People trying to lose weight (or even maintain) who are also traveling in December have a double challenge. Travel and vacation are difficult enough on their own and the holidays are challenging too.
Most of these holiday travelers set themselves up for failure by one of two extremes – either (1) complete abandon of hope for a healthy diet or (2) having the unrealistic expectations of expecting to follow the same diet guidelines that worked at home.
My best diet coaching advice – get rid of the “all or nothing” thinking. No matter how faithful you usually are to “your plan” you probably won’t be journaling/counting calories on Christmas Day at the inlaws. But, if you’d rather not spend January taking off the pounds that you put on in December, you can’t just abandon the whole premise of healthful mindful eating.
My advice: Make realistic holiday, food, travel, weight loss plans. Think “reasonable!”
Here are six easy steps for diet friendly holiday travel. Note that none of the tips involve what you “can’t have.”
1.) Walk everyday.
Wear comfortable shoes while traveling so you can take impromptu saunters around the airport or the rest area.
Pack mittens, hat and scarf if you are going to be in a colder climate.
Don’t over anticipate. Simply make your plan first thing in the morning, based on the schedule for the day.
Ask your hosts about indoor walking possibilities in the area.
Invite others to join you.
2.) Have an attitude adjustment.
Don’t be sour because you have to travel: You GET to travel. While it may be true that you wish your family would come to see you instead of your having to travel there, ultimately it is both an option and luxury. Not to be too preachy, but think of the millions who wish they could be with their families.
3) Get plenty of water.
If you are flying, take your own bottle for water. You can refill it at the water fountain; save a bundle over buying bottled water at the airport and you can empty it before you go through security and then refill it from a water fountain near the gate.
Bring several bottles in the car with you.
Have water with every meal, including those with which you are having wine.
Have a glass of water between every other drink that you might have.
4) Use all your senses.
We often hear the phrase of advice, “It is the journey, not the destination” as it applies metaphorically to life. You can apply it literally while you are traveling. Take a moment every hour or so to reflect on the pleasures of the traveling journey. Mine will include being away from the computer, people-watching, reading fiction and uninterrupted time with my partner. Be open to observing new sights, sounds and smells. Observe the landscape or city-scape. Often in the rush of our lives, we use our sense of taste as our primary sensory stimulation (and we work it hard!). Traveling in the holiday season is the perfect opportunity to engage all of your senses.
5) Consume five servings of fruit and vegetables every day.
You’ll find you can more easily say “no” to indulgences when you are focusing on saying “yes” to nutrition. Take your inventory before each and every meal of the day until you can report that you have met the requirements.
6) Pack snacks.
Pack your grab-and-go snacks for the road. For satisfaction — have both nutritional carbohydrates and protein: soy nuts, almonds, season baked tofu, even beef jerky. Couple these with fresh fruits and vegetables and whole wheat crackers and you have satisfying mini meals. Use the time you save (not) going to restaurants to have an extra walk! Stop at a grocery store mid-trip to replenish.
Be choosy. You’ll be faced with many, many moments-of-choice. Think about spending your “indulgence” calories on “only the best.” Don’t be eating cold stale french fries out the bottom of the bag.