By Alyssa Adler
Going on a vacation and worrying about how to maintain healthy eating habits? This is a perfect guide to teach cancer patients how to splurge the right way while on holiday.
Vacation is normally the time when people relax, unwind and have fun. Often that means less cooking and more eating out, which can make it harder to maintain healthy eating patterns. Nevertheless, there are ways to combat the large portion sizes, high salt and high fat content of restaurant foods.
The American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR) found in a survey that one third of American’s daily calories come from foods prepared away from the home. A few tips for dining out in a healthy way include:
1. Choose Wisely: When eating out it is important to try and find the healthier options on the menu. Look for dishes that contain a lot of vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, beans and fruit. For instance, choose chicken instead of beef, pork or lamb, and ask for extra veggies or brown rice.
2. Substitute Those Sides: Instead of getting a starchy vegetable such as potatoes or corn with an entrée, try substituting double vegetables or a non-starchy vegetable instead. The AICR recommends 5 servings a day of fruit and non-starchy vegetables, so load up on those when eating out. Do not be afraid to ask the server to substitute vegetables or whole grains!
3. Not Too Saucy: An easy way to add extra calories when eating out is with sauces and dressings. When ordering a salad or a main dish, ask for the dressing and sauce on the side. That way, you are in complete control on how much is added to the food. Sometimes even a simple lemon or lime squeeze on fish, chicken or a salad can bring great flavor without adding calories.
4. Sharing is Caring: Sharing an entrée is a great way to reduce calorie consumption when eating out. Another way to keep portion sizes down is ordering an appetizer as an entrée. Try eating slowly so you give your stomach time to feel full. Especially with cancer patients, it is important to eat slow and take small bites in order to ease digestion.
5. Fried is Not Your Friend: Fried foods add saturated fats and excess calories to the diet. Try ordering entrees that are baked, broiled or grilled. Substitute a baked potato instead of French fries, or have chicken or shrimp grilled instead of fried and put them on top of a salad to add some extra veggies.
Another way to stay healthy on vacation is by limiting the dessert splurge. Try eating fruit to replace sweets. If anything, share a dessert or have a small portion of dessert one night and then have fruit the next night.
Vacations are a time for sightseeing and being outside. Try and walk as much as possible to try and offset any extra calories you may have consumed. Even swimming is a great way to get the body moving and doing some aerobic exercise. If staying in a hotel, check out the pool and fitness facilities to get some extra movement in. The AICR recommends at least 30 minutes of exercise daily for cancer patients.
Staying hydrated in general is important, but on vacation there is always a tendency to drink more sugary and alcoholic beverages. Focus on limiting drinks to water and non-sugary beverages during the day. Treat yourself to an alcoholic beverage at dinner if desired, but keep intake limited to one drink for females and two drinks a day for males (AICR).
Most importantly, enjoy your holiday! Keep these tips in mind, but there is also nothing wrong with moderating. One treat per day is a safe goal, but try and balance the splurges with the healthy options. After all, who wouldn’t want some gelato in Italy or a Nutella crepe in France? Even incorporating a few of these tips will make a difference, so that going on vacation will still be pleasurable and fun, but with a healthy twist!
Alyssa Adler was CFYL’s 2016 summer web intern after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition Sciences with a concentration in Dietetics. Alyssa has since gone on to earn her Masters degree, and is now a Clinical Nutritionist at Mt. Sinai’s St. Luke’s hospital here in New York City. She also has a food blog called Red Delicious and Nutritious which focuses on healthy eating and living and how decadent foods can be made wholesome and delicious. A woman after our own heart!