insight into what to order, while tweaking it to make it more nutritious.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
The distinctive simplicity of the Mediterranean lifestyle is what draws so many people to this region in the summer. The cuisine of the Mediterranean emphasizes a plant based diet accompanied by a protein source, typically domesticated livestock such as cow, pig, goat yet also it includes seafood. It doesn’t seem much different from what you find in America.
However, it is how these foods are prepared that is the fundamental factor to the diverse Mediterranean diet. What sets Mediterranean food apart from traditional American food is the way it’s cooked. Olive oil is the primary fat used for cooking. You’re not going to find the heavy, deep fried, buttery selection you do here. This small change not only decreases calories, it also cuts the saturated fat content in half. Olive oil provides monounsaturated fatty acids which contribute to numerous long term health benefits. Better yet, grilled chicken retains more protein than fried chicken, making it more nutrient dense.
For a quick way to pinpoint the healthier options, search for words on the menu such as “steamed”, “broiled”, “poached” or “stir fried.” These terms ensure a gentle cooking method that will offer the most nutrients while making your taste buds happy. Make sure to use these terms as a guide to ensure what you’re ordering is still a nutritious choice.
Mexican made easy
The beaches in Mexico are beautiful and exotic, no wonder it is such a popular vacation spot for so many Americans. Vacationing on the Mexican beaches is a perfect opportunity to try fresh, local seafood for lunch or dinner. Seafood provides an array of nutrients, notably omega-3 fatty acids which are known for reducing inflammation as well as decreasing the risk of heart disease.
An added benefit of ordering local catch may also mean supporting the local community and using sustainable resources. One thing to be wary of when dining in Mexico is the heavy side dishes. It is easy to overlook the caloric content that a side can add to a meal, and it quickly adds up.
If a restaurant offers a side dish with your meal, opt for the side salad or grilled vegetables in lieu of greasier options like nachos or refried beans. While you may think you’re taking the healthier route by ordering a salad, it is important to be aware of heavy condiments. A salad loaded up with the wrong dressing packs more calories, saturated fat and sodium than other seemingly unhealthier options. Ask your waiter for low fat dressings or order the dressing “on the side” so you can be the judge of how much you’re putting on.
It is undoubtable that the French have turned their culinary skills into an art. Just walking down Paris streets you will find a bakery on every corner. In an environment like this it is nearly impossible to avoid fattening foods. My best advice if you are traveling to France is to take every opportunity to choose fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and veggies are high nutrient, high fiber foods that will not only improve your satiety, they also boost your energy so you can take on all kinds of activities. Order a fruit bowl at restaurants for dessert to add a variety of colour and a touch of local flavour. You never know when you may come across some fruit that you’ve never tried before.
Of course, treat yourself to a pastry every now and then, but remember that the idea of a healthy eating plan is all about wholesome foods.
From the Atlantic to the Pacific
Even if you’re not fleeing very far from your home ground, there are still a few things to keep in mind when dining out. Restaurants often serve enormous portion sizes. Luckily, there are a few techniques you could try to beat the system. If a restaurant is lenient, you can ask to order half sized portions. If you’re uncomfortable with that, try taking half of the entree home for leftovers.
Or if you’re feeling generous, share an entree with a friend and you won’t be disappointed. The goal is not to deprive yourself. Instead, enjoy yourself by eating what you want while also setting limits. This can almost guarantee you will not be left with a sense of guilt or that uneasy, overstuffed feeling.
These few suggestions will make your vacation fulfilling and enjoyable. Stressing about what you eat and your weight isn’t going to bring you happiness. The most important thing you can do is relax. Just remember to ask the locals, add variety, and make moderation your mantra. That way you won’t find yourself paying in pounds, and I don’t meant the currency.