|Christine Pellegrini, Post-Doctoral Research Associate|
The holidays can be a difficult time for anyone trying to lose weight. Weight-loss plans are generally interrupted by holiday parties overflowing with food, an abundance of tempting desserts, and busy schedules that do not always allow for exercise. On top of the challenges the holidays already bring, many individuals travel to visit family and friends. Finding time to exercise and trying to choose healthy foods to eat at airports and rest areas can be tough, especially when faced with bad weather, heavy traffic, and flight delays. Plus, recent airport security concerns may force you to spend extra time at the airport to ensure you make your flight.
All of these travel complications may increase stress levels, interrupt your activity and eating schedules, and lead to times when you are extremely hungry. This combination of events often can result in overeating or choosing foods that are quick, easy, and high in fat and calories. This season, rather than stressing over holiday travel or worrying about any unpredictable travel-related situation, focus on planning your meals and snacks as much as you can and look at any delays as an opportunity to get in some extra physical activity.
Here are some tips to help you increase your physical activity and continue to make healthy food choices while you are traveling by car or plane this holiday season:
Staying active when on the run:
- Use a pedometer or wheelchair odometer to track activity while traveling. Look for any opportunity to increase your steps or distance.
- Skip the escalators, elevators, and movable walkways when possible.
- Rather than sitting at the gate waiting for your flight, walk or wheel around the terminals. Check your bag if possible so you do not have to worry about carrying it or if you're traveling with someone, take turns watching the bags while the other person walks or wheels.
- If you're driving, try to make frequent stops. At each stop, get out of the car to stretch and walk or wheel around either inside or outside, depending on weather and accessibility of the rest area.
- Stretch your arms, legs, and neck while you are on the airplane or a passenger of a car.
Making healthy food choices when on the run:
- Pack healthy, low-calorie snacks such as apples, pretzels, or 100-calorie packets. These will prevent you from becoming overly hungry when you face unexpected delays and are not able to eat at normal times.
- If you are driving, try to pack your own meals so you do not have to attempt to find something healthy to eat at a rest area. Plus, by bringing a cooler and your own meals, you'll also be saving some money!
- Try packing meal replacement bars or shakes to have as an alternative to rest area or airport meals. There are many different products out there to choose from, but in general, you should look for one that is 200-250 calories, high in protein and fiber, and contains less than 5 grams of fat per serving. Don't forget that if you're flying, you cannot bring shakes (or liquids) in your carry-on bag, so be sure to stick with bars!
If you must eat at a rest area or the airport, here are some tips to help you limit your calories and fat:
- Ask for the nutrition information before you make your decision.
- Try to find something low in calories and fat.
- Order a kids' meal or keep your portion size small.
- Skip the fries or ask for an alternative such as a salad or potato.
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
Happy Holidays and Safe and Healthy Travels!
For more information, questions on weight management, or to provide feedback, please contact Christine Pellegrini at firstname.lastname@example.org.