By Alyssa Adler
Vacation is normally 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. Even when not on vacation, about one-third of American’s daily calories come from foods prepared away from home. Nevertheless, there are ways to combat the large portion sizes, high salt, and high fat content of restaurant food.
Here are a few tips for dining out in a healthy way:
- Choose Wisely: It is important to try and find the healthier options on the menu when dining out. 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.
- 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 American Institute for Cancer Research recommends 5 servings a day of fruit and non-starchy vegetables, so don’t be afraid ask your server to recommend vegetable and whole grain substitution.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 extra veggies.
- Limit 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.
- Keep it moving. Vacations are a time for sightseeing and being outside. Build in time to go for walks, or use the pool or fitness facilities you might have at your accommodations, and try to get your recommended 30 minutes of aerobic exercise daily.
- Stay hydrated. Generally, there is a tendency to drink more sugary and alcoholic beverages while on vacation. For people going through treatment or cancer survivors, try focusing on limiting drinks to water and non-sugary beverages, and steering clear of alcohol. `
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 could resist gelato in Italy or a Nutella crepe in France.
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.