7 March 2017Four Tips to Help You Manage Weight While Traveling

As a Registered Dietitian I am acutely aware of the importance of eating healthy. At my house we enjoy cooking the majority of our meals ourselves including packing our lunches. I feel best when eating balanced meals full of lean protein, complex carbohydrates and fresh produce. Thus our recent 3 week holiday in Vietnam challenged my eating habits and got me thinking about weight management and how to avoid gaining weight while traveling in a foreign land. Here are 4 tips that may help avoid weight gain while traveling.

Breakfast is still an important meal of the day

Eating breakfast can give your weight loss efforts a leg up. Foods rich in protein and dietary fiber help control your appetite later in the day. Breakfast also fuels your metabolism and provides energy for your daily activities. In Vietnam we were presented with some interesting breakfast choices. Pho ( a light and comforting noodle soup made with a beef or chicken broth, rice noodles, meat and herbs) is traditionally served for breakfast, especially in the Northern region where we began our trip. While the warm broth was indeed comforting I was left hungry. A 1.75 cup serving of Pho contains only about 175 calories. After a few days, I learned the hotel staff could prepare eggs to order. I switched up my breakfast and found that combining a bowl of pho, 2 eggs and some fresh fruit provided me with a more balanced meal that kept me full and satisfied.

Plan ahead and give yourself permission to eat a treat

Food is culture and it is a real pleasure to enjoy new foods and ways of eating while traveling. If you are watching your portions and choosing lower calorie foods at most meals, there is room for a splurge. After a few days of the pho and egg breakfast I was ready for a splurge. I was hoping the historical French influence in Vietnam would mean we’d come across some awesome French bakeries, and we did! I noticed a small bakery down the street from our hotel. So I decided to stop in one day and take a look. Of course they served pain au chocolat which for me is the ultimate vacation food. To make room for this treat the next day, I skipped the pho and ate the pain au chocolat, egg and fruit for breakfast. It was a real treat. Finding a way to first prioritize your favorite foods and then make room for them in your diet can be done, it simply requires some planning.

Walk as much as you can

Many vacations involve a lot of sightseeing which depending on your mode of travel can translate to more walking. At the start of our trip we were walking on average 10 miles a day, which for me burned about 700 calories. I have to admit, it was tempting to use a taxi or bicycle rickshaw for transportation instead of walking. It is always easier to let someone else do the navigating! Walking to our destinations turned out to be a great way to absorb the culture while also burning calories.

Carry a snack just in case

When done right, snacking can provide just enough calories to help curb the appetite, keep blood sugar levels up and provide extra nutrients. Some research shows it may help in weight control. I am a firm believer in keeping snacks available when in a new environment or when you are not sure what time you’ll be eating your next meal. On our trip, we quickly learned that snacking is acceptable in Vietnam and convenience stores sell all sorts of snack items including nuts, yogurt, dried fruit and juices. I purchased some dried mango and peanuts to keep with me in my purse. That way I had something readily available to take the edge off my hunger when needed.

Travel is a great way to open your eyes to how other people live as well as rejuvenate your own personal life. With a little planning you can reduce or avoid weight gain while traveling abroad. If you have a big trip coming up and are concerned about gaining weight while away, consider hiring a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist to create an individualized nutrition plan for you. Bon Voyage!

Joanna Kriehn, MS, RDN, CDE

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Disclaimer: Please note that we cannot provide personalized advice and that the information provided does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit a medical professional.

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