When you book your hotel, double check that your room is equipped with a refrigerator and microwave, says Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, CSSD and author of Cinch! This way you can stock up on healthy goodies that will make you less apt to binge during your vacation. If your hotel doesn’t automatically supply you with a microwave, request one and it will be brought to your room. Then find out where the closest supermarket is within walking distance and put it on the top of your must-visit list. Shop for the following Sass favorites and you’ll be more than prepared for a restful vacation.
Stocking up on fresh produce is a no-brainer, but while you’re on vacation stick to fruits and veggies that are easy to wash in a small sink and don’t need to be cut or refrigerated. Think: apples, bananas, grapes and cherry tomatoes.
Packed with protein and very little to no fat, Greek yogurt is a great option to have on hand for a quick breakfast on the run or alongside a light lunch. It will fill you up and keep you satisfied for hours. Craving dessert? Store in the freezer for a cool treat after dinner or sweet midnight snack.
For extra crunch, add puffed grains to your yogurt or munch on them plain straight out of the bag. They have the same nutritional value as they do in their natural state and come in a wide variety like brown rice, corn, whole wheat and kamut.
Individually packaged portions of cheese are perfect snacks the whole family can share. Spread them onto whole grain crackers or eat alongside fruits for a sweet and salty effect. Each wedge is low in calories, full of protein and a good source of calcium. Toss one wedge into your bag for a mid-morning snack or substitute for mayo or full-fat cheese on sandwiches. Most can be stored outside of the fridge for a limited amount of time.
Most people don’t consume their daily four to five serving requirement of whole grains, especially on vacation. Sass recommends consuming at least three servings of whole grains a day, and if that’s not possible, at least half of the grains you consume should be whole, she says. Whole grains are a key source of vitamins, minerals, fibers and disease-fighting antioxidants. Eating whole grain crackers are an easy way to sneak them in and a great way to curb your hunger.
“Beans are chock-full of protein, fiber and minerals and are hearty and satisfying without weighing you down,” says Sass in Cinch! They’re also one of the cheapest foods you can buy and can easily be transformed into rich dips like hummus. When buying hummus in a store, Sass recommends regional brands, which are less likely to contain additives or preservatives. Just a small serving of hummus will give you the energy you need to make it through the rest of your sightseeing tour.
It’s easy to overdo it on the peanut butter when scooping it out of a jar, even when slathering it on something as healthy as celery. To play it safe, keep packets of assorted nut butters in your bag for an extra protein-rich boost. Each packet contains a perfect two-tablespoon serving, which you can spread on whole grain crackers, fruits or vegetables for an indulgent snack.
When you don’t have access to fresh veggies throughout the day, crunch on freeze-dried veggies. Often, they’re healthier than fresh veggies, which can lose their nutrients from sitting out over time. One-quarter cup of dried veggies is equivalent to one serving of fresh ones. Don’t forget—you need three servings a day!
For a satiating snack, munch on nuts and seeds, which contain heart-healthy fats. Store them in a small container—like an Altoids tin—when you’re on the go. Besides preventing them from spilling inside your bag, these tins provide instant portion control. Remember, you only need a ¼ cup (about the size of a golf ball), says Sass.
Knock one serving off of your daily whole grains requirement with one serving of oil-, artificial butter- and salt-free popcorn. Simply pop in the microwave for a quick snack and enjoy it right away or pack it in a small baggie for later. It’s a light, yet wholesome treat that will keep you full for hours.
When you’re food tastes dry and bland, keep SASS (Slimming and Satiating Seasonings like vinegar, citrus juice or zest, hot pepper, teas, or herbs and spices) in mind. Sass suggests carrying around small packets to sprinkle over dull food. One low-calorie serving of spices adds tons of flavor and is high in antioxidants.
Ditch the sticky, overcooked pasta at the buffet and fill your plate with lean protein and veggies for now. You won’t regret it knowing you have packaged brown rice in your hotel room waiting to be microwaved. You’ll save calories, reduce bloat and incorporate another serving of whole grains into your meal plan.
Look and feel better by staying hydrated on vacation, especially when flying. Sass suggests sparkling water with a squeeze of lemon or lime for a refreshing flavor that will satisfy your need for bubbles.
Quench your thirst and curb your hunger with a serving of tomato juice that fulfills one of your daily vegetable servings. It also contains Vitamins A, C and E, as well as the strong cancer-fighting antioxidant lycopene. You’ll be ready to go after drinking up, especially in comparison to the other buffet laden sugary drinks.
For a nutritious breakfast or energizing snack, cook unsweetened rolled oats in your hotel room by combining them with hot water. Rolled oats have already been steamrolled and made smaller and thinner to speed up their cooking rate. Mix with fresh fruit for natural sweetness or serve plain.
Eat Greek, Indian or Thai over an American bar or grill where you’ll have fewer options to choose from, says Sass. Culturally, ethnic restaurants naturally have more vegetarian options on their menu. Be weary of hidden creams and sauces that can cause calories to add up quicker than you think. Stick to grilled options as much as you can and steer clear of fried foods. We promise you won’t feel guilty shimmying into your bathing suit the next day.
Skipping dessert won’t be so hard knowing there’s a delicious after-dinner treat waiting in your hotel room. Warm apple slices in a microwave in thirty seconds increments, drizzle with a honey packet and sprinkle with cinnamon for a delicious apple pie-like dessert.