Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Surviving the Buffet Line -- Tips for Staying Sane While Eating on Vacation

In our summer vacation series we’ve covered how to still fit in those workouts while out traveling and we’ve also shared that it’s okay to sometimes take a break from regimented workouts, but it’s a good idea to still make that time an active rest. This time we’ll talk about the big F word. No, not that one: Food. 

Food on vacation, do images of colossal buffets come to mind? The BEST burgers and fries  that are the width of rulers? How about ice cream mountains swimming in hot fudge and caramel? Are you drooling on your computer, if so I’m sorry. Let’s face it, one of the biggest draws of many tourist destinations is the grub, the restaurant business loves it and heck, the people there dining are fans too. We live in a society where food is often a major focal point and usually when we are on vacation that is a prime opportunity to experience new foods from different areas and cultures.

This isn’t a bad thing and in fact some of the best memories from a vacation can be food related. Now, some people take that to the extreme and see their break as a no holds bar food-fest and take it to an unhealthy level. Savoring a slice of cheesecake is one thing, wolfing down half the cake and never really tasting much of it is another.

And let’s face it, plenty of summer destinations include sun, sand, surf, and swimsuits, you don’t want to completely wreck havoc on that bikini bod! Here are some tips for still allowing yourself to take full advantage and giving your palette a much deserved vacation while still staying reasonably sane and healthy.

*Take inventory. If you’re at a buffet, do a lap around the spread first before you start filling your plate. That way you can choose the items that you truly want instead of filling up on some so-so things before going back and seeing that you missed out on your favorite foods. 

*Weigh the options. Are you a big dessert person and think of the entrée as merely an obstacle to get through on your dive for the sweets? If so, that’s fine and there is certainly no reason to feel guilty on getting your dessert on. But, if you do plan on that maybe choose a lighter entrée and then indulge in that dessert sans guilt.

*Get menu savvy. Know what you’re ordering and if you don’t, then ask. How many times have you ordered something thinking it was one thing and wind up getting something totally different? Do you then grudgingly dig into something you don’t really like and regret it? Feel like you ‘wasted’ your bite…and potentially calories? Ask your waiter what something is if you need to and if you’re in a different country don’t feel too embarrassed if you have to have it explained a second time.

*Enjoy it, don’t turn into the wolfman. Make sure that whatever you’re eating you are actually liking the taste of. Savor those bites. If you’re not, why force yourself to finish it? If it’s a ‘meh’ experience maybe just take a pass and find something that really makes your taste buds sizzle. You don’t want to wind up feeling overly stuffed and then think back on how you didn’t even really like that shrimp scampi to begin with.

*Packing eats. When you’re out and on the go it’s easy to forget to eat something before you are at the point of being famished. Then it’s even easier to gobble down the first thing that’s remotely appealing and usually on the greasy side. So plan accordingly and pack some snacks or even a lunch or two to enjoy between kayak lessons or site seeing. Not only will you save a little money but you’ll be doing your hungry belly a favor too.

*Ditch the ‘guilt’ hitch-hiker. Finally, give yourself the liberty to cut loose on the whole diet thing. If you’re in some far off country how many times will you get a chance to eat that certain something, maybe never. Don’t pass up on the experience solely because you’re sticking to a diet; in all honesty it takes a whole 3,500 calories to gain a single pound of actual fat. Worst case scenario, you come back a little heavier; that’s okay you can always ‘undo’ that by working out a little harder upon your return!

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