Trips and Travel: Dieting While On the Move

We went on a trip to a karate tournament last month. Although we stayed in a rental house, food was different then it was at home. I cooked some meals, we had to go out a few times, and there were several long car rides.

ATA Karate Tournament

The trips we’ve taken these past 17 years in weight maintenance look very different than the trips we took when I was obese. When I was obese, travel meant taking a vacation from chores, vacation from work responsibilities, and vacation from any semblance of healthy eating.

I headed off on trips back then with the car loaded full of “car snacks” such as Rolo candy, Reese’s peanut butter cups, cookies, chips, and chocolate covered raisins. I chose these snacks because they were easy to eat in the car, and because I wanted them. I gave little thought to my weight, even though I was usually on a diet.

Once we arrived at our destination, I would eat whatever I wanted with abandon. Restaurant meals with 900 calories were not unusual and desserts after the kids went to bed were the norm. I rarely cooked while on a trip, even if there was a kitchen available.

Travel was just one more reason to quit or temporarily postpone my diet.

So what changed when I lost 150 pounds? Well, in short, I realized that vacations and trips were a time away, but not a time away from healthy eating or from regular exercise.  For example, when we were at the tournament, I got up early and walked every morning before we headed off for the day.

Here are some of the things that have changed for the better:

When we travel, now I pack a healthy variety of snacks for each car. (Yes, we are such a big family we sometimes have to take two cars on vacation!) Raisins (not chocolate covered), homemade granola bars, fruit, and homemade goldfish crackers are the choices. No chocolate, no chips, no junk food in the car because I might be tempted.

I also pack our lunches and plan on cooking meals when possible. This not only saves money, but helps us all stay healthy and ready for whatever adventure awaits us. Sometimes we stop and eat at a rest stop and other times we pass out the lunches and keep on driving. Either way, I feel good about what I’m feeding myself and my family.

While we are at our destination I plan what we will be eating. Sometimes we are at the mercy of our hosts, but oftentimes they ask me what the kids will eat and I simply give them a list of the meals and foods we normally eat. And then, of course, I also offer to help prepare them because most folks aren’t comfortable cooking for a crowd!

When we are traveling alone as a family, I make meals and choose restaurants that meet my healthy food standards. We may have the occasional junky meal, but that is not the norm.

I also plan for exercise and have found there are very few destinations where I cannot find a safe place to walk or a decent gym to work out in.

I made the switch in my head from traveling and trips as being a time of “vacation” from healthy eating to simply being a time to be away from home.

Healthy eating is part of who I am and I don’t need to take a break from it.

Weight loss success and continued weight maintenance on trips comes down to your attitude and making smart decisions. I’d encourage you to really plan ahead for trips and decide in advance how you will handle restaurant meals, car snacks, and even meals at friend’s houses.

How do you handle trips? Has it changed for you? Diane

2 thoughts on “Trips and Travel: Dieting While On the Move

  1. Kitty says:

    It has changed. I am careful about where I stop to eat, trying to make choices where I know I can get a reasonable calorie meal. Also, I do take my own snacks with me which are the kinds of things I eat at home.

    The hardest time is when I reach my destination if I have to eat out all the meals. Even eating carefully when out it is hard to stay in a good calorie range while traveling.

    Two thing helps me a lot when I travel:

    1. Don’t eat breakfast out. Lots of places have a breakfast buffet or really high calorie breakfast meals. I find that if I do that the entire rest of the day is very difficult to stay within reasonable calories. So, even when staying at a hotel, I will usually bring something I can eat for breakfast. It is often a Kind bar or a quest bar. But, I’ve occasionally brought something else non-perishable (or stay in a hotel with a little refrigerator).

    2. Walk a lot. On trips I will usually try to walk as much as possible so that I burn more calories. A few years ago I went to London for 2 weeks, stayed in a hotel and came back home having lost 2 pounds. The key to it was doing a lot of walking every day.

  2. Leah (Goodnight Cheese) says:

    I think you’re right and that it’s all in the attitude. I’m trying to learn that vacations, just like parties and weddings and dinners out with friends, are not auto-reasons to overeat or forget about what I’m working towards.

Leave a Reply