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How to avoid weight gain while traveling

How to avoid weight gain while traveling

Traveling can definitely disrupt your usual diet and exercise routine, but you can enjoy your vacation without gaining weight. Here are a few pointers on how to avoid weight gain while traveling. 

When you’re planning a vacation, you probably start by figuring out where you’re going to go, how you’re going to get there, where you’re going to stay, and what you’ll want to do once you get there.  And if you’re like many of my clients, there may be something else you might plan for when you travel – weight gain. However, I’m going to tell you how you can take a vacation and avoid weight gain.

Many people tell me that they just can’t stay on their diets while they’re on vacation – admittedly, it’s a challenge. But when people plan to gain weight when they’re traveling, it sounds to me as if they don’t even want to try to stay on track. Vacations can turn your structured world upside down – that’s one of the reasons we enjoy taking them. But just because you’re traveling doesn’t mean you have to bring back “excess baggage” around your waist, hips and thighs.

Tips to control calories while traveling

No matter where you go, or how you get there, it really helps if you’re well prepared. Aim to stick to your usual routines as much as you can.  Here are some tips to help you avoid weight gain while on vacation.

-If you’re traveling by car, skip the ‘road food,’ and pack healthy meals and snacks instead. Don’t leave the house until you’ve eaten.  If you’re in a rush, take a protein shake with you so you’ll be less tempted to pick up fast food on the way.

-Easy to pack foods such as protein bars, fruit, nuts or soy nuts, string cheese and individual packs of baby carrots are good snacks no matter your method of travel. They’re great for road trips or flights.

-Finding healthy items at the airport is a challenge – fruit, yogurt, salads or sandwiches can be found – but packing your own food will save you calories and cash.

-When flights are delayed, use the time to walk around in the terminal rather than letting the restaurants and watering holes beckon.  At some large airports, you can easily log a mile or more by walking back and forth along the concourses.

-Watch out for liquid calories.  Staying hydrated, especially if you’re flying, is important. It’s recommended that you drink a cup of fluid for every hour you’re in the air, but if you’re chugging sodas or cocktails, you’ll rack up a bundle of calories.  Stick to water, iced tea or lightly sweetened sports beverages instead.

-If a stop at a hotel figures into your plans, you’ll likely be suffering from a dangerous combination of fatigue coupled with tempting foods from the happy hour buffets or room service.  Travel is tiring, but rather than using food as a pick-me-up, take a walk or hit the hotel gym after you get settled.

-Many hotel rooms have refrigerators.  Pick up some fresh fruits, cut vegetables or yogurt for snacks.  And don’t forget some milk or soy milk so you can whip up a protein shake in your room.

-Ask hotel staff about healthy dining options in the area where you’re likely to find the foods you generally eat.

-Watch your calories at hotels that offer complementary breakfast.  It’s tempting to overeat when you’re not paying for food items.  Most free breakfasts load you up with starchy bagels, cereal and waffles and it’s easy to you eat more than you should, especially when you’re not paying for it.  Instead, be on the lookout for fresh fruit, and maybe some protein in the form of hard-boiled eggs or yogurt.

Travel Traps – Watch your calories in the car,  air and hotel

How much exercise do you need to burn off some of most typical ‘road foods’?  The chart below gives the calories and fat in typical foods, and the amount and type of exercise needed to burn off those calories.Keep in mind that while you’re sitting in a car or on an airplane, you’re only burning about 150 calories per hour.

Food Calories      Fat    To burn it off…
Airport – Cinnabon Cinnamon Roll 813 26 gm 2 hours of backpacking
Airport – Grande Café Mocha and Blueberry Scone 860 33 gm 115 minutes of biking
Airport – Yogurt Parfait with fruit and granola 620 13 gm 110 minutes of dancing
Airport – Subway Chicken and Bacon Ranch Wrap 440 27 gm 50 minutes of singles tennis
Airplane – United Airlines Classic Snack Box 616 33 gm 2 hours of aerobics
Airplane – Delta Flight Delights (Pita chips, hummus, apricots, almonds, Clif Bar, Toblerone mini chocolate) 530 22 gm 90 minutes of baseball
Airplane – Gourmet Chocolate Chip Cookie 420 20 gm 120 minutes of Frisbee
Airplane – Ham and Swiss Breakfast Croissant 350 21 gm 2 hours of vacuuming
Airplane – Boston Market Chicken Caesar Salad with Sun Chips and Dressing 640 52 gm 120 minutes of ice skating
Hotel Mini-Bar – Planters Apple Cinnamon Trail Mix 560 26 gm 3 1/2 hours of washing dishes
Hotel Mini-Bar – 4.5 ounce can Macadamia Nuts 913 97 gm 80 minutes jumping rope
Hotel Mini-Bar – Snickers King Size Candy Bar 440 22 gm 100 minutes ping pong
Hotel “Free Breakfast “– Bagel with Cream Cheese, Fruit on the Bottom Yogurt, 3/4 cup Raisin Bran + 2% milk, 2 strips bacon 1020 34 5 hours of bowling
On the Road – Double Burger with Fries 1100 61 2 hours of jogging
On the Road – Stuffed Burrito and Medium Soda 900 30 90 minutes of stair climbing
On the Road – 6” Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich + Chips 670 20 2 hours of mowing the lawn
On the Road – 5-ounce tray Red Vines 560 0 56 minutes of swimming

 

 Written by Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD. Susan is a paid consultant for Herbalife.