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Healthy Travel by Addition

January 22, 2014

More than once, friends have asked me how I manage to eat the things I blog about without gaining tons of weight.  It’s a fair question, especially when I reflect upon some of my more glutinous trips (hello Portland: donuts, fried chicken, wine and biscuits).

Fried Chicken, Egg and Cheese

To be honest, there are definitely trips when I feel like I return with a little more baggage than I left with, if you know what I mean.  But overall I’m able to stay (reasonably) healthy and fit while traveling by embracing balance.

One of my favorite healthy living bloggers who is also a nutritionist, Kath, wrote a great post about how It’s Easier to Add Than Subtract to attain a healthy balance.  This really struck a chord with me and I think it applies especially well to staying healthy while traveling.  I have a big problem with the idea of heavily restricting my diet, especially when I’m in a new place full of regional cuisine and fun restaurants I want to try.  I much prefer to add some healthy habits to my trips while still allowing myself to indulge in whatever tempts me.

Here are a few examples of simple “additions” to make for a healthier vacation:

Instead of skipping indulgent eats, add some exercise.

Wahkeena Falls Hike

This one is the easiest for me because I genuinely enjoy staying active.  It’s a no-brainer to lace up my sneakers for a run around a new city, go for a hike or hit the hotel gym for a quick weights session.

Carmel Valley Run

If breaking a sweat does not sound like your idea of a vacation, there are plenty of ways to increase your activity level throughout the day without working out.  The easiest is walking, which I also find to be the absolute best way to explore a new location.  Skip the car and public transit and map out a walking loop to see the sights.  Not sightseeing?  Jump in the ocean for a swim instead of lounging on your towel.  Go out dancing after dinner instead of sitting at the bar with a nightcap.  You get the idea.

Instead of skipping dessert, add a salad.

Del Mar Salad

This might sound counterintuitive because you could end up ordering more food, but I find that when I start my meal with a salad, the greens take the edge off and lead to a healthier dinner overall.  You’ll be too busy forking lettuce to reach for the bread basket, and by the time your entrée comes you might be full enough to pack up half to stash in the hotel mini-fridge for another time.  Then order that molten chocolate cake.  You deserve it.

Beer and Bacon Cupcake

Instead of skipping that vacation cocktail, add at least 3 extra glasses of water throughout the day.

Drumbar cocktail

I find one of the biggest challenges to healthy travel can be staying hydrated.  When I’m on the go, I just tend to drink less water.  And we all know that dehydration can lead to fatigue, hunger and stomach trouble, among other things.  Start the day by telling yourself that in order to enjoy happy hour later, you have to drink a certain amount of water.  That goal should keep hydration front-of-mind and allow you to make better decisions all day.

Instead of skipping that donut on the breakfast buffet, add some lean protein to your plate.

Chicago Donuts

Sugar in the morning can set us up for cravings all day long and a crash in the early afternoon.  But if it doesn’t affect you that badly, have at it – just balance it.  No one functions at their peak after starting the day on pure sugar.  Your body needs lean protein to stay full and complex carbohydrates for energy.  A scoop of eggs, slice of turkey, or yogurt plus a small slice of whole wheat toast or a handful of granola should do the trick.

Fresh and Wyld Breakfast

Instead of sticking to the same old museum-hopping, beach-lounging or whatever you tend to do, add a new active adventure to the agenda.

Paddle Boarding

Mix it up! You might just find something new that you love.  At the beach?  Give stand-up paddle boarding a shot.  In the city?  Sign up for a bike tour.  In the mountains? Try snowshoeing or nordic skiing.

Help me out! What are some healthy “additions” that you make while traveling?

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