(contributed by Linda Anegawa, MD, FACP)
Travel can be exhausting, even more so when you are committed to a healthier lifestyle. Even with careful planning, the unexpected can throw a wrench into things. Canceled flights, traffic delays, and schedule changes are just a few of the things that can play havoc with your dietary plans.
Here are the best ways to set yourself up for success:
No matter how big or small the trip, having on-the-go food options will relieve a lot of stress. Have a meal before leaving home, bring backup snacks, and seek out low-carb options. Sticking to the basics can help you stay on plan and keep you from getting overwhelmed. Most restaurants and grocery stores will have healthy protein choices and vegetables available.
Look for a bun-less burger with salads, or a grilled protein with veggies and olive oil – it doesn’t have to be fancy. Remember, proper trip preparation takes practice, but it will get easier over time.
Before leaving for your trip, scope out the food scene where you’re going. Websites like TripAdvisor or Yelp are great resources for this! And most restaurants have their menus available online. You can even call a restaurant ahead of time to inform them of your dietary needs. Most chefs will appreciate the opportunity to be better prepared to serve you, and don’t be afraid to ask for modifications.
Traveling with family or colleagues can be especially challenging. It can be helpful to explain beforehand why you’re committed to a low-carb lifestyle. The more people understand why you’re making the choices you are, the more likely they’ll be to support you and they may even give it a try themselves. Another tip: try grocery shopping together for what you want when you arrive.
Even when we try our best, sometimes we go a bit off plan. If you do, it’s important not to spend time beating yourself up. Show yourself some compassion – acknowledge you did the best you could under the circumstances, and then determine to make the next good choice to help you get back on track.
At the end of it all, trips and vacations are meant to be enjoyed. Brainstorm ahead of time all the ways to have a good time there that don’t involve food. Go on a hike or walk to explore your new area. If you’re visiting loved ones, focus on spending time with them. Try not to be obsessed about every meal…just do your best.