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Maintaining Your Weight on the Road

Are you a frequent flyer who’s trying to lose weight while having to eat airline food and meals at back-to-back business dinners? Or perhaps you’ve lost weight and don’t want to gain it all back during a trip of a lifetime to Paris? There’s help. Dietitian Kimberly Shapira, MS, RD, offers these pointers for staying trim while you travel.

WHEREVER YOU GO, THERE YOU ARE

“Have your plan in place and develop a mindset for health,” Shapira says. “It’s really not about the traveling schedule as much as it is about your commitment. Who you are at home—whether or not you eat breakfast, whether or not you eat lots of sweets, and so on—is who you are with the same habits on the road.”


Many people use traveling as an excuse to eat whatever foods cross their paths, but often the truth is they may not be exercising any discipline at home either. So take a look at your habits and define your goals before you pack your bags.

WHEN IN ROME

Traveling to one of the world’s great food meccas? “If you’re going to a special destination, go ahead and eat whatever foods you’d like,” Shapira says. “Just do what the locals do and eat small servings.”

PREVENT PEER PRESSURE

One of the hardest things about traveling is that you will often eat with a group of people who may have different food agendas.

“Be a role model. Own it,” Shapira advises. “Most people around you will appreciate your healthful integrity.”

Even meals with several courses don’t have to lead to overeating, says Shapira. “Begin with a green salad and hold the dressing. Consider a vegetable soup as a starter, with either shrimp cocktail or simply prepared fish or chicken for a main entree. Beware of rich sauces.”

Studies show we consume about 33% more calories and fat when we eat out, Shapira notes, so try to skip one-third of a typical restaurant portion, leaving some food on your plate.

BRUSH UP ON THE BASICS

According to Shapira, there are some basic rules to follow for successful weight loss and general health:
“Of course when you’re traveling, you may not have complete control over your schedule, but research shows that you need several things in order to lose weight and keep it off: proper rest, adequate water and calcium, and something in your stomach every couple of hours. These ensure that you’re less tempted to gorge on huge meals served at restaurants and resorts.”

TOURISM IS A LEGIT WORKOUT, RIGHT?

“Wrong. All that walking you’re doing to see the sights doesn’t count as much as you think,” Shapira says. “Studies prove that diet is a far more important weight-loss component than exercise, the latter counting for only about 10%.”

But who wants to be on a diet when your host offers you a heavenly dessert? “The interesting thing is we only really register the first and last bite of a treat,” says Shapira. “So about three bites of a fabulous dessert is where the enjoyment is—the rest is unwanted calories.”

WHAT AND WHEN TO EAT WHEN YOU TRAVEL

Dietitian Kimberly Shapira suggests that you stock your hotel room with healthful alternatives to the goodies in the mini bar: “Before you arrive, ask the hotel to provide you with a fruit basket or a tray of cut vegetables and extra bottles of water. In airports, take advantage of the new healthful snacks offered by Starbucks or look for green salads, fresh fruit, and turkey sandwiches. Eat small amounts often, every two or three hours, but eat only when you’re hungry. Most importantly, believe that you are a healthy eater who maintains the perfect weight for you, and that will affect your choices!”